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City of Saints & Thieves

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  5,709 ratings  ·  1,152 reviews
Librarian's note: There is an Alternate Cover Edition for this edition of this book here.

The more you see, the less you know.

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who does not exist.

Tina and her mother first arrived in Kenya as refugees from Congo desperately searching for a better life. Trading the peril of their besieged village for the busy metropolis of San
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  5,709 ratings  ·  1,152 reviews

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4.5 stars
update: accidentally deleted this review, so here it is again :/

If this is a sign of what is forthcoming in young adult fiction this year, consider me an extremely happy lady. I'm in!

A young adult contemporary standalone set in modern day Africa. It is a revenge story that is also part murder mystery. The main reason to pick this up is for the rich and beautiful setting. It also doesn’t hurt that the writing is very strong. There’s a great deal of diversity and the story is enthralling.
Trina (Between Chapters)
Video review (spoiler free)-

The writing was fine. The characters were good. I appreciated that the author seemed to have done a lot of research, having worked with refugees in Kenya and that she included information in the author's note about which parts were fictionalized and which were not, as well as including a list of resources for you to learn more.

The reason this is only 3 stars for me is because this is not the style of mystery I enjoy. I was intrigued by the
Emily May
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Question: What is worth more than diamonds and gold? What is the most stable currency? What thing, when stolen, becomes most dangerous and precious of all?
Answer: a secret.

What a well-written, exciting thriller!

City of Saints & Thieves is set in Kenya, where Tina - a Congolese refugee - is a member of the Goondas, a gang of street thieves. Tina looks out for her beloved younger sister, Kiki, whilst also longing for revenge against the man she knows murdered her mother: the wealthy Mr. Greyh
City of Saints and Thieves is a fast-paced murder-mystery, moving between contemporary Kenya and Congo and providing a real eye-opener on the Congolese Civil War and the plight of its refugees. The story follows Tina who has been forced to survive on the streets and eventually recruited as a thief into a notorious gang, the Goondas, after her mother’s murder. Tina’s burning desire for vengeance is what keeps her going and motivates her to work her way up the gang’s hierarchy so that she can acce ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fiction, netgalley
“People are complicated creatures, my dear. The ways they find of explaining the bad things that happen in the world are not always the right ones. Sometimes they are simply the easy ones. They are the ones that give them enough comfort to sleep at night, the ones that let them take the blame off themselves.”
I had two days off of work for the inauguration and I intended to spend them both reading my way into distraction, but I ended up mostly just lying on the couch unable to focus on much o
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Now THAT'S how you write a YA thriller. ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher, reviewed
This is a young adult thriller that deals with more important themes than I usually associate with the genre. Sixteen year-old Tina became a street kid in Kenya after the murder of her mother who was working as a maid in the Greyhill household comprised of a rich, white American ex-pat, his Kenyan wife, their son Michael and their daughter. Mr. Greyhill is also the father of 11-year-old Kiki, Tina's half sister, who has been in a convent school since the murder. Tina joined up with a gang of str ...more
Kate (GirlReading)
I enjoyed the Kenyan setting and the fact that the author seemed to have done a lot of research into what they were writing about but for me, the thriller/mystery aspect was a bit lacking. I was hoping for an intense, page turning read and unfortunately that's not what I got. I think a lot of people would really enjoy this but as someone who loves a thriller with a lot of tension and keeps me guessing, I was a bit disappointed. That being said, it was an enjoyable read, just not the read I was h ...more
enqi ☁️✨ (hiatus due to college)
i just picked this book up in my local bookstore and THAT COVER 😍 i'm so tempted to buy it just because it's so beautiful but my wallet is crying right now ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to the publisher and Goodreads Giveaway for giving me the chance to read this book :).

