Clover Book Club: City of Saints and Thieves
True story: We had no idea that Natalie C. Anderson’s novel City of Saints and Thieves would soon be hitting Hollywood when we picked it for our February book club. But now that Kerry Washington’s given this captivating YA thriller her stamp of approval, we’re doubly obsessed.
All we could think while reading this twisty drama was, “OMG this needs to be a movie,” and apparently the Scandal star was on the same page. Maybe literally. Filled with a badass young protagonist (nicknamed Tiny, but her bravery is huge), this revenge mystery pops off the page. Before it pops onto a screen, we gave out some copies to Rivers, from Virginia, and Lizzie, from Texas, to host their very own book club. Here’s what they thought...
Rivers Hoag, 15, Virginia
From the first time I read the summary of City of Saints and Thieves online, I knew I would fall in love with it. A diverse, young adult novel set in Kenya, with a strong female lead? Yes, thank you. Soon after I received the copies, I invited several of my close friends over for the book club meeting and we had a really nice time. I really appreciated the fact that the book was set in the real world, rather than following the typical dystopian universe setting/saving-the-world plot so common in YA novels. It helped me connect with Tina, the main character, a lot more than I would have otherwise. The writing was fantastic, and the character development was very realistic.
As soon as we started discussing the book during the meeting, I found that my friends had loved it as much (or even more!) than I did. As my friend Nikki put it, "I feel like this book was really well written in the way that I never got bored. I felt like I was being drawn in, like I was actually there." My friend Mina loved the novel’s setting: “Not only did I enjoy this book and feel entertained, but I also felt like I learned more about Africa."
All in all, we ate some really good baked goods, raved extensively about the book (occasionally slamming the table in agreement), and listened to a mix of Beyonce and weird indie music. We also somehow ended up having a really good talk about boy troubles and schoolwork, and the Oscars. I feel like the world could use more original, seriously well written YA novels, and more book clubs too.
Lizzie Kalvesmaki, 16, Texas
I was so excited when I found out I’d be hosting Clover’s real-life (!) book club this month, and even more excited that the book was City of Saints and Thieves.
This is a YA story set in the fictional city of Sangui, Kenya, and I enjoyed it immensely. Diversity in young adult literature has been such a hot topic lately, and for good reason. People of color and LGBT+ people are often left out of the narrative in YA, and sometimes the genre can kind of all feel the same. But City is wonderfully diverse, from the setting to the plot, and it made for a truly unique experience.
Everyone who I invited to the book club enjoyed it as much as I did. We talked about everything from being “so shook” about the plot twists to where Ketchup and Boyboy got their nicknames. We all agreed that City was a refreshing YA novel, and we all really loved how it was written. My friend Gabriella said she “liked that it was first person, because you could really see the conflict Tina had with herself.” All of us agreed that Natalie C. Anderson painted a really accurate picture of what any one of us would do in an extreme situation like the protagonist’s. Even the love story, which some of us had mixed feelings about, was really well done. “I liked the romance because it was slow-burning, and it didn’t get in the way of the plot,” explained my friend Diana. “They didn’t really get together until after everything happened, so I liked it a lot more.”
City was beautifully atmospheric, and we really felt immersed in Sangui City and the depths of the Congolese jungle. “I’ve never read a book like this before,” said my friend Elizabeth. And none of us had read a YA thriller before, so it was so exciting to pick up something so different. City was such an immersive un-put-down-able book, so grab the fast-paced thriller (and your friends!).
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This post was brought to you by our pals at Penguin Teen. Now that you’re fully convinced that City of Saints and Thieves is a total must-read, order it online here.