Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Black City (Black City, #1)
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Goodreads / Barnes and Noble

Genre: Dystopia, romance
Pages: 374
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
How I Got It: Library

First Line: "An air-raid siren wails in the distance, alerting Black City to lock their doors and turn out the lights."

Favorite Quote: "A second heartbeat pounding inside my chest."


This is one of those novels that seriously make me question whether or not I want to keep grading books on a scale of one to five. Most of the time I have no problem deciding how much I enjoyed something after completing it, but once in a while I'm very confused. Black City did an amazing job in leaving me perplexed on how I felt about it. I was already a bit hesitant to pick it up, because I'd seen a lot of mixed reviews but the bad ones warned me it would contain things that got under my skin. And when I finished, I could see what they meant. But there were also things that I thought were done very well. It was like the good and the bad were distributed evenly throughout. And I'm still trying to figure out what is on the cover. Is it an exploding flower or something? The city beneath it makes sense, but what is that? 

I considered not finishing this about one hundred and fifty pages in, because it was really getting on my nerves. For one thing, I did not like the main heroine, Natalie. Even though she's meant to be portrayed as brave and smart, most of the time I just felt like she was very naive and sometimes a little snobby, but more on that later. I also had a hard time adjusting to Ash, because in the beginning I was convinced he was a pretty big jerk. The two of them hate each other at first, but as soon as they realize that they're Blood Mates, everything changes, and much too fast. They went from hate to love in about five seconds, which makes it easy for me to believe that the transition was based off of physical attraction and not much else. Natalie also accepts the Blood Mate thing extremely easily with only minor reservations towards the fact that Ash is a Darkling, and it's against the law for them to be together (the word "Darkling" in Black City is code for "Vampire"). Plus it goes against pretty much everything she was raised believing.

I was mystified by some of Natalie's decisions. At one point, she becomes very angry with her new friend Day, because Day gets mad when she learns about Ash's and Natalie's relationship. Day doesn't like Ash. The reason for this is because Day believes that Ash got her boyfriend, Beetle, hooked on Haze (a drug that comes from Darkling fangs a lot of people in Black City are addicted to). I wanted to jump into the book and shake Natalie at this point for not being more understanding - of course Day wouldn't want her friend to be with the supposed drug dealer who messed up her boyfriend! Later, we learn that she was mistaken about Ash's involvement with Beetle's addiction. Still, I couldn't believe the main character was acting so stupidly. She is also very blind about the ID bracelets the government makes the Darklings wear - she gives a fancy one to her housekeeper, Martha, thinking it's a great gift, when in reality the bracelets mark the Darkling as someone's property.

I was also a bit confused about why everyone has swords. Their society obviously have phones and advanced science and were not primitive in any way. So why didn't they have guns? It didn't really make much sense. Aside from all my complaints, though, there were a lot of aspects I enjoyed. I liked the development Richards put into the build-up of the war between the Sentry and the Darklings (plus the humans that supported them). I felt really bad for the Darklings' situation out in the Barren Lands, and I wanted the segregation law lifted and the big wall separating them to come down just as much as they did. I also thought Richards did a pretty good job with the villain, Purian Rose - he was kind of one of those people who are never really there, and yet their presence is, just because he's mentioned often and really gives off that creepy vibe.

I know I just spent a lot of time ranting about the characters, but I have to admit they did redeem themselves a little towards the end. I found I didn't hate them quite as much I did before, anyway. Maybe it was easier to believe Ash and Natalie had real feelings for each other after Ash rejected Evangeline. I would tentatively recommend this to someone who likes fantasy and dystopia, but like I said, there are so many pros and cons about this that I'll definitely be pondering it for a while. Sometime in the future, I will be picking up the sequel, because I'm interested enough to want to know what happens next.

3.5 stars 

Books in this series:
1. Black City
2. Phoenix 
3. Untitled 

Other Opinions: 

Dark Faerie Tales
New Adult Addiction
That Artsy Reader Girl


  1. I had mixed feelings about this too-I liked reading it but I didn't devour it the way I usually do when I love a book. I think I settled on a 4 and plan to continue with the series when I can.

    1. I was actually kind of excited for the sequel until I read the summary - major love triangle approaching. -_-