Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Title: Black City
Author: Elizabeth Richards
G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR (Penguin)
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Acquired Via: Debut Author Challenge ARC Tours

Black City is the young adult, debut novel of author Elizabeth Richards. It is set in the United Sentry States after a terrible war that has ended with humans and Darklings divided into separate sections of Black City and the USS. Humans have won the war, and Darklings are shut up in ghettos, where they are supposedly only separated but treated well. The story focuses on Natalie Buchanan, the daughter of the Emissary (one of nine government officials, only under the country's ruler), and Ash Fisher, the last twin-blood (half Darkling, half human) left in Black City. The story is told in chapters alternating between Ash and Natalie's first-person points of view.

The Writing of Black City really did not work for me. The characters and plot points were underdeveloped and the plot focused more on the romance going on with everyone in the book than any sort of story line. The book opens with the protagonists breaking the rules in two different ways that intersect, ending with one threatening to kill the other (not kidding). Only hormones and "electricity" take it further than that. I understand that romance novels are extremely popular (and that it is not my favorite genre), but I have read romance-driven stories that are much better executed. Christine Feehan has a similar sort of insta-love between her characters (Life Mates) in her Dark Series, but it's way more sexual than Black City (and the execution did not work for me AT ALL until later in the series).

That being said, Black City is not a book without merit. I think the interactions between the characters will appeal to teen readers because it focuses on the issues they face every day: disagreements with friends over who they are dating, fighting with parents, coming to terms with their parents being adults with their own lives who make choices that are not centered on their children, and finding their places within society and how the choices they make may affect that standing. I am older than the targeted audience, so that may be why the writing did not appeal to me. 1/5 Stars

While the Writing was not for me, the World-Weaving is what kept me with the book. Black City has an interesting paranormal creature - the Darkling - that certainly piqued my interest. (And the Bastet is pretty darn intriguing, too.) There are several species (for lack of a better term) of Darklings, and if I ever read the next book, it will be to learn about them alone. It was completely believable that humans would treat these creatures as inferior, even though they had human characteristics and could have viable offspring with them. We as a species tend to put down anyone who looks, thinks, or acts differently than we do, and there is plenty of history to back that up. Going from this, I would have liked to know more about the war (I never really understood who was fighting), and I never picked up whether this world was alternate to our own or set in our future. 3/5 Stars

The Pace and Attention Span was greatly affected by the fact that I read this book as a part of an ARC tour. I've never not finished a book from one of these, and I wasn't going to start on this one (no matter the occasional temptation). The Pace was decent enough, I suppose. There really was never a lag in the action or romance - just a lack of attachment from me. It wasn't boring or bad. It never gripped my attention either, because I either knew where it was going (I did miss one plot point) or I didn't care about the angst-fest going on with the characters. Keep in mind - just because I didn't like it does not mean that teens won't eat it up. (I think they will.) 2/5 Stars

You can say what you want about me, but the Extra Magic in this novel was the sheer fact that the Darklings kept me with Black City through its duration. Hooray for Darklings! 2/5 Stars

I didn't love the book, so I encourage you to check out these reviews from people who did:
Good Choice Reading | Step Into Fiction

You can pre-order your copy of Black City online today so you can check it out for yourself!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond
Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads as well!

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book from Debut Author Challenge ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The advance copy was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.

This book counts toward my completion of the Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren.


  1. oh no, another awesome sounding book that's let down by the writing and too much romance! Grrr that irritates me. But the Darklings sound cool, so maybe that'd swing it for me....

    Great review :-D

  2. Oh honey, I'm sorry this was so awful for you. I was more meh about it, but I agree with most of your complaints wholeheartedly. The romance was so gross and instalovey. I really wanted the other girl to break them up so that I could laugh at their pain.

    I just feel like with this, as with a lot of the other disappointing debuts - think Gravity which is up on my blog now, is that they focused more on the boring, unoriginal romance plot than on the clever elements of the plot. WHY DO THEY DO THAT?

  3. @Kat I didn't ever drift from it, so it wasn't completely awful. It just could have been SO. MUCH. MORE!

    @Christina I wanted that other girl to eat Natalie. Hell, I won't even get started on what I wanted for Natalie because of spoilers. She could have been awesome. I feel that if an author creates an AWESOME world and throws it to the side for a romance (I mean, why bother?), they should be given a colossal wedgie. It's a waste of imagination. That being said, I'm not against romance in books, but other elements should not suffer because of it.

  4. Kayla, I agree. Romance is lovely, and I certainly do get warm fuzzies from the romance all the time, but it shouldn't be the ONLY thing happening in the book, especially if the plot of the book isn't about the romance. *headdesk*


You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!