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Adventures of Sik Aziz #1

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 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.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published January 12, 2021

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About the author

Sarwat Chadda

50 books511 followers
Sarwat Chadda has lived and traveled throughout the world, from China to Guatemala. He’s been lost in Mongolia, abandoned at a volcano in Nicaragua and hidden up a tree from a rhino in Nepal. Not to mention being detained by Homeland Security in the US and chased around Tibet by the Chinese police. Maybe he just has that sort of face.

Anyway, now he’s trying to settle in one place and stay out of trouble. Hence his new career as a writer. It’s safe, indoors and avoids any form of physical danger.

Throughout his travels, Sarwat has soaked up the myths, legends and cultures of far away places. Now, with the Ash Mistry series, he aims to bring these unfamiliar tales of ten-headed demons and blue-skinned heroes back home and put them beside the exploits of Achilles and Thor. His heroes are Prince Rama and the demon-slaying Kali. Isn't it about time you met them too?

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 596 reviews
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 301 books397k followers
December 24, 2020
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!



Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,420 reviews8,951 followers
December 9, 2022
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, spends most of his time outside school working in his family's deli. He loves being there, but all of that is threatened the night the deli is attacked by demons.



They're obviously searching for something, but Sik has no idea what. His family has nothing that could possibly be of value to the God the demons work for.

From there, things spiral very quickly. The deli is destroyed and Sik's parents become quite ill, victims of a new plague. The disease is spreading fast and Sik knows that Nergal is behind it. He needs to figure out why and stop him before all of Manhattan succumbs to the mysterious disease.



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 that was absolutely enchanting. The way it unfolded was just classic storytelling; so well done.



Having New York City as the setting added some extra charm for me. 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.



In many ways, Sik starts out as an underdog and watching him rise to the occasion, learn and grow, 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 to read and review. I appreciate it so much.

Now I need to go back and read all of Sarwat Chadda's other books!

Profile Image for Angelica.
802 reviews998 followers
March 30, 2021
This book is basically about a pandemic.
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.**

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Profile Image for Sheena.
558 reviews251 followers
January 11, 2021
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
Profile Image for The Artisan Geek.
445 reviews7,233 followers
Want to read
February 20, 2020
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!


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Profile Image for Beenish.
292 reviews325 followers
June 22, 2021
3 solid stars! | I really enjoyed this book but not much the protagonist. I also didn't like that I didn't get to know much of mesopotamian mythology which is why I was interested in this book. But it was cool and enjoyable!

Review to come.
Profile Image for Ashley.
756 reviews402 followers
February 10, 2021
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 !
Profile Image for Miranda.
135 reviews48 followers
January 13, 2021
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*
Profile Image for Natasha Ngan.
Author 7 books3,283 followers
July 9, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Emma☀️.
332 reviews325 followers
January 4, 2021
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!
Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 33 books3,887 followers
March 27, 2021
Funny, poignant, and everything I love about middle grade fantasy.
Profile Image for Lilah.
288 reviews211 followers
June 20, 2021


I really liked the idea behind this book, since I'm a sucker for mythology. But I feel like it was supposed to be about Mesopotamian mythology and yet 400 pages later and I still barely know anything about it.
When I read Rick Riordan's books I didn't feel like I had to look up every name or term because he talked about and explained all of them, so when I finished the book I felt like I could easily score an A+ on a random GM test.
I kinda had to google almost every god and beast and other terms used because they are not explained well, but rather randomly thrown at us.
ANYWAY, I liked the idea and I think if it was a duology or a trilogy it would have felt much more natural, because reading a book about such a broad subject as mythology, as a person who literally had zero knowledge when it came to Mesopotamian mythology, is bound to make the reader confused. So like, maybe expand the lore and dedicate more books to it. Just my opinion.

- - - -
?? Mythology AND Rick Riordan ??
Profile Image for Whitney.
511 reviews69 followers
December 29, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 148 books37.5k followers
Read
January 18, 2021
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
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,668 reviews851 followers
December 30, 2020
the best rick riordan presents since aru shah


Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Sikander (mc) Iraqi-American Muslim; Muslim & Middle Eastern scs.

