Books by Muslim Authors, Middle Grade Books

City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda – Book Review

 I have been so excited for this book since it was announced, and it did not disappoint!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

This book was so wonderful in so many ways. The wonderful witty characters and how the mythology was woven into the story and the captivating writing with some unintentional Tangled references that had me screaming. This book was so hard to put down and I found myself reading well into the night. But the thing that I loved most was just how unapologetically Muslim this book was and how it was just Sikander’s normal life to go to the masjid and use words like inshaAllah which is a huge part of lots of Muslim’s lives.

Sikander is a wonderful character and I loved how much he loved his family and yet at the same time had a complicated relationship with them and how he had been deeply affected by the loss of his brother. He is witty and sarcastic and reminded me so much of my cousin who is the same age. Pre teens are truly the most sarcastic people I have ever met! I loved how he was connected to his community from helping in the masjid and how so many people knew him and his family.

We also meet Belet who is new to Sikander’s school and we find out she is the adopted daughter of Ishtar and has been trained as a warrior. She saves Sikander and they slowly become friends throughout the book. Their banter and witty remarks to each other was so much fun to read especially when you can see they are both becoming friends and yet neither wants to really admit it first. I also loved that Ishtar had so many cats! But these cats aren’t your ordinary cats they are magical cats! I loved every single scene with them!

The story was captivating from start to finish. Action packed and hilarious yet also dealt with some really difficult topics but in a way that kids can understand and relate to which I really loved. There’s discussions about how Daud can only get roles in films as a terrorist because he is a brown Muslim and how the word Jihad has been twisted and what it truly means to Muslims. Grief and death is also discussed really well in the book with Sikander still trying to come to terms with the death of his brother and also the unresolved feelings he has towards him and the situation he has found himself in. Things he wanted to say to his brother, how he wanted to go on an adventure with him too. It was so heartfelt and real and had me so emotional.

I just really loved this book and I truly hope we get a second book because I would really love to go on more adventures with Sikander and Belet! This book was funny and full of adventure and just such wonderful Muslim representation. I wish I had this when I was younger. I highly recommend everyone go read this wonderful book.

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