This is going to sound wrong haha but, it felt like I was reading this book longer... I work overnight so time kind of bleeds together and it is hard to keep track of days (Sometimes when someone asks me when I'm off and I say the number they ask me what day that is and I shrug and say "Whatever day *insert number*
4.5 stars

The more I think about this book, more I feel I should give it less stars but no matter how many negatives come to my mind, I can't deny the simple fact that I enjoyed the hell out of myself reading this book. City of Saints and Thieves marked as Murder mystery set in modern say Congo amids the war and conflict. The mystery aspect was not very good, but the characters, writing, diversity, and research done was spot on.

I loved Tina. She was strong headed and cunning. Her narration was re
Elle (ellexamines)
City of Saints and Thieves is a well-paced, character driven thriller. Maybe the plot is nothing new, but the protagonist and the research stand out enough that it's still worth the read.

The largest thing that sets this novel apart is obviously the setting. The protagonist is a refugee from Congo, and the book focuses on NGO activity in the Congo. I have to praise the author for excellent research on this front; her research stands out.

Tina's character is definitely very strong. Her arc as she
This could have been so good.

There's a spark missing, a level of dust and heat and danger that never really came through despite the setting and the plot. The characters were a little too cut-out, a little too predictable (though Boyboy stole every scene). Why base the book in a fictional city? Why start every chapter with a new "rule"? This could have been so good, but somewhere it missed the mark and settled softly into just "ok".

And yet - if you're going to read a "just ok" YA novel, with a
Kristy K
DNF 60%

Maybe it's me, maybe it's the books I've been reading, but YA no longer holds my attention. This book has gotten a lot of high reviews and love for being fast paced and a thriller, but I didn't get any of that.
Great for those people who think that Africa is synonym to poverty and underdevelopment. This book actually treats it as a real place, with real people, with struggles and triumphs, instead of a prop for the white man to save. However, there are some flaws: I thought the ending was a bit too predictable.

Some characters are very interesting, such as Boyboy and, ironically, Mr. Greyhill, and Tina’s dead mother. The adults definitely are the most interesting characters in this YA novel.

It’s an ent
I'm always skeptical when a book is blurbed as a cross between one of my favorite books and something else, and I'm not 100% sure I see the connection between The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and City of Saints & Thieves, but I enjoyed it regardless. The mystery kept me hooked, the characters were complex, I didn't guess all the surprises, it was culturally and sexually diverse, and I LOVED the setting. City of Saints & Thieves is an excellent debut and should be at the top of everyone's 2017 TBR ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this audio book, The narrator had the perfect accent for it. The story was fast paced and the characters were very well introduced. Tina or Christina has had a mission since her mother was assassinated , to find the killer and make him pay. She already know that Mr G killed her ( the boss her mom worked for), so she has dedicated her life to bring him down and protect her sister (kiki). Caught in the middle of a robbery by Michael (Mr g's son) she will have to change that plan and ...more
Imogene Dacanay
ARC REVIEW: City of Saints and Thieves
**Thank you Penguin Random House International for providing an ARC of this title in exchange of an honest review.**

Please take note thar this review is based on an ARC.

A YA novel I never thought I'd love!

What had me hooked was the first rule in being a thief. "If you're going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don't exist."

The unique setting quite fascinated me. I now have enough knowledge about Kenya. I mean, if I am not mista
Nic Stone
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a ride!

What I knew going into this book: it was about a Congolese refugee who steals to survive her rough life on the streets of a fictional city in Kenya, looking for revenge on the man who killed her mother.

What I know coming out of it: things aren't always black and white/good and bad in the real world... so they don't have to be in books. That was my favorite thing about this story. Nothing is easy or neat or wrapped up in a bow. It explores the true meaning of friendship and examines
Jay G
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel:

After the murder of her mother, Tina joins a gang called "The Goondas". For four years, Tina bides her time waiting until she can seek her revenge on Mr. Geryhill, the man who shot her mother. She has always been confident about who killed her mother, but when new information comes to light, she starts to second guess everything she thought she knew.

I found it interesting that a lot of
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read as an ARC.

