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City of the Plague God

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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 lif 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.


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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 lif 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.

30 review for City of the Plague God

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rick Riordan

    You Want Mythology? Let’s Get Old School! It doesn’t get any more ‘Old School’ than Mesopotamia. Without a doubt, the stories of Sumer, Babylon and the rest of the Fertile Crescent are my favorite myths that I’ve never written about. Fortunately, I don’t have to. Sarwat Chadda knows the stories better than I do, and he is about to take you on a thrill ride you will never forget! There is so much to love about Mesopotamian mythology. Just the word ziggurat. Is there any cooler word? When I was a ki You Want Mythology? Let’s Get Old School! It doesn’t get any more ‘Old School’ than Mesopotamia. Without a doubt, the stories of Sumer, Babylon and the rest of the Fertile Crescent are my favorite myths that I’ve never written about. Fortunately, I don’t have to. Sarwat Chadda knows the stories better than I do, and he is about to take you on a thrill ride you will never forget! There is so much to love about Mesopotamian mythology. Just the word ziggurat. Is there any cooler word? When I was a kid, I loved learning about those step pyramids. I marveled at the mysteries of cuneiform writing. I stared at pictures of winged lions, freaky dragons, and dudes with righteous curly beards and massive hats, and I wondered why I couldn’t be cool like the Mesopotamians. Fast forward a few decades, when I became a teacher myself: Every year, my students and I would embark on a unit about Mesopotamia. It was always one of their favorite subjects. We would roll out the clay and practice writing in cuneiform. We’d make our own signature seals so we could sign clay tablets like pros. We would hold trials based on the Code of Hammurabi, meting out harsh punishments like cutting off hands (with red markers. Ah, I’m bleeding!), drowning in the Euphrates (with water guns) or stoning (with wadded up paper balls). The kids would also re-enact the Epic of Gilgamesh, complete with Nerf weapons and fake beards. The Mesopotamians would have been proud, or possibly horrified. Anyway, we had fun. As for the gods of Mesopotamia – Wow! Those were some crazy deities. Ishtar, goddess of love and war. Nergal, the god of plague and war. Ninurta, the god of hunting and war. You’ll notice pretty much all the gods are the gods of something + war. They had a lot of wars back then. Their stories offer a glimpse at one of the oldest known civilizations, which had a huge influence on Egypt, Greece, Rome and the whole world. How excited was I when Sarwat Chadda offered to write a book bringing all this wild, wonderful mythology into the modern world for the Rick Riordan Presents imprint? Yeah, I was pretty excited. I’ve been a fan of Sarwat’s books for years – Ash Mistry, Shadow Magic – and I knew he was the perfect guy for the job. CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD does not disappoint. Our hero Sikandar Aziz is an American Muslim kid born and raised in New York City. His parents are refugees from Iraq. His older friend Daoud is a talented actor who can only seem to get TV roles like “terrorist henchman.” His brother Mo was a U.S. marine who died in action. Sikandar (Sik) is still grieving that loss, trying to help keep his family’s deli business afloat, and dealing with the usual bullies and Islamophobic slurs at school, when he is attacked one night by two rat-faced fellows who claim to be ancient demons. Things just get weirder from there. Pretty soon, a strange plague grips New York City. (Spoiler alert: Plague gods gonna plague.) Sikandar’s parents fall ill along with many others. In order to stop the sickness and save New York, Sikandar has to plunge into a world of ancient gods, demigods and monsters, and find out the truth about his own secret powers. When we first decided to publish CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, none of us, including the author, had any idea COVID-19 would take over the year 2020. Once the pandemic happened, we thought long and hard about whether this book was still a good idea, but we decided that really, it is more relevant than ever. It has a lot to tell us about how humans have dealt with such outbreaks over the millennia, because as long as there have been humans, there have been pandemics, even back in Ancient Mesopotamia. There will be tears and snarky jokes. There will be a badass ninja girl. There will be a chariot pulled by cats, a hero who’s a gardener, and a demon with really bad breath. I can also guarantee there will be frustration when you reach the end of this book, because you will be clamoring to read the sequel immediately. I know I am! Welcome to the world of Mesopotamian myth as interpreted by the brilliantly creative, wonderfully offbeat mind of Sarwat Chadda. You may never want to leave!

  2. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    City of the Plague God follows 13-year old, Sikander Aziz, as he battles to save New York City from Nergal, the ancient God of Plagues. Sikander, known as Sik to his family and friends, spends most of his time outside of school working in his family's deli. He enjoys his time there, but all of that is threatened the night the deli is attacked by demons. They're searching for something. Obviously, it's something very important, but Sik has no idea what it could be. He owns nothing that could possib City of the Plague God follows 13-year old, Sikander Aziz, as he battles to save New York City from Nergal, the ancient God of Plagues. Sikander, known as Sik to his family and friends, spends most of his time outside of school working in his family's deli. He enjoys his time there, but all of that is threatened the night the deli is attacked by demons. They're searching for something. Obviously, it's something very important, but Sik has no idea what it could be. He owns nothing that could possibly be of value to a God. Things spiral very quickly. The deli is destroyed and Sik's parents become quite ill, victims of a new plague. The disease is spreading and Sik knows that Nergal is behind it. He needs to figure out why and stop him before all of Manhattan succumbs. Luckily, Sik is not alone. He has a new friend, Belet, who just so happens to the be the adoptive daughter of the Goddess of Love and War, Ishtar. Together they discover something quite interesting about Sik. He's immortal and didn't even know it! More than that, he holds the secret to eternal life. I absolutely loved this story. As always with the books published under the Rick Riordan Presents Imprint, it is full of humor and heart. Sarwat Chadda is an incredible writer. The entire story had a fluidity to it that was absolutely enchanting. The way it unfolded was just classic storytelling; so well done. Having New York City as the setting was fantastic. Also, it was so nice to have a Muslim main character. While this story is based around ancient Mesopotamian mythology, Chadda also incorporated Sik's Muslim faith and Iraqi heritage in a way that was educational and organic. Sik starts out as an underdog in many ways and watching him rise to the occasion, learn and grow, it was just so satisfying. Overall, this is an absolutely riveting story. One I would recommend to Readers of all ages. If you love mythology, action, humor and New York City, you should absolutely pick this one up!!! Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it so much. Now I need to go back and read all of Sarwat Chadda's other books!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    A plague takes over the city of Manhattan and Sik has to take down the evil God Nergal to save the world. If only someone could do that to save us from Covid because I am starting to lose my mind ya’ll. I digress. Reading City of Plague God unlocked a memory of me back in 6th or 7th grade learning about the history of Mesopotamia. We didn’t learn too much about the mythology so I found it super interesting to get some background on it. Chadda definitely did his research! I love the characters an A plague takes over the city of Manhattan and Sik has to take down the evil God Nergal to save the world. If only someone could do that to save us from Covid because I am starting to lose my mind ya’ll. I digress. Reading City of Plague God unlocked a memory of me back in 6th or 7th grade learning about the history of Mesopotamia. We didn’t learn too much about the mythology so I found it super interesting to get some background on it. Chadda definitely did his research! I love the characters and thought that it was funny, I actually laughed out loud a few times. Sik is charming and witty, which is always appreciated in a main character. My only complaint is that there are a lot of broken sentences and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s targeted to middle grade readers but it drove me crazy. It does jump around a bit in the plot as well but I think it’s because this might be a standalone? There are a lot of unanswered questions so I would definitely pick up the second book if that comes out. Also, I loved the authors note. I am looking forward to reading future Rick Riordan Presents books! --------------------------------------------- I GOT AN ARC!! Thank you Netgalley. Give me all the middle grade books, please and thank you

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angelica

    It's crazy to think about this book having been written in 2018 but published in 2021. The world has changed so much in that time, and I understand why the author might have felt a certain way about publishing this last year when it had first been scheduled to come out. A city overrun by plague and disaster probably seemed like such a fantastical idea at the time of writing, and yet, here we are today. This book was an interesting read, but I simply could not rate it any higher than the 3.25/5 st It's crazy to think about this book having been written in 2018 but published in 2021. The world has changed so much in that time, and I understand why the author might have felt a certain way about publishing this last year when it had first been scheduled to come out. A city overrun by plague and disaster probably seemed like such a fantastical idea at the time of writing, and yet, here we are today. This book was an interesting read, but I simply could not rate it any higher than the 3.25/5 stars I gave it. I wanted more from the story than I got. I wanted to dive into this world of mythology the way I had when I read Percy Jackson, and I couldn't. The mythology of it didn't feel immersive. We only meet three of the gods and don't really get into their histories, other than Ishtar. Where are the other gods? How does this mythology blend into our world, the way we see Greek mythology seamlessly woven into reality when reading Percy Jackson? I think that this book would have worked as a series diving into Mesopotamian mythology and really exploring The Epic of Gilgamesh. It's the oldest myth from the oldest civilization, and I would have loved to know more about it. I would have loved to see a whole pantheon of gods and see what they have been doing all these thousands of years. Then there were the characters that I liked but didn't love. Sik was alright. He was generally nice enough and always willing to do what needed to be done to stop Nergal. Belet was interesting, but I didn't necessarily like her. She had moments where I liked her and moments where I wanted to tell her to shut up. And their friendship felt a bit forced to me. And yet, there were things I enjoyed about the story! One of my favorite things about this book was how it tackled religion. It balances current Islamic beliefs so wonderfully with ancient Mesopotamian mythology, not negating either, but having them exists in almost separate spheres. On the one hand, Sik believes in one true god. On the other hand, he dines with Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, and fights Nergal, the god of plagues. And it all just flows and works wonderfully. I also generally liked the writing. I haven't read any of the author's books, but his writing is easy to read. In general, I thought the plot and the characters and everything overall was 'ok' and nothing more. **I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.** Follow Me Here Too: My Blog || Twitter || Bloglovin' || Instagram || Tumblr || Pinterest

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Artisan Geek

    20/2/20 We have a cover folks and she's a beauty!!! So excited!!!!! 27/11/19 Gosh! It's hard not to stan this imprint! I mean, Mesopotamian mythology and a muslim boy as main character?! SIGN ME UP! You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website 20/2/20 We have a cover folks and she's a beauty!!! So excited!!!!! 27/11/19 Gosh! It's hard not to stan this imprint! I mean, Mesopotamian mythology and a muslim boy as main character?! SIGN ME UP! You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

  6. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Ngan

    Bold, brave, and full of surprises! I couldn't stop turning the pages. Chadda balances an action-packed story with his trademark humour and a deft handling of Sik's immigrant identity that feels relevant and important in today's world. Bold, brave, and full of surprises! I couldn't stop turning the pages. Chadda balances an action-packed story with his trademark humour and a deft handling of Sik's immigrant identity that feels relevant and important in today's world.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars The Rick Riordan Presents imprint has never let me down before, and indeed, this time through the brilliant lens of Sarwat Chadda, once again I am beyond impressed. I truly feel that well written books, based upon any world mythology transcend age, and this will indeed strike the attention of more than just a Middle Grade audience. I was enthralled from beginning to end of this perfectly paced, action packed novel. With this gorgeously written, fascinating delve into Ame Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars The Rick Riordan Presents imprint has never let me down before, and indeed, this time through the brilliant lens of Sarwat Chadda, once again I am beyond impressed. I truly feel that well written books, based upon any world mythology transcend age, and this will indeed strike the attention of more than just a Middle Grade audience. I was enthralled from beginning to end of this perfectly paced, action packed novel. With this gorgeously written, fascinating delve into American Muslim culture and Mesopotamian mythology, Sarwat Chadda blew. me. away. I will most definitely picking up anything he has to offer in the future. We need more diverse books in this world, and Chadda hit the mark on this front, as well. Through wonderfully written prose, and one heck of an adventure, he truly made sure that diversity, culture, & the mythology shone through. Through the eyes of an American Muslim kid l, Sik, we step into a beautifully crafted fresh piece of diverse literature & look into a fascinating cultural mythology, based upon the Epic of Gilgamesh. I truly loved Sik's bravery & dedication to his family. This undoubtedly sends an important message, about strength, loyalty, and bravery, especially to the target middle grade audience, as well as audiences of all ages. Anyone who reads about Sik, will LOVE HIM! He's a kid who will freely step up & take on Gods of ancient Mesopotamian origin when they show up on his doorstep, & in his hometown, New York City... all to keep his Iraqi refugee parents' American dream alive, and try to save those & the city he loves at all costs. Both Sik, & his story will undoubtedly leave readers with a feeling of true heart and new understanding of topics of great value.. Stepping into the absolutely enthralling world that Sarwat Chadda crafted masterfully, was a joy. I loved everything this book had to offer, and it increased my love for the Rick Riordan Presents imprint all the more! I will definitely be recommending this book to all. Thank you NetGalley & the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! __________________ YAYYYYYY ! Arcccccccc! I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS BOOK! (Confession: I am OBSESSED with all world mythologies. Honestly obsessed. I cannot wait to slice open a pocket between universes & step into this one! Yes, yes, I know to close it afterwards or mess with the fabric of reality blah blah but we're getting off topic here. 😉) Anddddd based upon the Epic of Gilgamesh? Uhhh, yeah! I haven't read it in 15 years, since my freshman year in HS, but I still remember the absolutely enthralling mythology there... and I am SO ready to go back into the Epic, but this time through the eyes of Sarwat Chadda. BRING ON ALL THE MYTHOLOGY! WOO! BRING ON THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHOLOGY! SO HERE FOR IT !

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emma☀️

    This was charming and witty, with complex characters, action-packed adventures and most importantly - CATS. Serious topics such as discrimination and immigration were covered and deftly handled. The writing and plot were a bit choppy at times but it did not deter me from enjoying it. Overall, I highly recommend!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I honestly cannot even remember how I came across this book, but I know I was instantly sold when I read it would be inspired by ancient Mesopotamian mythology. This sounded so unique that I instantly preordered it. I also have really enjoyed what I have read from the Rick Riordan Presents series, so I knew this would be amazing. I am incredibly grateful for actually getting an eARC. Sarwat Chadda’s City of the Plague God follows I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I honestly cannot even remember how I came across this book, but I know I was instantly sold when I read it would be inspired by ancient Mesopotamian mythology. This sounded so unique that I instantly preordered it. I also have really enjoyed what I have read from the Rick Riordan Presents series, so I knew this would be amazing. I am incredibly grateful for actually getting an eARC. Sarwat Chadda’s City of the Plague God follows thirteen-year-old Sikander Aziz as his normal life working at his parents’ deli is disrupted. Sik used to learn about ancient Mesopotamian mythology, including the Epic of Gilgamesh, with his brother, Mohammed, but he knows that this is just made up. However, everything changes when Nergal, the ancient Mesopotamian god of disease, shows up and demands that Sik give him the secret to eternal life that his brother Mo stole before his death. This forces Sik to team up with his brother’s best friend (and possibly romantic partner) Daoud, the goddess of love and war named Ishtar, and her daughter Belet in order to defeat Nergal and save New York City from the plague god. This story was so incredibly captivating. I loved reading more about ancient Mesopotamia because it was always one of my favorite topics in history classes. Chadda brings this mythology alive in a new and unique way. It was very descriptive and atmospheric in a way that made me feel like I was right there experiencing it with Sik. Nergal’s chaos challenges the characters but also brings them together. I really enjoyed seeing how the characters came together to develop friendships. They were all very distinctive and brought something different to their team. The way Sik stepped up and changed throughout the novel was really powerful to read about as well. I really appreciated and enjoyed how the author incorporated humor throughout this novel too. Chadda does an amazing job crafting his story, and I loved being able to experience this book and all it does for Muslim representation. Sik is the first Muslim main character in the Rick Riordan Presents line. It is so incredibly important for people to see themselves reflected in stories. I genuinely cannot wait for young Muslim readers to meet Sik and his family. Chadda’s author’s note emphasizes the importance of this even more. The author himself grew up with the stereotype that Muslims are villains, and he never saw them getting to be the heroes. City of the Plague God challenges this head on by addressing Islamophobia. The author also uses these things along with the fact that Sik’s parents are Iraqi refugees to discuss immigration and refugees as well. I cannot wait to get my finished final copy of this book. It is definitely something I can see myself reading again, and I am so excited to have it available in my future classroom. City of the Plague God was such a captivating read full of rich mythology. It is balanced perfectly with a great cast of characters, an epic adventure, and humor. Thank you to Disney Publishing, Rick Riordan Presents, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel before its release on January 12, 2021. *Content warning: bullying, loss of a loved one, pandemic and plague, Islamophobia*

