November 27, 2012

Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Series: Black City 1
Format: Hardcover
Get a sampler here
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

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.
Should really be 3.5
It's been a while since I read YA and I have to say BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards is a good warm-up for the binge I'm planning to do this weekend. I've seen ERichard's novel floating around the blogosphere for quite some time now and aside from the super pretty cover, YA lovers are giving it all kinds of praises. 

Sixty percent in to the book and I was so sure I'll give it a three at best, the world building, characters, romantic relationships and politics isn't something I haven't read before. I even mentioned that BLACK CITY feels like Mystic City's (Theo Lawrence)  cousin because of their similar framework with both books being paranormal Dystopia with a tyrant suppressing the minority causing turmoil and unrest amongst the people. So you have martial law, sympathizers, collaborators, horrendous scientific experiments, medieval punishments and a pair of teenagers who fell in love and are destined to change the world as they know it. Very predictable right?
I turn away, horrified at my body's reaction to him. It's sick and irrational. He's a Darkling, a predator that would gladly rip my throat out, given the slightest provocation. - Natalie
Not quite. Though I still would like to read a more probable explanation for the Darklings and their origin, the mythology behind their race is fantastical. The plot is very direct with sugar coated gore to make it YA friendly (dissenters are burned and crucified!), the dialogue engaging, the characters steadfast, NO LOVE TRIANGLES or any geometric shapes and the conflicts are mobilized by layer upon layers of intrigue and plotting. ERichard's teens are angsty, rebellious, idealistic and ambitious, no goody-goody kids here. She even added drug addiction and promiscuity for good measure but she had the sense to veil and desensitize it but it's still there if one looks closely. 
Our hearts flutter in unison, and I focus on their comforting beat...I know he's dead. His heart's stopped beating inside me.
Ash Fisher and Natalie Buchanan are likable characters. Their bickering and eventual romance felt normal and is far from insta-love although I must admit I wish ERichards gave us a better explanation on how a simple physical connection jump-started Ash's otherwise dead heart aside from "destiny" and the pull of a twin blood. Ash's story in particular made me sad with her mom being infected by Wrath, which causes necrosis to Darklings, and Ash's pain in seeing his mom wither away slowly is heartbreaking. Their last farewell was quite moving. Overall, these two didn't play us with their love-hate-passive-aggressive shenanigan's we frequently get from indecisive teens. These two knew what they want and they moved heaven and earth to get it.

BLACK CITY definitely has a shock factor with the Wrath, a formidable villain in the tyrant, Purian Rose, conspiracies and pending revelations. At the same time BLACK CITY left me with a bunch of questions and there were some explanations or details that I feel ERichards could have better expounded on. Nevertheless, I am still looking forward to reading Phoenix mainly because I want to get to know Purian Rose better, I love villains and he reminds me so much of President Snow from The Hunger Games, and maybe I'll find the answers to my questions.

Screen Gems has preemptively struck a deal to bring Elizabeth Richards' upcoming young adult fantasy series BLACK CITY to the big screen... Screen Gems says it moved quickly to complete the rights deal for the series based on the high level of anticipation for the property in the online community and other young adult circles. Screen Gems is currently searching for a screenwriter to adapt the material. - Hollywood Reporter
No big surprise here, with the success of Twilight, The Hunger Games and the upcoming Mortal Instruments and Beautiful Creatures, movie outfits are scrambling around, looking for the next big thing. In fairness, BLACK CITY can make a good movie, the setting and ERichard's imaginative creatures can make for a good visual exercise if executed right. Here's to hoping this pushes through!


  1. I have really been wanting to read this for a while now and have been a bit afraid that I am working myself up into a frenzy and setting up for disappointment. Thank you for sharing with us today :)

  2. This sounds very exciting! Nice to see a break from the YA love triangle, too, since it almost seems like a requirement in YA books nowadays.

  3. Oooh, Mystic City's cousin? o.O LOVE LOVE LOVE!! ^-^ I gotta make my way to this book soon, and I'm glad there's no insta love here. Looking forward to finding out about the Wrath, and I love that so many books are being turned into movies now! so awesome! LOL Great review Braine :D


  4. I wanted to read this but wasn't sure about it. I'm glad to see it was good. I'll have to check if they have it at my library :)

  5. I just wrote my review for this, but your review explains this book so much better. I'm not surprised w/ the movie deal either honestly. It's getting kind of tiresome but I look forward to seeing this as a movie. Hopefully they get some good actors.


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