Published: November 13th 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Source: ATW ARC Tours
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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.
When I began reading Black City, I was struck by one thing: the world building. I notice it when authors take time to develop their setting and the atmosphere of their books, and I'm happy that Elizabeth Richards did just that. This is not a light story - it's a tale of war, and two species divided, and it's also a story about courage. Told in dual narrative from the two main characters, Black City had a lot of elements going for it that I liked, but ultimately, I failed to connect emotionally with the story being told. I feel like Richard's debut novel has a great deal of potential!
I did love the mythos of Black City. I fell in love with the idea of the Darklings, and there were times where MY heart felt like it wasn't beating, worried over Ash. The Darklings have been hunted and persecuted for years, and Ash, as a twin blood - one parent is human, one a Darkling - is at a special risk. I can't wait to find out more about them and their culture, as well as one or two of the more secondary characters that are introduced in Ash's "family."
I thought Ash was the more interesting character of the two main ones, and I looked forward to his point of view more. I could never get invested in Natalie's character. I feel like Richards could have given Natalie more spark as a character; instead, she felt really flat to me.
Another aspect of Black City that I wasn't taken with was the love story. From the synopsis, I was expecting something epic...a star-crossed pairing that I wouldn't be able to resist. What I got was something different. There was just something MISSING for me in the Ash/Natalie coupling. They had all the conflict a couple needs to be angsty enough for my taste - everything was against them - but I couldn't connect with them.
Overall, Black City isn't a bad debut! It has a great deal of action and danger, as well as an extremely creepy villain called Puritan Rose, who I found myself shuddering over. You definitely get the sense that the stakes were high for Ash and Natalie, but I think what I'm most looking forward to is seeing where Elizabeth Richards takes this world and these characters in the sequel. My fingers are crossed for some character growth out of the main characters, and that Richards more deeply explores the world she's built!
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