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Following the death of his brother, Mo, Sik deals with his grief by helping his refugee parents’ deli. But when Mesopotamian god Nergal attacks the business in an attempt to find a stolen treasure, a chain reaction spreads a plague infecting the city, Sik’s parents included. As the story explodes from here, Sik and his best friend, Daoud, an aspiring actor, team up with the goddess Ishtar and her combat-ready adopted daughter, Belet. The result is an adventure worthy of the superhero Sik and his Following the death of his brother, Mo, Sik deals with his grief by helping his refugee parents’ deli. But when Mesopotamian god Nergal attacks the business in an attempt to find a stolen treasure, a chain reaction spreads a plague infecting the city, Sik’s parents included. As the story explodes from here, Sik and his best friend, Daoud, an aspiring actor, team up with the goddess Ishtar and her combat-ready adopted daughter, Belet. The result is an adventure worthy of the superhero Sik and his friends most admire, Gilgamesh — who, not unexpectedly, makes an appearance in the story. This is a fun fantasy adventure for the middle-grade audience, introducing to the readers all the Seriously Cool Bits about Mesopotamian mythology. Chadda juggles a lively story, appealing characters, and deftly deals with stereotypes and weighty topics such as Islamophobia, terrorism and anti-Arabism. Another nifty, highly readable entry in the Rick Riordan Presents series. Copy provided by NetGalley

  11. 5 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    the best rick riordan presents since aru shah ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[Islamophobia, racism, ableist language, grief & loss depiction, death of a brother in motorcycle accident recounted, death of a mother (on-page), death from being run over by a train, blood & gore depiction, plague & pandemic (central theme), hospital, serious illness of a parent, war themes & military violence recounted, refugee experiences mentioned, homelessness mentioned, murder & attempted murder, and major g the best rick riordan presents since aru shah ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[Islamophobia, racism, ableist language, grief & loss depiction, death of a brother in motorcycle accident recounted, death of a mother (on-page), death from being run over by a train, blood & gore depiction, plague & pandemic (central theme), hospital, serious illness of a parent, war themes & military violence recounted, refugee experiences mentioned, homelessness mentioned, murder & attempted murder, and major general trigger warning for insects (hide spoiler)] . ▷ Representation: Sikander (mc) Iraqi-American Muslim; Muslim & Middle Eastern scs. Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is my second of the Rick Riordan Presents books, and I'm really enjoying these so far. City of the Plague God was intriguing, creative, and heartbreaking. This is perfect for Percy Jackson fans. CW - death of a sibling, racism, Islamophobia, bullying This is my second of the Rick Riordan Presents books, and I'm really enjoying these so far. City of the Plague God was intriguing, creative, and heartbreaking. This is perfect for Percy Jackson fans. CW - death of a sibling, racism, Islamophobia, bullying

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rameela (Star)

    Initial thoughts: this had all the charm and wit of an RRP book and I loved the references to mythology and history and just the whole unapologetically Iraqi and Muslim rep!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kenzie The Dragon Queen

    December 22nd 2020 4 stars I think it is wonderful that Rick Riordan's imprint is supporting amazing POC authors and their interesting stories. This is the type of book that grabs your attention right away and keeps it there by emotionally connecting you with its world and characters. I thought the mythology was fascinating, and it was written by a fresh and talented yet highly aware voice. The book addresses many topics ranging from loss to Islamaphobia. Important topics are brought up and weaved December 22nd 2020 4 stars I think it is wonderful that Rick Riordan's imprint is supporting amazing POC authors and their interesting stories. This is the type of book that grabs your attention right away and keeps it there by emotionally connecting you with its world and characters. I thought the mythology was fascinating, and it was written by a fresh and talented yet highly aware voice. The book addresses many topics ranging from loss to Islamaphobia. Important topics are brought up and weaved in seamlessly with the overarching action and adventure. Although I did feel like the plot unfolded much differently than I would have anticipated. This isn't nessecaryly negative or positive, but I did feel like there was something missing from a storytelling perspective. It seemed like the flow of the book wasn't exactly smooth. I will say that Sarwat Chadda writes very well, which keeps this story going at a steady pace and avoids lulls and lows. Which I think is quite a feat, considering this is a 400-page middle-grade novel. Overall, City of the Plague God is a really solid and fun read, that I definitely recommend. November 16th 2020 I just got approved for an ARC of this book that I requested from NetGalley! I really didn’t think I’d get it, because I requested it weeks ago, but I’m so happy that I did! I can’t wait to read this one!💫☺️ October 26th 2020 I really appreciate Rick Riordan Presents as an imprint.✨

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard

    I sure hope Rick is doing something cool with all this money he's shaking out of me with his Imprint! I sure hope Rick is doing something cool with all this money he's shaking out of me with his Imprint!

