Title: Black City by Elizabeth Richards
Published: November 13th, 2012 by Putnam’s Sons
Source: ARC provided for review
Format: Soft cover (ARC)
Challenge(s): Dystopia Challenge
Grade rate: B+
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.
What an awesome book! I started reading Black City a while ago and for some reason I stopped about 2/3s of the way. I want to kick myself now for taking so long to read it!
Natalie is only 16, but she’s had a difficult life. She has seen death, betrayal, loss, love and what politics and lies can do first hand. Natalie is brave, loyal, smart, and tries to do the right thing. Ash is a half-blood Darkling, is in the Black City side of the wall that divides humans from Darklings, and is the only of his kind there. Ash had a very hard and lonely life, full of loss and discrimination. Neither of the characters is perfect, far from it; and the fact that I like them and was cheering for them is a testament to the Richard’s writing.
Other characters are well developed and add a lot of depth to the story. I liked Natalie’s friend Day, Ash’s friend Beetle, Mr. Fisher. I distrusted Sigur and despised Sebastian and Ms. Buchanan. However, Puritan Rose sounds a lot like President Rose from the Hunger Games and, like him, is both vile and charismatic. I reserve my judgment about Evangeline until later.
The relationship between Ash and Natalie develops really fast, which normally is very off-putting to me, BUT I loved it in Black City. The reason is that this fact is a critical point in the plot and part of Darkling’s believes (and even anatomy); it is a beautiful concept. I’m glad that the couple felt deeply in love with one another, enough to overcome incredible opposition.
The story is told in alternating points of view, thus we get to know both Ash and Natalie quite well. I really like this format as it allows the reader (me!) to be in more than place at a time and to understand the characters better. As you can tell form my incoherent gushing, Black City has incredible characterization, not only regarding the protagonists, but also secondary characters. The writing is well paced, fluent and descriptive. The plot is a gem. I have read many vampire books and this one is unique. There are different types of Darklings (‘vampires’) that not only look different, but have their own language, culture and rituals. Richards creates a unique world, which undergoes the same struggles and problems of modern society, namely racism, discrimination, segregation and the aftermath of war. Please note that there are very mature topics in here, such as addiction, nudity, discrimination, and sex (even though is not graphic).
Black City made me cry and I’m happy with the ending (thank goodness!). I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Phoenix from Putnam (thanks!) that I plan to read very soon!
Some quotes for you:
“I love you, Ash,” she says.
“I love you too,” I say. “So begins my heart…”
“So begins our life,” she whispers back, remembering the words I told her the night we first kissed…
“Everlasting,” we say together. The Blood Vow…
“What was it like not having a heartbeat?” I say softly…
“It was hell.” He eventually says. “It was like being stuck between life and death; I could walk, talk, breathe, eat, but I never felt truly alive. I never felt part of this world.”
“And now you do?”
“Yes. Because of you.”
About the cover: The cover is breathtaking! A flower (I presume is a rose), a thing of beauty violently exploding and in the background the city.