I received this book for free from Publisher at ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Putnam Books for Young Readers on January 24th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Source: Publisher at ALA Midwinter
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling YA murder mystery set in Kenya.
In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn't exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill's personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.
With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.
City of Saints & Thieves immediately drew me into the story as we follow our main character, Tina, break into the much guarded home of the man she believes killed her mother five years earlier. Needless to say, her careful plan doesn’t work out just as she hoped and we are taken on an adventure through the streets of Sangui City and the Congo as Tina, with the help of a couple friends, tries to prove what she always believed about her mother’s murder and fit in the missing pieces she’s missing on the why.
Tina has been living on the streets of Sangui City since her mom died, thieving with a street gang called the Goondas to survive and visiting her little sister at her convent school every Friday. She is quick, smart, determined and strong. She is kind of a badass who knows how to get what she wants and what she wants more than anything is revenge. Dirt, money, blood. That’s the plan. She has always known just who the killer was and nothing was more important than making him pay. She is thrown off course when she is caught and is forced to reevaluate what she believes to be the truth. Tina, along with her friends Boyboy and Michael, follow the trail back to the Congo, where Tina and her mother escaped from when she was just a young child. I loved the setting of this book more than anything. The descriptions of the Congo felt so real and raw, telling the story of a land wracked with violence. Their mission becomes more dangerous each second and I definitely found myself worrying and waiting with bated breath many times. The last 30% of the book or so is very hard to put down as we finally discover the answers Tina has been seeking.
Unraveling the mystery around her mother’s death showed Tina that there was so much about her mother and their lives before they became refugees that she didn’t know. Discovering of these missing pieces made the story very exciting, even if I had a few things figured out myself beforehand. There was action, suspense, and pot twists thrown in. The whole story was so tragic yet beautifully written. This is a debut author to keep an eye on!