A review by alenka
City of the Plague God, by Sarwat Chadda

adventurous emotional hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


THIS WAS SO GOOD ohmygosh, Sik is such a wonderful character!! He's this salt of the earth, grounded kid who has spent a lot of time working in his parent's deli. He knows he's not exactly the adventuring type, like his brother was, and he's mostly interested in supporting his family and keeping this running - except he is KIND of interested in adventure, but he doesn't know how to fight, and he certainly knows fear. This is a pretty chill, cool ass kid who knows his city and knows how to use his surroundings to survive. He's so freaking charming! And holy crap,
Spoiler MO IS SO CHARMING TOO! I love him and I'm so glad we got to meet him. I really hope future books blatantly refer to Mo and Daoud as queer. Speaking of which...

OK, I pulled this book off the new cart and checked it out immediately because of the reviews which all said things like it being 'strongly suggested' that Mo and Daoud were queer and loved each other. I have been getting more and more frustrated lately with stories that have queer "representation" by basically popping queer people into that sidekick/best friend slot, mentioning like, once that they are queer, and calling it a day. I wanted to know if this story did that too, and...does it? Friends, I don't know! Daoud and Mo both quietly hint that their relationship was more than just friendship. They are brown teen, Muslim boys, and there's a lot against them in the world. It makes sense that they wouldn't be boldly out, and god, when Daoud explained to Sik that he had tried to show Sik his family the portfolio, tried to show them his love for Mo? I really felt that. It isn't an out and proud queer kind of rep, but it feels like a realistic kind of rep. Coming out is hard, it's not always safe, and sometimes it's just hard to say the words. It makes so much sense to me that it wouldn't be easy for Daoud - Daoud, who lives with Mo's family, and whose own family is never mentioned, which hints a possible coming out that didn't go so well. There is a lot here, and it's kind of subtle, but this is a book for older readers (I put it in our tween collection) and I don't think this is bad rep, or rep that sidelines it's characters. But maybe others will feel differently! I don't know.

ANYWAY. This was fantastic, I absolutely loved Sik, his voice, his scrappy underdog style of tricking enemies - all of it was so freaking good. However. I am super down for book two being all about Belet ballet fighting her way into Kurnugi. Gimme!