OMG, I am not worthy. This book will drop you in a world of stunning poverty and wealth and the heroes and villains who come from both. And the crazy thing is- this shit is real. Tiny is a special kind of heroine because she's all too possible, both in character and in situation. This story is an amazing look into modern Africa with its refugees, fleeing their homes for a better life or defiantly staying when they know militants who protected them yesterday could kill them tomorro
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
I got over 100 pages in and had yet to get invested in Tina's story. I should care much more than I do considering she's a homeless teen trying to avenge her mother's death and make sure her sister is provided for, but none of the characters jump off the page. I'm gonna keep doing what I did last year and not be afraid to DNF something I have no interest in. This time, I'm keeping count!

DNF #1 of 2017.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reads
WHAT. A. RIDE. While the blurb comps The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (definitely shares some DNA) and Gone Girl (not so much in my opinion), City of Saints and Thieves is such a special, inventive, fresh read that is pure adrenaline in terms of its plot but also gives you ancillary characters to really invest in, a whodunit that becomes more complex as the evidence builds and adds twists, a glittering yet gritty world of Sendai City where anything feels possible and an array of hustlers, thiev ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A more complete review is available on my blog:

Young Adult fiction is usually not for me. I have read some YA books that I have really enjoyed (The Hunger Games trilogy comes to mind) but it is a genre that I don't usually connect with unless there is something else in the book that is interesting or meaningful to me. City of Saints & Thieves was one such book. It was both a mystery and a multicultural read in one, which really intrigued me and drew me in
Trigger warnings: murder, death of a parent, war, gang activity, refugee experiences.

I saw incredibly excited when I came across a copy of this when I was in the UK in July, because how many YA books set in Africa are there? ALMOST NONE. So obviously I bought it immediately even though I'd heard slightly mixed things about it.

So the gist of the story is that a number of years earlier, Tina's mother - who was working as a maid to a big important mining magnate in Kenya - was brutally murdered. T
For the most part, I liked the fast paced writing style, the setting and the mystery aspect of the book. My problem with the book is that the way the characters interacted felt forced. I just didn't buy the logic behind their choices. But still, it was an okay read/ ...more
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. This book was amazing. Right away, I was taken with Tina. Her life as a thief, the gritty descriptions of Sangui City, and her love for her sister. But it was when she got caught that I was HOOKED, and the story got more and more addicting from there. (This happens early on and is in the book description so no spoilers). This book has lots of interesting and complex characters - many I'd want to stay far far away from - but my favorites besides Tina are Boyboy and Michael. This story ...more
Valliya Rennell

Natalie C. Anderson's first novel, City of Saints & Thieves, was a phenomenal first novel. It had a heart pounding plot and action, and realistic characters. It follows a girl named Christina (Tina) and her struggle to find out who her mother's killer. She is a Goonda a.k.a. a thief. In fact, she is the best thief in the town of Sangui. She was never caught until she was told to loot Mr. Greyhill's house... the man that killed her mother. Now she is forced into an alliance with his son to fi

An ARC was kindly provided by Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest review. This has not influenced my opinion in any way.

Actual rating: 3.5 stars (Rounded up because of a very rare loophole called Nina does what she wants. *evil laughter*.

(No, but in all seriousness, this book's fabulous originality is what made me round it's rating up. Just so you know.)


I am quite impressed with City of Saints and Thieves.

Very impressed, in fact.

I previously had heard nothing but good things
I've received this arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The City of Saints and Thieves brings some fresh air to the realm of young adult novels. Not due to its plot or execution - the concept of a kickass girl seeking revenge is not a new one - but because of the setting. Set in the modern day Africa, ruled by warlords, militia, gangs and the desire to survive, this read offers us a glance into the world that is rarely, if at all, used as a location in ya literature. Auth
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Natalie C. Anderson is a writer and international development professional living in Boston, Massachusetts. She has spent the last decade working with NGOs and the UN on refugee relief and development, mainly in Africa. She was selected as the 2014-2015 Associates of the Boston Public Library Children's Writer in Residence, where she wrote her debut novel, City of Saints and Thieves.

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“I only know how to read because I steal books from rich people.” 6 likes
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