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City of Saints & Thieves Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 24, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Tina has been developing her plan for revenge against her mother's killer for five years, and it's finally time to set it in motion. But things don't go quite as planned when she breaks into Roland Greyhill's palatial estate in the hills above bustling Sangui City, Kenya. Greyhill's son, Michael, who was Tina's best friend when her mother worked as a maid in the house, catches her downloading information from his father's computer. His condition for not turning her in? Teaming up with him to prove that his father is innocent of murder. Tina staunchly believes in Roland's guilt—he and her mother had been having an affair, and her mother's body had been found in Roland's private study. But Tina feels she has no choice but to play along. Their investigation involves members of the local gang Tina joined after her mother's death, smugglers, oil company executives, and a dissolute journalist, and it takes Tina, Michael, and her friend Boyboy into the remote area of Congo where Tina was born as they try to learn whether something in her mother's past led to her death. Themes of war-time horrors, post-traumatic stress disorder, economic disparity, and colonialism are seamlessly woven into a solidly plotted, swiftly paced international murder mystery that's laced with just a hint of romance. VERDICT Highly recommended for teens looking for a gritty, suspenseful, immersive read driven by a tough, smart, realistic heroine.—Stephanie Klose, School Library Journal
Praise for City of Saints & Thieves:
An Amazon Best Book of the Month – January 2017
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick
A Barnes & Noble Most Anticipated YA Debut of 2017
An Apple iBooks Best of January 2017 Pick
Winter 2016-2017 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
Indies Introduce Winter/Spring 2017 Pick
A Teen Vogue Best New Young Adult Book – January 2017
A Bustle Best YA Book – January 2017
A 2017 Chicago Public Library’s Best Teen Fiction Pick
A Seventeen Magazine Best Book Pick of 2017
A 2017 B&N Best Young Adult Book
An NPR 2017 Best Book
“City of Saints & Thieves is a twisty-turny-chock-full-of-secrets, so exciting-you-have-to-force-yourself-to-take-breaks-and-breathe kind of novel. . . . [Tina’s] emotional journey feels compelling and true.”—The New York Times
★ “[I]n this fast-paced thriller… Anderson adeptly uses language to bring Tina’s world to life as she carefully traces her heroine’s history to reveal a shocking truth.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ “[A] wonderfully twisted puzzle of a murder mystery.”—Booklist, starred review
★ “[A] solidly plotted, swiftly paced international murder mystery that’s laced with just a hint of romance. . . . Highly recommended for teens looking for a gritty, suspenseful, immersive read driven by a tough, smart, realistic heroine.”—School Library Journal, starred review
★ “[B]y setting a fast-paced crime drama with compelling characters in this fraught region, Anderson does the good service of interesting young readers in this ongoing human conflict and the tragic toll it continues to take on the people of the region.”—BCCB, starred review
★ “Natalie C. Anderson's breathtaking debut is deep, dark and—remarkably for the subject—quite funny at times. . . . Pages will fly by as readers root for Tiny and her loved ones.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review
“Ocean’s Eleven meets Blood Diamond: Natalie C. Anderson’s City of Saints & Thieves, a gripping tale of revenge and redemption, tracks a murderer through the jungles of Congo and the far reaches of cyberspace, shining a light on the importance of family and friendship along the way—a perfect cocktail of suspense, action and heart.”—Tara Sullivan, critically acclaimed author of Golden Boy and The Bitter Side of Sweet
“City of Saints & Thieves will pull you from the very first page into a rarely seen world, violent and beautiful, where the only rule is survival and the only weapons are a young woman’s courage and love.”—Francisco X. Stork, award-winning author of Marcelo in the Real World and The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
“In prose as tenacious as her vendetta-driven and irresistible protagonist, Anderson interweaves personal and national tragedies, answering legacies of loss with the promise of family and friendship. City of Saints & Thieves is a world opener of a debut, one worth reading and remembering.”—Ashley Hope Pérez, Printz Honor–winning author of Out of Darkness
“A story full of twists and turns, proving nothing is ever as black and white as it may seem.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] linguistically beautiful murder mystery tale that will have you tearing through the pages, all along its twist and turns.”—Bustle
“A teenage Congolese refugee (a blend of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander and X-Men’s Storm) in Kenya seeks revenge for the killing of her mother.”—Hollywood Reporter
“A gripping journey of vengeance.”—US Weekly
“Anderson’s dark thriller will appeal to readers who prefer their mysteries political and their stakes high and who will feel rewarded by solutions in shades of gray rather than black-and-white.”—The Horn Book
“This nail-biting murder mystery set in Kenya follows Tina, a Congolese refugee, as she tracks down her mother's killer in the midst of corrupt businessmen, a master thief, and a street gang.”—Seventeen.com
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And that's basically it.
The protagonist must live in the streets of Kenya and join a gang to survive, there she learns what she needs in order to get back to the men who killed her mother. But in order to get at her enemy she is forced to relive her own past.
* WHAT I LIKED *
* The narrator. I enjoyed the laid-back narrator, Tiny Girl, so much. She guided me through her world as a friend showing a messy room. Her voice was informal, friendly and honest. I laughed when she made funny remarks and felt her anguish when she was in trouble.
* Sometimes things went wrong. I feel like in most thrillers or mystery books the protagonists have extremely good luck. They always fool everyone, there are never minor mishaps like in real life and people are never bothered by minor inconveniences. Am I asking for too much if I want a flat tire when they are about to escape? Maybe. But this book has its flat tire scenes and it made everything more fun.
* The setting. I don't tend to read about people living in the middle of a war, slaves, disease or people getting hurt in general. I prefer to have fun and be happy during my reading time. But I also think that reading about these subjects is a good way to be informed and be more empathetic towards certain situations. Though the city and the characters on this book are not real, the story is based on real events affecting the people in Congo and other parts of Africa.
* WHAT I DISLIKED *
* It was 50 pages too long. I really loved the beginning of this book. I liked the end. But I struggled in the middle. I had to force myself to read a bunch of boring and purposeless pages in order to get to the good parts. I feel like they could cut 50 pages from the middle of this book and people wouldn't notice. Most of the boring stuff is people talking about theories that I had already made, and people describing settings that I didn't care about, like the view, the weather or random people doing random stuff in the background.
* Not enough action and a bit slow. It has its moments of action, of course. A couple of times I caught myself holding my breath so the bad guys in the book wouldn't listen. But I think it has just two or three action scenes distributed trough the book, and the rest is slower and not so thrilling.
* A bit predictable. I think most of the clues you get through the book are a bit too obvious. It did surprise me with a big revelation, but the rest were too easy to guess and the outcome for each character was what I expected from the beginning. I still had fun, maybe this wouldn't have been an issue in a shorter book.
* YOU SHOULD READ IT IF *
* You are looking for a YA thriller with a murder mystery
* You want another perspective on human rights violations in Congo
* You like action movies about stealing information
* You love laid-back friendly narrators
Many thanks to Penguin Random House for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Review originally published on my blog PrettyGeekery.