Black City (Black City, book 1)
By Elizabeth Richards
Expected publication November 13, 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
In a world where Darklings and humans live on opposite sides of the wall, two young adults are about to cross paths and be changed forever. Ash, half-blood Darkling, and Natalie, a humana and the Emissary's daughter, stumble into each other's lives one night. But when a touch sparks an unexpected reaction in them both, things get much more complicated.
I don't even have the energy to apologize for that poor synopsis right there because this book was bad, y'all. Just bad. BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD. I literally complained the entire time I was reading it but I kept on going, hoping that something awesome would happen to change my mind. I WAS WRONG. Don't be like me - just don't do it.
So, what was bad here? Well, it's probably easier to focus on what was good. Richards is clearly trying to say some interesting things about race and power and religion here, and most of that she does rather successfully, albeit a bit unoriginally. Additionally, the storyline with Evangeline was a surprising development in the story, and one I would like explored more (I'm sure it will feature in subsequent books). And here is where I run out of good things to say.
What was bad about this was how completely unoriginal it was. This felt like a terrible amalgamation of many fantasy/vampire novels - and yes, a lot of fantasy is done with tropes but this can be a good thing. It just wasn't in this case. As a matter of fact, there was one scene that I feel was almost verbatim from Harry Potter - when Natalie first starts at the school and Gregory introduces himself, telling her he'll show her around and introduce her to the right sort of people. She declares - I bet you can guess at this point - that she can figure out the right sort for herself, thank you very much. I mean, didn't that exact thing happen in Harry Potter? Or am I drinking crazy juice? This is just one of many instances where I felt the book too closely mirrored other, more successful fantasy novels. Additionally, the characters are bad. They are poorly developed and overly melodramatic. I didn't care one fig about them and it was painful to read the tragedy that they felt they were constantly facing. And, the romance - UGH. Probably one of the worst cases of insta-love I've ever seen. It just all felt convoluted and boring and I wanted it to be over.
I had not realized this was the first book of a series and so was surprised with the cliffhanger ending. Needless to say, I don't think I'll be heading back to Black City for a repeat.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy provided via NetGalley.