Middle School Monday – The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
From the jacket copy:
Built on an ancient mountain pass, the city is forever being invaded by one nation or another, and every new master gives it a new name. But for the natives, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name it are forever outsiders.
Dreamy, sheltered Kaidu is one such outsider. He’s a Dao born and bred–a son of the latest nation to occupy the Nameless City. Cynical, street-smart Rat is a native, and at first she hates Kai for everything he stands for. But Kai’s love of his new home may be the one thing that can unite these two unlikely friends. And they will need to stand together at all costs…because the fate of the Nameless City rests in their hands.
Kai has grown up in Dao, his mother the leader of his tribe. He knows nothing of the city when he arrives, except that the father he has never met lives there. Kai has come to train as a warrior at the palace, to one day be a part of the force that keeps control of the city. On his first trip into the city alone, he quickly becomes lost. When he is approached by Rat (who saw him earlier with his father) her open hostility is a welcome relief from the response of the rest of the locals, who blatantly ignore his requests for directions back to the palace.
Rat is a child of the streets. She has no family, no home, and no access to food or shelter beyond what she is sometimes offered by the monks or kindly strangers. She and Kaidu slowly form a friendship as Kai brings her enormous amounts of food he ‘liberates’ from the palace, and Rat teaches Kai how to navigate the city. Together, they uncover a plot to kill the General of all Blades – the leader of the Dao in the city.
This is an extremely engaging story, with fascinating art work. But what really worked for me about it was the level playing field that Rat and Kai share. Although Kai seems to have all of the advantages, Rat has just as much to bring to the friendship. With recommendations from the likes of Bone author Jeff Smith, Amulet author Kazu Kibuishi, and Scott Westerfeld, this is clearly going to be a heavy hitter on the graphic novel front.
Scheduled for release in April of 2016, The Nameless City is the first of a planned trilogy. Its sequel will be titled The Stone Heart.
Filed under: Middle School Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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