"The streets of 1893 New York are full of life: crowded, filthy, dangerous. If you are a newsboy like thirteen-year- old Maks Geless, you need to watch out for Bruno, leader of the Plug Ugly Gang whose shadowy, sinister boss is plotting to take control of all the newsies on the lower East Side. With Bruno’s boys in fierce pursuit, Maks discovers Willa, a strange girl who lives alone in an alley. It is she, stick in hand, who fights off the Plug Uglies--but further dangers await. Maks must find a way to free his sister Emma from The Tombs, the city jail where she has been imprisoned for stealing a watch at the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks, believing her innocent, has only four days to prove it. Fortunately, there is Bartleby Donck, the eccentric lawyer (among other employments) to guide Maks and Willa in the art of detection. Against a backdrop alive with the sights and sounds of tenement New York, Maks, as boy detective, must confront a teeming world of wealth and crime, while struggling against powerful forces threatening new immigrants and the fabric of family love."-goodreads
I haven't read a really good middle-grade in quite a while (aside that I'm currently re-reading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" at a snail like pace to go along with Pottermore). I don't read middle-grade very often, but when I do I usually enjoy it (well, actually, specifically, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I enjoy any kind of book, as long is it's good, to me. That's the obvious requirement, and that's all.) "City of Orphans" fulfilled the good book requirement as well as the 'good middle-grade since I haven't read one in a while' requirement.
I really liked Maks, the main character. Throughout the novel, he deals with a whole lot of problems amicably but realistically. He experienced set backs and not everything went as planned, and that seems to happen too much especially in middle-grade. It wasn't a complete fairy tale. Willa was pretty epic too, tough girl who's also sensitive (which has been done a million times, but still). While I thought the characters were likable, I
didn't necessarily think they had as much depth as I would have liked...
The overall plot was good, well paced, a mystery that kept you reading to find out who the crook was, and when I did find out I was pretty sad for -insert character here-. I also liked that between the writing and the few illustrations scattered through out I felt the book come to life-- which is really important for the middle grade genre, I think (but any genre for the most part!)! The voice is quite important too and I thought that was also great. The bottom line: A great historical, stand-alone, middle-grade novel!
Thank you Simon&Schuster for the opportunity to review this book, readers, as usual it in no way affected my opinion!