Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Release Date: November 13, 2012
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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.
I was surprised by how much I loved Black City. I suspected I would like it from the beginning, but I had no idea how much. It definitely wasn't a perfect book, but I found it easy to forgive its flaws since it was so spectacular. I really liked the romance, and the post-apocalyptic world that it takes place in completely and utterly fascinated me. It's one of the most fun things I've read in a long time and honestly it was entirely enjoyable. No, it wasn't perfect. But I was able to excuse that because it was amazing nonetheless.
At first, Natalie is typical of her class. She wants nothing to do with the Darklings or the lower class, called the Workboots. She's essentially and heiress and she's tied strongly to politics by her mother, a very powerful woman, and her late father. She is disgusted by them, even, and she doesn't understand them at all. As the story goes on, however, she becomes sympathetic to their plight and realizes that she cannot possibly support something so wrong. That was a strong and important character arc, and I really like that Elizabeth had Natalie go through that rather than being sympathetic from the beginning.
Ash. How many ways can I describe Ash? He is…amazing. I mean, I adore him. I completely love him. He isn't perfect, but then, neither is anyone, so that was fine with me. He's incredibly sexy. He's also half-Darkling, which isn't something that's easy in this dystopian society. He can be harsh and cold, but he also has a soft heart buried beneath his exterior and he's not as invulnerable as he pretends to be often. He has tender feelings and Elizabeth really made sure that the reader understands that he is as much a human as anyone.
I kind of adore Ash. I actually have plans to elope with him. No lie.
Ooh, the plot. It was marvelous. Seriously.
It starts off with intrigue. Natalie catches Ash doing something he isn't supposed to, and Ash, despite his better judgement, lets her go. Perhaps this is unrealistic, but it also needed to happen, and I understand the important of that. It introduces Ash as a troubled boy who does what he needs to survive and shows that Natalie, at this point, is still who society expects her to be.
As it goes on, Ash and Natalie can't help but be drawn to each other. I'll cover the romance in a bit, so I won't mention it here. They can't seem to stay apart. Though society won't let them be together, they don't care. They'll sacrifice anything to be together. Even though sometimes this puts them in danger, it also drives the story forward.
Darklings, and the half-human-half-Darklings called twinbloods, are essentially a unique take on the overused vampires. But Elizabeth has changed it enough that it's something different. I rarely thought of the Darklings as vampires, because that isn't how they were presented. Many of the same characteristics are present, but it didn't really affect the way I thought of them. They drink blood and can be uncontrollable, and there are civilized ones too.
There's also a disease going around, as well as a tainted drug, that adds mystery to the story. Who is doing this and why? What's happening and what is the larger plan? I must say, I was honestly shocked when I found out the answers to some of these things. I never would have in a million years guessed the outcome, but it also wasn't ridiculously out of the blue.
Moreover, it was intensely emotional. There were pages near the end that had me choking out sobs, and still others that brought tears to my eyes too. There was awesome comic relief that was always in the perfect places or at least close. I loved how connected I felt to this book and how invested I became.
I seriously enjoyed this book. Really. Loved it.
Okay, so the romance. Honestly, that was probably my main problem with this book. I love Natalie and Ash together. They definitely have chemistry, and eventually I do think I see that they really love each other. But at the beginning, the romance definitely went into instalove territory. It was kind of ridiculous and had no real base. Even though I loved them together, I can't handle instalove. What I liked was that Elizabeth redeemed this. By the end of the novel, I was convinced that Ash and Natalie really had fallen in love. However, as a note to all authors in general: I realize this is YA. But even so, if your characters are having sex, then it should be obvious. It shouldn't be explicit, but I should always be able to tell whether or not they're actually sleeping together.
I really like Elizabeth's writing. Black City is told in dual first-person POV, and it alternates between Ash and Natalie. They each have distinct voices. Natalie's voice starts out naïve, and I love that you can see her growing maturity through her voice. Ash's words are harsh but when we're inside his head we can see that often he doesn't mean half the things he says, and that his heart is softer than he lest most people see. Also, her world-building is incredible. Some of the best I've ever seen. Moreover, her description absolutely comes alive. It is gorgeously vivid.
The ending was lovely and gorgeous, and yes, a little bit sad. Not everything works out ideally. There is definitely a lot of happiness. Things are going to be different now. But at the same time, the revolution really hasn't started yet. However, it is definitely something to look forward to. The ending is simultaneously beautiful and tragic, and I really loved the whole miracle aspect especially. It was dramatic and maybe a bit too convenient, but honestly, I just didn't care. I'm not saying every won't, but I just enjoyed it so much that it didn't bother me. And not everything was happy, so there was sadness.
I truly enjoyed Black City. I loved it. It was definitely a unique concept. Though it clearly drew ideas from other sources, they were transformed into something other so that the author could call it her own. And she did that fabulously. I'm actually desperate to have Phoenix like as soon as is humanly possible. Like, I physically need it. Oh, and I'd absolutely recommend this. To pretty much everyone! Yes, it has flaws, and if yoiu're not the type to overlook them then maybe this isn't for you. But I genuinely believe that most people will enjoy this for the gorgeous world and everything about it.
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