  16. 4 out of 5

    nat

    this cover is absolutely gorgeous

  17. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    I don't even know where to begin. I absolutely adored this book and winded up speeding through it. As someone who absolutely adores stories based in Greek and Roman myths, it was great to get the opportunity to learn about mythology that I wasn't overly familiar with. You better believe, I'll be looking into Mesopotamian myths as soon as I get the chance. City of the Plague God follows Sik, a thirteen year old Muslim boy who is dealing with the grief of losing his older brother and the pressures I don't even know where to begin. I absolutely adored this book and winded up speeding through it. As someone who absolutely adores stories based in Greek and Roman myths, it was great to get the opportunity to learn about mythology that I wasn't overly familiar with. You better believe, I'll be looking into Mesopotamian myths as soon as I get the chance. City of the Plague God follows Sik, a thirteen year old Muslim boy who is dealing with the grief of losing his older brother and the pressures of helping his family run their deli. It turns out that Sik's brother sent him something coveted by the Mesopotamian gods and heroes right out of the stories that his brother was obsessed with. Now, with the help of Belet and her adoptive mother, who happens to be a goddess, Sik must defeat the god of plagues and war before he destroys Sik's parents and his home in Manhattan. What I loved about this was that it was so unapologetically Muslim. I'm not Muslim myself, but I think you'd have to be living under a rock not to notice how rampant Islamphobia is in all forms of the media and in every day life. As Chadda points out in his author's note, words like jihad and Allahu Akbar have been turned into sinister vocabulary, when in fact they are anything but. Being able to read a book that not only embraces beautiful mythology, but also a religion and heritage and is equally beautiful and so misunderstood was such a great way for me to bring 2020 to a close. Another interesting aspect of this is that there's actually a discussion of how religion and mythology intersect. As a devout character, Sik is of course at odds with his new reality. He believes in Allah and says as much to the goddess Ishtar. He questions whether or not she's an actual goddess and what that means for his faith and what he believes and the answer she gives him is amazing. I won't tell you what she says, so you'll just have to read it for yourself. I hope that everyone goes into this story with their hearts and minds open because not only are you in for a great adventure with such relatable characters, but also the opportunity to either learn something you didn't know before or hopefully see yourself, your religion, and your culture reflected in a wonderful story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sabina Khan

    City of the Plague God was everything I ever wanted as a brown, Muslim kid growing up, reading books where the heroes never, ever looked like me. I loved everything about this story, from the mythology and adventure to the humour and the many heart-warming moments. This is such an important book for readers of all ages as it opens up a world we haven't really seen in children's literature. I particularly enjoyed how the MC's beliefs and those of the ancient Mesopotamian mythology were handled. I City of the Plague God was everything I ever wanted as a brown, Muslim kid growing up, reading books where the heroes never, ever looked like me. I loved everything about this story, from the mythology and adventure to the humour and the many heart-warming moments. This is such an important book for readers of all ages as it opens up a world we haven't really seen in children's literature. I particularly enjoyed how the MC's beliefs and those of the ancient Mesopotamian mythology were handled. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves to read about heroes of all backgrounds overcoming their fears and fighting to make the world a better place. This book took me on a fantastical journey and I didn't want it to end. I hope there will be a sequel.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Enne

    3 stars I have very few thoughts about this book, mostly because I just thought everything about it was fine. But none of it really made a lasting impression on me, if that makes sense. But it was really enjoyable to read in the moment! I really liked the idea of a retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which I thought was really well-executed in the story! I liked how the mythological elements were incorporated into the real world and how the two were blended. I do wish that the worldbuilding we got 3 stars I have very few thoughts about this book, mostly because I just thought everything about it was fine. But none of it really made a lasting impression on me, if that makes sense. But it was really enjoyable to read in the moment! I really liked the idea of a retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which I thought was really well-executed in the story! I liked how the mythological elements were incorporated into the real world and how the two were blended. I do wish that the worldbuilding we got was a little more extensive, though. I didn’t really care about the main character beyond the surface level and he felt really one-dimensional to me, but we did get some development for him, which I really liked! I wish the side characters had been explored in more detail because I feel like there was a lot of potential there that we didn’t get to see fully realized. The plot was fast-paced and there were definitely twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, but ultimately, it didn’t feel like something that was going to stay with me for a long time. I did think that it was a really fun story, or as fun a story as a story about a god of plagues can be. I liked the climax and the ending, especially, because those felt really unexpected to me! Overall, I think this is a decent middle-grade book and it’s one that I would definitely recommend to a lot of people, but it’s not something that was really memorable to me. trigger warnings: plague & pandemic, death (of a loved one), violence, Islamophobia, racism, ableist language, blood & gore depiction, hospital, refereces to war & military violence, references to refugee experiences, references to homelessness, murder & attempted murder, insects rep: Iraqi-American Muslim MC, Muslim SCs, Middle Eastern SCs

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Sikander Aziz is closing up his parents’ diner, Mo’s, when he’s attacked by demons and almost killed, and before he knows it, he has met two gods and a sword-wielding girl, and discovers that his parents are gravely ill with some unknown illness. Sik is still grieving over the death of his openhearted, fun-loving, adventurous and kind brother Mohammed, and has let many of his friendships wither. Also, Sik feels a mix of deep sadness and anger over his brother, and inferiority about his place in h Sikander Aziz is closing up his parents’ diner, Mo’s, when he’s attacked by demons and almost killed, and before he knows it, he has met two gods and a sword-wielding girl, and discovers that his parents are gravely ill with some unknown illness. Sik is still grieving over the death of his openhearted, fun-loving, adventurous and kind brother Mohammed, and has let many of his friendships wither. Also, Sik feels a mix of deep sadness and anger over his brother, and inferiority about his place in his family. And that’s just the start of his problems. He meets some very interesting cats, chats with a sword, and along with Belet, daughter of the goddess Ishtar, must figure out a way to save New York City from a fast-acting plague. This story was a hoot! Lots of action in a fast-paced plot with great hero and villain interactions, lots of well-placed humour, and believable behaviour and dialogue between Sik and Belet, both carrying grief and anger in them, but dealing with it in their own ways. The melding of Mesopotamian myth and Muslim influences in Sikander’s life was well done and welcome. Also, gross as some of the imagery was, I liked how Nergal made his powers felt in the city, with the proliferation of misshapen creatures, plagues, chaos, decay and disasters overtaking everything. I’ve been pleased with each of the stories I’ve read under the Rick Riordan Presents series, and this story by Sarwat Chadda had everything I’ve come to enjoy in this series: myths, monsters, and terrific characters who learn to find strength within themselves, and display integrity, kindness and decency. I can’t wait to read more in the RRP series, as well as more Sikander stories.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Lyn

    close to tears while Harry was fixing his hair and straightening himself up to see his Betty again. I wish we could have gotten that interaction.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    This is one of those books that I can't wait to get into the hand of middle grade readers, even though I freely admit, it's not the kind of book I really enjoy. What I DID enjoy was Sikander, the main character. It's so rare to find a book with an Arab (or actually an Arab-American) character that rings true and isn't focused on what's become almost a cliche: the refugee child who escapes war and is adjusting to his new life in America. That description certainly fits Sik and his family, but tha This is one of those books that I can't wait to get into the hand of middle grade readers, even though I freely admit, it's not the kind of book I really enjoy. What I DID enjoy was Sikander, the main character. It's so rare to find a book with an Arab (or actually an Arab-American) character that rings true and isn't focused on what's become almost a cliche: the refugee child who escapes war and is adjusting to his new life in America. That description certainly fits Sik and his family, but that's definitely NOT what the book is about. The book is about the gods from Ancient Mesopotamia wrecking havoc on modern-day New York City, complete with a mysterious plague that changes people into bizarre dog-like creatures. (Like I said - not my style of book, but I know kids are going to love it!) Sik could be any one of a number of middle grade Arab boys I know. I can't wait to hand them a book with a hero that looks, talks and acts like them! I also liked the way his Islamic faith is respectfully handled even as he interacts with "the gods". (As an aside, I'm waiting for the day that one of the Rick Riordan Presents books manages to do the same with a Christian character.) Highly recommended. This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher through NetGalley.

  23. 5 out of 5

    rat

    Mesopotamian mythology? Bro,I'm in Mesopotamian mythology? Bro,I'm in

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv

    [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] I finished reading City of the Plague God in one sitting and could not put it down! Firstly, I love that the main characters are Muslims. The author did not shy away from representing the characters and the dialogues honestly, and I applaud him. Sik is a great character who gets scared and confused yet faces his fears. I loved his friendship with Belet. She is grouchy most of the time, but she does grow on you. Similarly, I l [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] I finished reading City of the Plague God in one sitting and could not put it down! Firstly, I love that the main characters are Muslims. The author did not shy away from representing the characters and the dialogues honestly, and I applaud him. Sik is a great character who gets scared and confused yet faces his fears. I loved his friendship with Belet. She is grouchy most of the time, but she does grow on you. Similarly, I loved Daoud and the energy and comic relief he brought to the story. Secondly, I loved the Mesopotamian references. I have not idea about Mesopotamian culture and mythology, and it is just fascinating. After reading this story, I researched more on Nergal, Ereshkigal, Ishtar, and Gilgamesh. Additionally, the author wrote the cultural references in a simple yet engaging manner that makes you invested in the culture. Moreover, the author maintains the same adventurous energy that all “Rick Riordan Presents” books represent. He paces the story in an attractive manner, where the plot builds up with twists and turns. Consequently, as someone completely unfamiliar with the mythology, I had no idea how direction the story would go. There were many memorable moments in the story, like when Sik meets Mo or when Ishtar faces Nergal. Nergal was a ruthless villain and genuinely devious. While it sounds cliched, I enjoyed how he takes over Manhattan with his Poxies. Although the story is purely fiction, few passages felt very close to reality and unnerved me. Notably, the way the virus spreads reminded me of the difficult time we faced in 2020. Overall, the story is lovely, adventurous, and very creative, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. In my opinion, City of the Plague God is a beautiful addition to the series.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Martin

