Monday, 12 August 2013

Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Title: Black City
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Publisher: Speak (Penguin Group)
Release Date: 13th November 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5

Description: 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.

Black City by Elizabeth Richards was a fine read but when I think about what to rate this book, I’m a bit perplexed. Black City is a mix of genres, combining elements of fantasy, paranormal and dystopia. It is a story of vampires and humans who live in an oppressive dystopian society, fighting for better circumstances. While I enjoyed most of the aspects of this story, there were certain things that I did not take a liking to.

Black City is set in a society that has various types of vampires called Darkling. The Darkling are feared, hunted and oppressed by the ruling government of the Sentry. They are kept separate from humans by a wall.  Ash is a half-blood Darkling, who lives among humans. He has to deal with the stigma of being a Darkling in a nation that that been taught to hate and fear them. He then meets Natalie, a member of the Sentry and these two find themselves falling in love, despite all the rules and consequences. Black city is more a star-crossed love story than it is about the dystopian society.

Black City is told from the dual point of views of Natalie and Ash. The book jumps straight into the action and immediately introduces us to the characters and the type of world they live in. Richards’s writing is effortless and flows smoothly making it very easy to immerse oneself into the story. The narrative moves along at a good pace and sets up an ending that is fiery. The events towards the end of the book are some of my favourites. Richards’s does not shy away from the darker aspects of this society such as drug use, crucifixion, segregation and concentration camps, giving this world more credibility. I liked how all the drug use present in this society tied into the overall story. However I would have liked to have more about how vampires came into this world, the war that was mentioned and how the United Sentry States came into being. There were a few gaps that need to be filled in and more background information would have been a plus. I also loved the setting of these books: A city that was still slowly burning and blackened due to the war. This is one of those books in which the title is related to the story. The setting was very haunting and fit with the tone of the book.

The book’s main focus is on the romance between Natalie and Ash and was the biggest problem for me. The romance was very rushed and dare I say very insta-love. Natalie and Ash meet and instantly fall in love in a matter of 2-3 weeks. Their instant connection is explained in relation to the dystopian society but they seem to fall in love instantaneously despite having apprehensions about each other. They take a lot of risks together that don’t seem to be justifiable for the time they have spent together. I would have liked to have seen more of a connection between them. There is also a very slight love triangle present, albeit a very unconventional one, with two girls and a boy. Although the love triangle is resolved and not really an issue, it just seemed as through Ash was a bit fickle. Ash was portrayed as the stereotypical bad boy. He deals drugs, gets into fights, hates authority and is a tad bit rude. Natalie was a character that I enjoyed a bit more. She was the rebellious daughter who stood up for what she believed in and tried to help those around her any way she good. 

Overall, Black city has an interesting premise and it will be interesting to see what happens in its sequel Phoenix.

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