|City of the plague god (Adventures of Sik Aziz)
Author: Chadda, Sarwat
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.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 510646
Kirkus Reviews (11/01/20)
School Library Journal (11/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (12/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 11/01/2020 Gr 5–7—Thirteen-year-old Sikander Aziz's parents are the patients zero of a plague attacking New York City. Before they were isolated in a hospital ward, Sik's parents, who are Iraqi refugees, owned a successful deli in Manhattan, which thrived even as the family grieved the recent loss of Sik's older brother Mo. When Sik finds out that Nergal, a Mesopotamian plague god, is behind the pandemic, he teams up with new friend Belet and her adoptive mother, the goddess Ishtar, before bringing Gilgamesh out of retirement. This is a lush read with high appeal, full of apocalyptic drama, fight scenes, and stomach-churning descriptions of Nergal and his band of demons, balanced with Sik's dry humor and a cast of quirky, vivid characters. Belet is a brilliant fighter and is best friends with Kasasu, her sarcastic, talking sword; Gilgamesh is a pacifist and vegan baker; and Mo's friend Daoud (and, readers eventually learn, his great love) is a vain actor in denial that he is being typecast as a terrorist. There are other instances of Islamophobia in the story, and Muslim identity is an essential theme. The dialogue includes Arabic phrases and terms relating to Islam, all listed in a glossary, and there is even a reconciliation between Sik's Muslim faith and the existence of multiple gods and goddesses. VERDICT Featuring gods and goddesses and, importantly, Muslim heroes, this #OwnVoices tale eerily echoes our pandemic present; but readers will find escape in the entertaining balance of an apocalyptic setting with irreverent humor.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn P.L. - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 12/01/2020 Sikander “Sik” Aziz, a Muslim boy, works all night at his parents’ New York deli in the aftermath of his brother Mo’s death. As he closes up late one night, Sik is attacked by two gangly and gross demons, and despite his wish to stay in “the real world,” he gets a quick and not-at-all warm welcome from Nergal, the Mesopotamian god of disease and war. Nergal is certain that Mo stole something from him during a trip to Iraq, and has come to collect—and he’s willing to kill all of New York if he doesn’t get what he’s looking for. When it turns out that Sik’s classmate Belet is the adopted daughter of love goddess Ishtar, Sik has to face facts: the real world just got a lot more interesting. Sik has the trademark snark and humor of all heroes from Riordan's imprint, which makes this venture into one of the world’s oldest mythologies more fun—and is especially appreciated given that this villain is a plague god making his literary debut during a pandemic. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.