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Kenzie The Dragon Queen.
241 reviews471 followers
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December 22, 2020
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.✨
Profile Image for Sabina Khan.
Author 6 books525 followers
October 2, 2020
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.
April 29, 2021
Wow! Reading so many books lately full of different cultures & mythology has given me a need for more. So I picked this up next, & I’m so happy I did-LOVED this! Such an epic adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology! Sik has a simple life going to school & 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, & that's about to get him & the entire city into deep trouble. Sik's not in this alone. He's got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love & war w/him, & a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now they just need to get the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. This has amazing character development, & spectacular story building. This deals w/loss, grief, family, fighting for what’s right, & fighting for your home, community, the people you love, & having pride for your heritage no matter where you come from-every single place is someone’s home that they love. Belet is a firecracker! She’s got a tough exterior, but she has so much more guarded beneath the surface. Sik & Daoud have my heart though. The amazing story building, constant action, & high-stakes makes this such a fast-paced read. I found the whole story so intensely fascinating! I also found the cuneiform so interesting! There’s also a glossary in the back for Islamic/Arabic/Mesopotamian terms. A couple terms the author points out are horribly misunderstood & people see them as sinister/scary. I love that he includes them anyway to help counteract that negative view. It broke my heart to read Sik’s struggles in NY as a Muslim boy-how sad is that sentence? He had to deal w/those ignorant & hateful things JUST b/c of where his family is from & his religion. It brought me back to right after 9/11, when all that hate was directed at Muslim Americans, just b/c of the same ignorance. It made me sick then & still does. The author points out through the characters dialogue that “Heroes don’t come in this shade..” 1 character who is an actor only gets roles as drug dealers, terrorists, etc. The same goes w/books-you hardly ever see a Muslim hero. The acknowledgments in the back gave me a new respect for Rick Riordan & what he’s doing w/Rick Riordan Presents. He is helping bring change, & that’s amazing. It was surreal to read about a plague taking over the city, but as it’s pointed out in the front & back of the book, this was written in 2018-& who would have ever thought we would be dealing w/what we are today then? Not me! Lol I don’t know if this is going to be a series or not, but I really hope so! Does anybody know? Highly recommend! Absolutely love this beautiful cover by Kerem Beyit too!💜
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews113 followers
February 1, 2021
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
Profile Image for Emily.
1,264 reviews331 followers
January 11, 2021
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
Profile Image for Rameela (Star).
646 reviews226 followers
December 5, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Lata.
3,431 reviews179 followers
January 11, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Kelly Lyn.
211 reviews
February 28, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,651 reviews614 followers
September 23, 2022
On the one hand, I'm glad I finally read this. It was a solidly fun middlegrade adventure, especially because I don't think I've ever read a retelling of Mesopotamian mythology before, which was really interesting and is exactly what I love about this imprint.

On the other hand, though, I found the main character to be such a flat character. I felt like every side character had more personality than him, which made it harder to actually feel invested in the story.
Profile Image for Wendy.
703 reviews6 followers
January 7, 2022
4.5* I've been on a roll with the Rick Riordan Presents books. This one features Mesopotamian mythology of which I know very little. I've heard of Gilgamesh and Ishtar, but don't really know details of their stories. This book stars Sik a 13 year old Iraqi-American living in New York City. He helps out at his family's deli. His older brother died in an accident and he still is dealing with it. Then he found himslef facing demons and the Plague God himself. All of a sudden, his parents are sick and comatose. They also became patients zero of a new plague sweeping through Manhattan. He has to find a way to cure his parents with the help of Ishtar and her daughter, Belet.
This book is written wonderfully. It's fun and goes along at a good pace. It also does not shy from dealing with death, grief, loss, and family dynamics. I listened to this as an audiobook and throughly enjoyed it. In fact, I recommend listening to the Rick Riordan and Riordan Presenys books. They've all been quite well-done.
Profile Image for Rajiv.
957 reviews62 followers
February 11, 2021

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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.
Profile Image for ReadBecca.
800 reviews85 followers
March 7, 2021
Sik is an Iraqi-American muslim living in NYC, who spends most of his time helping out with his parents deli ever since his older brother died. He's a normal kid, until Nergal the god of plagues and destruction shows up in the city with his minions, specifically coming after Sik for some reason. A plague breaks out, with suspicions pointing fingers not just at Sik himself, but his parents deli being the source of the outbreak. All of Sik's expectations of reality go out the window when he has to find help wherever he can, getting aid from the goddess Ishtar, grudgingly teaming up with the goddess fiery adopted daughter and a magical (talking) sword to stop the plague and win back his family's life, in a whirlwind of ancient Mesopotamian gods, demigods, monsters, demons and plague dogs.

This was so interesting to read in the midst of a pandemic, the introduction from Rick Riordan and the afterword from the author both talk about weighing the decision to publish or not right now, and I do think there is a lot here relevant to younger readers processing their situation. There are also quite a few things that you can't help but read from the context of where we are - particularly things like in the story the reaction to the plague is that there is basically a run on all types of vaccines (oof, if only that were real), or the blame/fear that comes with the spread of the plague (at one point a character says that fear is a virus too, boy is that real). There was also this really smart juxtaposition of the spreading virus and "going viral" used throughout that I found so insightful and relevant. This seems like a standalone, but I deeply hope it expands to a series.

Specifically on the audio narration, Vikas Adam is an absolute gem. The voices for everyone are so tangible and alive, especially the villians are brilliant, particularly one of the minions who speaks in rhyme. Definitely, go for the audio if you have the option.
Profile Image for Tiffany Martin.
319 reviews2 followers
December 10, 2020
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!
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