    When Nergal, an ancient God, comes looking for him, Sik’s normal life gets flipped upside down. In order to save all of Manhattan, Sik must retrieve the flower of Immortality before it is too late. He turns to Ishtar, Godess of Love and War, for help and her adopted daughter, Belet, as well as Gilgamesh. Can they save the city in time? I absolutely loved this middle grade hero’s quest fantasy adventure and was saddened to turn the final page. Sik is exactly the type of underdog hero I adore! He’s When Nergal, an ancient God, comes looking for him, Sik’s normal life gets flipped upside down. In order to save all of Manhattan, Sik must retrieve the flower of Immortality before it is too late. He turns to Ishtar, Godess of Love and War, for help and her adopted daughter, Belet, as well as Gilgamesh. Can they save the city in time? I absolutely loved this middle grade hero’s quest fantasy adventure and was saddened to turn the final page. Sik is exactly the type of underdog hero I adore! He’s just an average kid. He has suffered the loss of his older brother and is trying to deal with that the best he can. I liked so many characters but my absolute favorite was Ishtar, Goddess of Love and War. Seeing her inner turmoil was heartbreaking! A few others I really liked were Gilgamesh, Sik’s deceased brother, Mo, and of course, the lamassus! What amazing celestial beings they are! The battle scenes with them are truly epic! This novel deals with so many themes but a few main ones are spirituality, loss, friendship and family. Coming into this novel, I didn’t know much about Mesopotamian mythology but I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and devoured it quickly! The story is fun, fast paced, and exciting! These characters are wonderful, endearing and fascinating! I most certainly recommend this middle grade fantasy for anyone who enjoys a great mythological adventure! Thank you so much to Netgalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for the Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for my honest review!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received this book via NetGalley. Rick Riordan is doing wonderful work through his imprint that publishes middle grade books written by authors who draw from their own heritage to create fun, imaginative worlds. This book by Sarwat Chadda is another fantastic addition to the line. Plague God is set in the modern era, following Sik, a Manhattan Muslim kid of Iraqi immigrant parents. His family was nearly shattered by the recent death of his older brother, a botanist doing good work in Iraq, but I received this book via NetGalley. Rick Riordan is doing wonderful work through his imprint that publishes middle grade books written by authors who draw from their own heritage to create fun, imaginative worlds. This book by Sarwat Chadda is another fantastic addition to the line. Plague God is set in the modern era, following Sik, a Manhattan Muslim kid of Iraqi immigrant parents. His family was nearly shattered by the recent death of his older brother, a botanist doing good work in Iraq, but they get by, staying busy with their restaurant. Then late one night, a couple creeps barge in that seem genuinely demonic, and they think Sik is hiding something important. A weird ninja girl arrives and scares the rotting creeps off, but things don’t get better. Sik’s parents fall sick. So do a lot of other people. The city itself begins to rot. Sik finds the gods and beings of ancient Mesopotamia may not be mythological after all. This book is pure fun, the sort that feels cozy even when reading it for the first time. Sik is a great kid, flawed but well-meaning. The action goes along at a fast clip. I read the book in just a few sittings and I had a hard time putting it down. I wish books like this could've been around when I was a kid to help me see behind my small town protestant world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    (Belleand_books) Isabella Valentine

    TW: plague, rot/decomposition, body horror, refugee situation, bombing, blood, killing, sibling/parent death Wow. I just... that’s all I have to say. This book was everything I could have asked for given the title and the imprint company. I loved Sik and Belet and they’re entire journey. It was such a fun read to mash Mesopotamian mythology with Muslim culture and having Sik insist that Dauod plays something more than the villain is very telling of how our society treats Muslims (spoiler, he is TW: plague, rot/decomposition, body horror, refugee situation, bombing, blood, killing, sibling/parent death Wow. I just... that’s all I have to say. This book was everything I could have asked for given the title and the imprint company. I loved Sik and Belet and they’re entire journey. It was such a fun read to mash Mesopotamian mythology with Muslim culture and having Sik insist that Dauod plays something more than the villain is very telling of how our society treats Muslims (spoiler, he is a hero in the end). I will say that this story unexpectedly hits very close to home with our current epidemic- it was unintentional and that’s mentioned several times at the beginning and the end of this book. It is interesting though to see how this imaginary plague lines up with the very real epidemic that’s current going on AND the plague that lives within each of us- the hatred for “other”. Having this set in New York really amped it up for me since I feel like that’s the perfect place for refugees to flee- it is the melting pot of the United States and all. This is a middle grade and it doesn’t shy away from things in a way that most middle grades tend to do and for that, I love it. I love the development that Sik goes through; coming to terms with his brother’s death, his role in his family, and even the role that Daoud plays in his life. This book deserves more than 5 stars but alas, five is all goodreads offers.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Port

    Thank-you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for an e-Arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. As an avid reader of anything Greek and Roman Mythology, I found author Sarwat Chadda’s ability to weave an adventurous tale into Mesopotamia mythology, simply fascinating. City of the Plague God, follows Sik, a grief-stricken thirteen-year-old boy navigating through the loss of his older brother and the strain of tending to his family’s deli. His world is quickly thrown into further peril when Thank-you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for an e-Arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. As an avid reader of anything Greek and Roman Mythology, I found author Sarwat Chadda’s ability to weave an adventurous tale into Mesopotamia mythology, simply fascinating. City of the Plague God, follows Sik, a grief-stricken thirteen-year-old boy navigating through the loss of his older brother and the strain of tending to his family’s deli. His world is quickly thrown into further peril when a Mesopotamian god shows up searching for something he believes Sik has in his possession. Along with his new friend Belet and her adoptive mother, Ishtar, the three set out to save the world. Along the adventure, Sik is forced to face his fears as he readies to defeat the God of Plagues and War. This is truly a beautifully written story about loss, love, friendship, and facing ones fears while educating the reader on Mesopotamian mythology and Muslim culture. I highly recommend this book as a must read for 2021! However, before warned, you won’t want the book to end and will be disappointed the sequel isn’t out already.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leah M

