The Nameless City

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Nameless City Book Poster Image
Teens fight to save city in action-packed graphic novel.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Paints a portrait of a crowded ancient metropolis. It provides lessons about trust and perseverance.

Positive Messages

Constant practice can lead to mastery of difficult tasks. People from different societies can learn to trust each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kaidu and Rat come from very different backgrounds, but they're able to forge a strong friendship based on their shared love of their city. Dreamy and sheltered, Kaidu learns the power of discipline and commitment, while cynical Rat learns that she shouldn't feel contempt for all foreigners.


There are a few violent scenes but little actual bloodshed. Kaidu gets thrown around in martial arts training. He and Rat are caught in a riot, and she's shot with an arrow. The teens foil an assassination attempt.


Kaidu and Rat are platonic friends now, but sparks might fly later.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Nameless City is the first volume in a graphic-novel trilogy by Faith Erin Hicks, author Friends with Boys and other comics. It's about two teens finding their place in an ancient metropolis. The level of violence is low, but the plot includes martial arts training, a riot, and an attempted assassination. No swearing, sex, or substance use. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKjbartolotta August 4, 2016

Fast-paced and fun with lots to talk about.

As well as a great artist and storyteller Hick excels as a worldbulder, creating a setting that is deep and nuanced in its depiction of interacting cultures. T... Continue reading
Adult Written byOliviaReviewsIt June 12, 2016

Looking Forward to the Sequel

If you enjoy classic martial arts fights and the unique art style of Faith Erin Hicks, 'The Nameless City' is worth checking out. It's reminiscen... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTangerineFantic February 22, 2021

One of the best books out there!

The Nameless City is an AMAZING book. I do not know how many times I've read it, but I would recommend this book to anyone who likes graphic novels. There... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written by555king September 4, 2020


Not only does it have a thrilling story line, but it also has the analogies to what African-Americans must go through, such as Rat nearly being shot with a arro... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set in an alternate version of ancient Asia, The Nameless City focuses on two teens -- Kaidu and Rat -- who each love the city but for different reasons. Kai is a warrior in training and the son of a general, learning the arts that will help him protect the city once he's grown. Rat is a child of the streets, an orphan who resents the Dao, the people who conquered her hometown. Together, they work to foil a crime that could destroy the tentative peace that holds the Nameless City together.

Is it any good?

Bursting with kinetic energy, this adventure follows two very different characters as they race through the streets and across the rooftops of an ancient metropolis. Kai and Rat perfectly complement each other: he dreamy and tentative in his actions, she uncompromising in her beliefs and ready to tackle any challenge. Author-illustrator Faith Erin Hicks puts them through their paces with vivid action, expressive drawing, and punchy dialogue.

This volume offers a bit of resolution, but there's clearly a lot more to this tale than its creator is ready to reveal. Readers will want the next installment as soon as possible.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why comics and graphic novels are so popular. What kinds of stories does the medium tell well?

  • Why does Rat feel such contempt for the Dao, the latest people to have conquered the city? How can people learn to eliminate their prejudices?

  • Why is the act of running so important to Kai and Rat? Can physical activity be about more than just exercise?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels

Themes & Topics

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