Book Review: City of the Plague God

All through school I didn’t care for history class. It seemed to be nothing but the study of war. We never looked at anything in BCE at all.

Then I took ancient history and learned to view history outside the lens of the US. We looked at Egyptian history, the Assyrians, Babylonians, and touched on Eastern History. The professor (and archeologist) brought fossils for us to hold and Egyptian statues. I held in my hand a thing that was 3,000 years old, made by a real person. It was amazing! History came alive and I learned the value of learning history to see how each generation has stood on the shoulders of the previous one to make advancements. When we forget that we lose something. Centuries later, we discover what that the ancient Mayans and Egyptians had mathematics and abilities to build with incredible precision. Then we marvel at what those “primitive” people accomplished, when we should marvel at our nearsightedness for forgetting such skills.

Okay. Sorry. End of rant.

One of the reasons I love reading RR books is that I get to learn about other cultures and their mythology. This story contained a ton of mythology I’ve never read before. The only character I’d heard of was Gilgamesh. If, like me, you are a bit rusty on the story because you haven’t read it since college, May I suggest this recap:

City of the Plague God

Rick Riordan Presents
by Sarwat Chadda

The main character, Sik, is a 13 year old who helps his family run their restaurant in New York. Then their restaurant has a break in and the robbers tear it apart looking for something. Sik doesn’t have any idea what they are looking for. A girl named Belet shows up and helps him out. They fend off the thugs, but soon a plague travels across the city. Fear and mayhem ensue. (Gosh, that sounds familiar!) Sik meets a series of gods, goddesses, and ancient heroes including Ishtar, Nergal, and Gilgamesh. He and Belet search for the item to prevent Nergal from getting his hands on it and, of course, rule the world.

I always enjoy Rick Riordan Presents books because I love learning about the mythology of other cultures. Also, one of the things I love most about this book specifically is that Sik learns more about his brother who died and wrestles with his feelings of love and jealousy. He is not just trying to solve they mystery of what Nergal wants and then finding it. He has wrestled with his jealousy for awhile and since his brother apparently sent Sik the thing they are looking for, Sik is constantly reminded of all the adventures his brother must have had on his travels back to their home country. Belet also had conflicting emotions about her adoptive mother, Ishtar.

This book began with a bang and didn’t stop very often. I read it in two sittings. The pacing was very quick, but also had depth and excellent character growth as Sik and Belet wrestled and overcame their emotions to find peace within themselves. Peace is something we all need right now. Am I right?

Take Away:

Complex character emotions help make characters more round and more relatable. I think many people have someone they love and yet are envious of some aspect of that person. We all wrestle with conflicting emotions of some kind, so look at your WIP and see what conflicting emotions your MC has. There is none? Fix that. Now…time to practice what I preach and examine my MC.

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