Thursday, February 9, 2017

City of Saints and Thieves

Title:  City of Saints and Thieves
Author:  Natalie C. Anderson
Publication Information:  G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers. 2017. 432 pages.
ISBN:  0399547584 / 978-0399547584

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "If you're going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don't exist"

Favorite Quote:  "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."

The city of saints and thieves is the fictional Sangui City set in Kenya. The author's note describes it "for those who know Kenya, you can imagine Sangui City as a mix of Mombasa's coastal beauty and Nairobi's hustle." The setting is my primary reason for reading this book. I love books that take me to place I have never been and perhaps may never go. I have never been to Kenya; nor have a I read much about the country.

Interestingly, this book is as much a story of the Democratic Republic of Congo for this is a refugee story. Some of the main characters are those who escape the human rights atrocities in the Congo for the hope of a different life elsewhere. The victims of many of these human rights violations are women. Kenya has become home to many of these refugees; it provides a haven where the refugees can seek safety, peace, and a new beginning. This is not a conflict about which much is written in the Western press. This is my other reason for reading this book.

The beauty of Africa against the troubling acts of humans makes for an interesting contrast. Into this midst is the set the story of Tina or Tiny Girl. She is intelligent, courageous, and fierce. She survives on the streets as a thief, one of the best. She aligns with a local gang called the Goondas, who follow their own code and have their own agenda. Yet, she is very much a loner, not willing to trust or to accept friendship.

What drives Tina is revenge. She wants to avenge the murder of her mother. She believes Roland Greyhill, her mother's former employer, is responsible. When a job for the Goondas brings her back to the Greyhill estate, Tina believes it is her opportunity for vengeance.

As you might suspect, things are not quite as they seem. People are not who they seem. The ensuing drama of Tina, the Goondas, and the Greyhills weaves in past and present to bring in the history, to solve the mystery, and to complete Tina's coming-of-age story.

Given the age of the main characters, this book has very much of a young adult feel. The issues it deals with though involve murder and violence against women. So, parents beware. Determine the appropriateness for your teen. For me, this book is definitely on the older side of young adult.

The two challenges I find in this book is that at times, it is a slow read. This is surprising because the book seems centered around action. The center portion of the book particularly seems drawn out and too long. The beginning third and the final third are enough to surmise the entire plot.

The other challenge is the ending. It wraps everything up too neatly with no loose ends. Life is not that neat, and in a place torn apart by civil war and violence, life is definitely not that neat.

These two factors keep this book from a higher rating, but given that it is the author's debut novel, it promises good things to come.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment