City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda
Publication Date: January 12th, 2021
All you need to know is that Sikander gets dragged into a huge adventure after his family’s deli gets attacked by a god that’s looking for something that he’s sure Sikander has. Now Sikander has to save his family from this plague god with the help of Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar (the goddess of love and war) and his “cousin” friend Daoud.
I felt like the synopsis on goodreads kind of gave away too much information that i enjoyed discovering as I read.
I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for a review. This does not affect my review which is honest and unbiased.
This middle grade features A MUSLIM CHARACTER. And guess what? He’s actually happy with his faith!!!! (As I say this, yes, I know the standards are SO LOW) Anyway, I knew I’d enjoy this because a) mythology and b) unapologetically Muslim rep!
I really enjoyed seeing this story from Sikander’s point of view. He’s sassy, hilarious, and cares so much for his family. It was nice to see a young boy that is emotional and strong all at once. We don’t get to see that too much and it was really refreshing! It was also really interesting to see the world through his point of view because Sikander was a well rounded and somewhat flawed character that grew. And you could see that growth not only by the way the story was told, but also because of his changed perceptions about other people in the story.
I also just really loved that there were just really casual mentions of Islam without having to really pause and explain. There were some jokes that were even funnier for those that are Muslim, which just made it even more relatable and personal. I learned a lot about Mesopotamian mythology and I especially loved how it all tied to Iraq and seeing bits and pieces of history woven into the stories was just really interesting and well done!
Another thing we really don’t get to see is just platonic friendship. And I loved seeing just a nice friendship bloom between Belet and Sikander. Reluctant friendships are honestly so fun!
Sikander is also not like a natural fighter. He’s more reliant on other skills which is awesome. Sure, fighters are great, but we need to see more characters that actually have other strengths!
I grew to love both Belet and Daoud. It was great seeing them both grow not only as characters, but also as friends through Sikander’s POV. They were all passionate and powerful and somewhat flawed, making them realer and more relatable.
Of course, I definitely loved the mythology. I learned some new stories in a fun new way, and it was genuinely such a fun book!
I would recommend this to anyone that loves a good mythology book, casual and unapologetic Muslim characters, a main lead that is more of a “lover than a fighter”, talking swords, magical cats, bad rhymes, and interesting discussions about immortality. If you love some fun sassy characters, possible Tangled references (and also a few little Percy Jackson jokes), great platonic friendships as well as beautiful sibling relationships then you’ll definitely enjoy this book!