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily. For my full review of this book, visit: https://leahs-books.com/2021/01/11/ci... City of the Plague God reminds me of the Percy Jackson series, but with an Iraqi Muslim main character, and instead of pulling from Greek mythology, it draws from Mesopotamian mythology. This is an area that I don’t know much about, but my interest is piqued and I’m definitely going to be looking into more o Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily. For my full review of this book, visit: https://leahs-books.com/2021/01/11/ci... City of the Plague God reminds me of the Percy Jackson series, but with an Iraqi Muslim main character, and instead of pulling from Greek mythology, it draws from Mesopotamian mythology. This is an area that I don’t know much about, but my interest is piqued and I’m definitely going to be looking into more of this. Sik is the son of refugees who have settled in Manhattan and opened a thriving deli. His older brother has passed away, and Sik has taken on a lot of responsibility helping his parents at their deli after school. My heart broke seeing him deal with his grief while also struggling with his unresolved emotions about his brother. I think this was really well portrayed — a sudden death often leaves people with conflicting emotions, and Sik isn’t quite sure how to deal with these. Sik is unapologetically Muslim, and I love that about him. He is sweet, funny, and kind, and has no idea how to fight demons or Nergal, the plague god who comes to find him. I love seeing the way that a kid like Sik is portrayed in this story, and placing characters like him front and center as a hero makes him relatable to young people who see themselves in him. Even as he believes in him faith so strongly, he readily accepts the existence of the Mesopotamian gods and goddesses. I loved seeing his character arc, and he experiences such a great change throughout the story. Belet is the trusty sidekick in this story. As Ishtar’s adopted daughter, she fills in the gaps in Sik’s skills — where he is a smart-aleck that relies on his brains to get him out of tough spots, she’s the brawn that leans on her fighting skills and her awareness of mythology. She complements Sik very well, and they work great as a team. She’s not as in touch with her emotions, and she undergoes a major transformation during the book. The story is full of action, and moved quickly. I enjoyed reading this way more than I expected to, and there were parts that made me laugh as well. It definitely brought back Percy Jackson vibes. There were some simple Arabic words interspersed into the text (and a glossary to explain the words at the end), and I loved how it changed the perspective around some commonly vilified words associated with Muslims. Several times in the story, Sik relates his quest to a jihad, which is explained as a righteous cause. In this case, it is saving Manhattan from the ravages of the plague god. I loved how that word was reclaimed from how it has come to be viewed. This isn’t a book to be missed!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ree

    Honestly, I loved this book! Back at the beginning of Rick Riordan Presents, when several ethnic main characters were rolling out, such as Aru Shah, I'd wished for a Muslim hero. But honestly, I didn't hold my breath because I'd wondered, how would it be possible to have a monotheistic character in a polytheistic culture? The answer came in Sarwat Chadda's City of the Plague God. Sik is his parents' second and American-born child, and, as a result, he feels very different from his older brother, Honestly, I loved this book! Back at the beginning of Rick Riordan Presents, when several ethnic main characters were rolling out, such as Aru Shah, I'd wished for a Muslim hero. But honestly, I didn't hold my breath because I'd wondered, how would it be possible to have a monotheistic character in a polytheistic culture? The answer came in Sarwat Chadda's City of the Plague God. Sik is his parents' second and American-born child, and, as a result, he feels very different from his older brother, Mohammed, an Iraqi refugee. Still, he dotes on Mohammed (Mo), so when Mo dies on a visit to Iraq, he's devastated about it, even after two years. The only thing that Sik and his family have of Mo (or what's been noted as being the most memorable), is a set of pressed and framed flowers that Mo wanted his family to keep as part of his botanical expeditions. Unfortunately, they get destroyed when supernatural creatures invade Sik's home and completely wreck it. The loss is devastating, but the creatures are insistent that Sik has some sort of treasure that Mo sent to him among the flowers. Unfortunately, they won't rest until they find it. This means giving his parents an uncurable plague and infecting the rest of the city with it too. With the entire city turned against him, it's up to Sik to find the "treasure" and reverse the disease. The only people that could possibly help him? A goddess of love and war, her adopted warrior daughter, and Mo's best friend, Daoud, who's obsessed with acting and his looks. What I Liked: 1. I love that Sik is smart (unlike a lot of middle-grade male main characters), Daoud is the one to provide comic relief (his obsession with his looks is hilarious), and the numerous war cats peppered throughout the story. While I did wish that the muslim representation was a bit stronger in this (though I am slightly conflicted on this because middle grade children may get tired of discussing a religion that don't know very much of but they still should), I did appreciate that Islamophobia was addressed. 2. I also really like the highlight on the refugee crisis, especially since so few people in the world really seem to be aware of it. Perhaps this book/series could help address some of the issues regarding it. 3. I love the familial bonds in this book! I love how close Sik and Mo are and I love how Sik feels the need to take care of his parents rather than the other way around. And then there's Daoud... A few things that I would recommend Sarwat Chadda if he chooses to continue the series: 1. While I did appreciate the Muslim representation, I think maybe next time, there could be at least some more women with hijabs and more men with beards. Islamophobia was addressed, but still, maybe a little more on the actual Islamic-ness? 2. Sik should go on more quests that take up the span of the book. The "quest" in City of the Plauge God wasn't the way I had hoped it be (in terms of length and excitement) though the book overall was good. Perhaps something like Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series or Roshani Choksi's Aru Shah series could serve as examples. 3. And finally, since this is an ARC copy (provided by Netgalley), I'd noticed that there were quite a few formatting errors including random spaces in the middle of the words, repeated words, and a part of the story when two or more sentences may have been missed in the storyline. Considering that this was an ARC copy, however, it did not detract any points.

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