Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Title: Black City (Black City  Chronicles book 1)
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Age Group: Young Adult
Release Date: 13th November 2012
Publishers: Putnam
Available from: Amazon
The Book Depository
Source: Own Purchase 

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.


I've been dying to read Black City for months and was so excited to see it in my local bookstore I pretty much screamed when I saw it. (My inner 16 year old broke free.) I have split feelings about this book and I really enjoyed it but there were a few things that I didn't like, mainly the beginning of Ash and Natalie's relationship, I actually thought I'd missed a page and reread that part twice, but no. I felt she accepted it to easily. To me it should have been drawn out a little longer, but one minute they're talking and the next bam! she's totally into it. It didn't feel realistic. I wanted a little more angst and yearning on their part.   

The story is told from alternating points of view from Ash and Natalie. They live on opposite sides of the same world, Ash's is dark, dirty and drug fueled, while Natalie's is bright and shiny; and it helps when you're the emissary's daughter living in a mansion. Ash is the bad by who deals Haze, a drug that is produced from venom sacks that sit behind his fangs. He needs the money to support him and his father. Natalie is the good girl striving to make her mother proud. I found Natalie a little immature and hard to stomach in the beginning; I just couldn't believe how naive she was in some cases, it was like she was in a sort of bubble. She thought giving her maid/servant a gold bracelet that pretty much amounts to being the equivalent of a dog collar, was a nice thing. She does grow and come to realise the depth of deceit around her, and this when I really started to like Natalie. She pretty much grows a pair and is determined to take on whoever she has to stop what is happening. I think I liked Ash a little more because he was a little more real living in the bad side of town, a little him versus the world thing going on. Because he's a twin blood (half darkling, half human) he never feels like her belongs in either world, but does his best to be human. You can't help but feel for the boy who longs to belong. He acts tough but really has a heart of gold. 

With saying that though I really enjoyed the book on a whole. The dystopian world Richards has created is dark and gritty; a postwar city full of darklings and humans who are trying to rebuild their lives and city. Black City reminded me a lot of Berlin with a wall that separates darklings from humans, add in some serious racial tensions and segregation and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster. This culminates near the end of the book in a fight that divides the city. For me the plot was what kept me flipping pages, their romance playing a small role in the overall book. I hate comparing books, but I feel like I should say that Marie Lu has created the right balance between the dystopian world and the love story of her main characters. This is what kept Black City from reaching book coma status. It's hovering between decent read and book high. 

These two are the catalyst for change and their spirit to fight for equality and freedom from oppression is huge. This is what I love about dystopia's; it only takes one thing to change their lives and make them fight for what they believe in to make their world a better place.  

Now that you've read my muddled feelings over Black City, I really do hope you give it a try. It's dark, gritty and intense and I will definitely pick up Phoenix. I need to know where Richards takes the story line. So I think I will give it 4/5.

(I enjoyed it, honestly.)


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