CITY OF THIEVES (BATTLE DRAGONS #1), by Alex London, Scholastic Inc., Sept. 21, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
A boy gets caught up in a world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war in Alex London’s City of Thieves.
Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins ― criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.
Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he’s destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret…and a stolen dragon.
Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement…
To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.
When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what’s worth fighting for? —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Inc.
I did not enjoy City of Thieves. I never connected with the story. From the Yu-Gi-Oh-like trading cards to the gang wars and everything in between, it didn’t appeal to me. It’s not a book I would have enjoyed as a middle-reader, and it’s not one for me now.
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with City of Thieves or Alex London’s writing, which is actually quite clear and engaging. Some books just don’t resonate. And that’s OK.
City of Thieves has gotten some strong reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, which called the book “An exciting, accessible romp with a hint of something deeper.” And the book has received 4.5 stars on Goodreads. If City of Thieves sounds like a premise you may be interested in, I’d check out some of these other reviews to see if it’s a good fit.
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