I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda
Genres: Middle Grade, Mythology
Published by Rick Riordan Presents on January 12, 2021
Buy on Amazon
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology written by Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry series. Characters from the Epic of Gilgamesh populate this high-stakes contemporary adventure in which all of Manhattan is threatened by the ancient god of plagues.
Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents' deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life.Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn't know it, and that's about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble.
Sik's not in this alone. He's got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they'll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares.
Here is what I thought
First impressions: I think I would have liked a little bit more explanation of the mesopotamian mythology as it’s not anything I knew about going in. Though not my favorite mythology book it was entertaining enough.
Sikander is just a boy who misses his older brother, Mo. He spends a lot of time thinking about and talking to his brother (in his head). His family owns a deli and Sik helps out because when Mo left he kind of felt like it was what he had to do. Mo’s friend Daoud stays with them and Sik gets frustrated with him at times because he wants to be an actor and can’t do anything to mess up his looks.
One night Sik finds some strange guys outside the deli and he knows something is not right with them and before he knows it they are trying to attack him and saying their boss wants something he has but he has no clue what they are talking about. It seems that the plague god, Nergal, thinks that Sik has something. It’s something he needs really bad because Nergal is about out of god lives. Sik gets rescued by a ninja type girl who calls Nergal uncle and from here on out Sik’s life will never be the same.
Sik ends up finding out who the ninja girl was, Beret, and that her adopted mom is Ishtar, goddess of love and war. He doesn’t believe it at first and still wants to know what all this has to do with him. He keeps saying he is not a hero, but he does have something about him that is different.
It seems that one of Mo’s adventures to Iraq he stumbled upon something that Nergal wants and now Nergal is plaguing the city, and he starts with Sik’s mom and dad. Sik will do whatever it takes to find what Nergal wants and try and defeat him but it will not be an easy feat.
I am going to be honest and even though I have had a chance to read all of the Rick Riordan Presents books this so far is my least favorite. I really know nothing about mesopotamian mythology, and the only name that was familiar was Gilgamesh and what I knew about him was not much. I think the author should have explained a little bit more about the mythology surrounding the characters in the story. I still don’t know really that much about Nergal or Ishtar. I know more about Gilgamesh because Sik was a big fan of his stories.
I thought the characters were okay but I guess I thought for a myth retelling Sik was going to be some sort of cool demigod type person especially when we find out he has a power of sorts. When I found out why he was like he was I will admit I was a bit let down. Sik, was a decent character overall. He is very loyal to his family. I feel he held his brother up on to big of a pedestal but sometimes with do that with older siblings, especially ones that have passed on. Belet was a pretty cool character, very spunky young girl who could fight. Though she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder it’s a bit understandable since she was an orphan raised by a goddess. Daoud, I felt was there just to be an irritation though he was a tiny bit better by the end of the book. Oh and the cats were super cool! Ishtar had cats that looked like regular house cats till they morphed!
I am not sure if this is a standalone or a series. It ended okay but it also has some openness to continue. I looked on Goodreads and didn’t see it mentioned as a book 1. If it was a series I might continue on and if it isn’t I am okay with that too.
I do think young readers will enjoy this and recommend you give it a try. It just wasn’t my favorite.