Jan 23rd

ARC Review of City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

Posted in Reviews
city-of-saints-and-thieves

Title: City of Saints and Thieves
Author: Natalie C. Anderson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Date Published: January 24, 2017
Where I Got It: From Publisher at YALLFest 2016
Purchase via our Amazon Affiliate Link

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and more than lived up to my hopes. The back of the book describes it as fast-paced and I certainly found myself unable to put it down. The setting is rich and the plot is gripping, but what kept me reading more than anything was the brilliantly characterized people of Anderson’s deftly crafted story.

City of Saints and Thieves takes place in Sangui City, Kenya–a city the author created, inspired in part by Mombasa and Nairobi. The story begins at the beginning of Tina’s quest for vengeance against the man she believes killed her mother, Mr. Greyhill. Years prior, Greyhill took them in after they fled from Congo as refugees, giving Tina and her sister safe haven as well as employing their mother. After her mother is found shot in his study, Tina takes her sister and flees. She takes Kiki, her sister, to a school run by nuns and Tina herself takes to the streets. There she becomes involved with the Goondas gang and discovers her penchant for thievery. As she trains and performs other tasks for the gang, she bides her time–her ultimate goal is to punish the man responsible for her mother’s death.

Tina is a strong character, powerful and angry but nuanced as well. The story is told from her first person point of view, at times terse but also beautifully written. While the story contains elements of romance, at no point does it cause her to lose sight of her goals or become less her own driven, intelligent person. She fights fiercely for revenge, for knowledge of her family’s past, for those she loves; she also has great emotional depth and isn’t portrayed as one dimensional. We follow her through the streets of Sangui City, to the rich neighborhoods that overlook it, and even back to her homeland of Congo. She’s on a journey to seek not only vengeance, but the truth–which ends up being far more complicated than the reader can imagine.

On this journey, she’s accompanied by two others: Boyboy and Michael. Michael is Greyhill’s son as well as Tina’s love interest, and I have to admit that I didn’t care for (or about) his character all that much. Boyboy was brilliant, however, and one of my favorite characters. He is Tina’s go-to guy for jobs that require technological know-how as well as one of her closest friends. In addition to being just as nerdy as one would expect given his role, he’s a flamboyant gay man. His characterization is unique and authentic. At times he provides a little levity, at times he delivers emotional depth. He is loyal, intelligent, funny, and is an integral part of Tina’s story.

While she played a smaller part, Catherine is probably the character who stuck with me the most after reading. I won’t speak too much about her to avoid any content that might be construed as a spoiler, but I would have loved to see more of her in the story–and I did love her role in how the climax resolves.

I highly recommend City of Saints and Thieves to all readers. There is definitely some content that could be disturbing to readers–war, sexual assault, and the brutal effects of colonization and greed are all themes explored. I didn’t find any of these things to be excessively graphic, however, and I believe the were important to the authenticity of the story. I also found that while these things are important to the story, Anderson doesn’t portray a one-dimensional, monolithic Africa that we frequently see represented in Western media. There is struggle and suffering, but also an exploration of the rich culture of Kenya and Congo, with characters who use modern technology and go about their daily lives like anyone else in the world–something that often isn’t addressed in depictions of Africa that we’re exposed to. City of Saints and Thieves was a brilliantly written book, full of twists and turns, emotional ups and downs, and well fleshed out characters. I hope I’ve convinced you to pick up a copy and give it a try!

city-of-saints-and-thieves

Title: City of Saints and Thieves
Author: Natalie C. Anderson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Date Published: January 24, 2017
Where I Got It: From Publisher at YALLFest 2016
Purchase via our Amazon Affiliate Link

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and more than lived up to my hopes. The back of the book describes it as fast-paced and I certainly found myself unable to put it down. The setting is rich and the plot is gripping, but what kept me reading more than anything was the brilliantly characterized people of Anderson’s deftly crafted story.

City of Saints and Thieves takes place in Sangui City, Kenya–a city the author created, inspired in part by Mombasa and Nairobi. The story begins at the beginning of Tina’s quest for vengeance against the man she believes killed her mother, Mr. Greyhill. Years prior, Greyhill took them in after they fled from Congo as refugees, giving Tina and her sister safe haven as well as employing their mother. After her mother is found shot in his study, Tina takes her sister and flees. She takes Kiki, her sister, to a school run by nuns and Tina herself takes to the streets. There she becomes involved with the Goondas gang and discovers her penchant for thievery. As she trains and performs other tasks for the gang, she bides her time–her ultimate goal is to punish the man responsible for her mother’s death.

Tina is a strong character, powerful and angry but nuanced as well. The story is told from her first person point of view, at times terse but also beautifully written. While the story contains elements of romance, at no point does it cause her to lose sight of her goals or become less her own driven, intelligent person. She fights fiercely for revenge, for knowledge of her family’s past, for those she loves; she also has great emotional depth and isn’t portrayed as one dimensional. We follow her through the streets of Sangui City, to the rich neighborhoods that overlook it, and even back to her homeland of Congo. She’s on a journey to seek not only vengeance, but the truth–which ends up being far more complicated than the reader can imagine.

On this journey, she’s accompanied by two others: Boyboy and Michael. Michael is Greyhill’s son as well as Tina’s love interest, and I have to admit that I didn’t care for (or about) his character all that much. Boyboy was brilliant, however, and one of my favorite characters. He is Tina’s go-to guy for jobs that require technological know-how as well as one of her closest friends. In addition to being just as nerdy as one would expect given his role, he’s a flamboyant gay man. His characterization is unique and authentic. At times he provides a little levity, at times he delivers emotional depth. He is loyal, intelligent, funny, and is an integral part of Tina’s story.

While she played a smaller part, Catherine is probably the character who stuck with me the most after reading. I won’t speak too much about her to avoid any content that might be construed as a spoiler, but I would have loved to see more of her in the story–and I did love her role in how the climax resolves.

I highly recommend City of Saints and Thieves to all readers. There is definitely some content that could be disturbing to readers–war, sexual assault, and the brutal effects of colonization and greed are all themes explored. I didn’t find any of these things to be excessively graphic, however, and I believe the were important to the authenticity of the story. I also found that while these things are important to the story, Anderson doesn’t portray a one-dimensional, monolithic Africa that we frequently see represented in Western media. There is struggle and suffering, but also an exploration of the rich culture of Kenya and Congo, with characters who use modern technology and go about their daily lives like anyone else in the world–something that often isn’t addressed in depictions of Africa that we’re exposed to. City of Saints and Thieves was a brilliantly written book, full of twists and turns, emotional ups and downs, and well fleshed out characters. I hope I’ve convinced you to pick up a copy and give it a try!

By Oliver Lumpkin

Oli oli oxen-free

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *