Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Release Date: October 9th, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Blurb: Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.
Review: I don’t even know where to start with this review. Here I am, days later, and I am still so conflicted about this book. In theory, I loved it. Mystic City had every element of a book I should love: magic, romance, drama, intrigue, suspense, etc. And yet I found that it fell sort of flat in its execution. Not completely, but enough that it hindered my enjoyment of the story.
The most important part of this book was the setting. Hands down. Without that, this book wouldn’t work. This was a futuristic NYC with technology that ran completely on mystic energy. Electricity was never mentioned but I am assuming they don’t use it anymore. There were two areas of NYC: The Depths, which was a lot like a futuristic Venice, complete with flooded canals and gondolas; and, The Aeries, which was where all the rich people and government officials lived. They lived up at the tops of skyscrapers with bridges and roads and futuristic mystic-powered trains connecting them. I kinda loved the world building. It reminded me of a cross between Zanarkand from Final Fantasy X and Stark from the computer game The Longest Journey and Dreamfall. Incidentally, if you haven’t played any of those games, you are truly missing out.
But here’s the thing. As much as I loved the setting, I just feel like it fell sort of flat. The writing wasn’t vivid. There was a lot of telling. I was missing sensory language and description that would have made me more able to mentally picture the setting, which I think was a huge part of why the book sort of failed for me. I hate to use that word, because I did like parts of it. But without a believable, vivid setting, I am going to complain. I am such a sucker for a great setting, and very rarely do I love books that don’t have one.
Where the book shined though was in its story. I actually really loved the story. It was suspenseful, exciting, and truly kept me turning those pages. I didn’t love the characters but I didn’t dislike them, and to a point I cared what happened to them, which was enough for me to really enjoy what was going on. Basically, the rich government that lives in The Aeries controls the city. Aria is the daughter of a powerful family that has their hands deep in the corrupt government. She is engaged and supposedly in love with the other powerful family’s son, Thomas. Problem is, she has no recollection of falling in love with him and getting engaged. They claim she overdosed on drugs and lost her memory. But right away, we know something is afoot.
She meets Hunter, a boy from The Depths and she starts to question all she has been told. And that is really where the story begins. It’s kind of got a Romeo and Juliet vibe complete with guns and organized crime. I can’t tell you much without revealing spoilers, but there is a ton of action and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I loved the magic in this book. I thought it was brilliantly rendered. But the city itself, not so much. It’s hard to explain in words.
I liked Aria. I thought she was written well. She wasn’t a favorite character and there were times when she did get on my nerves, but for the most part I found myself rooting for her. I don’t understand why she put up with some of the crap that she did, and I don’t get why she didn’t stand up for herself more, but every character is supposed to have flaws. It makes them more realistic. It’s just all about whether the reader can deal with those flaws. And in this case I could, because I respected a lot of the relationships she had with the people around her.
One thing I don’t get though? And I am not sure if this is a plot hole or what, but why didn’t she and Hunter just leave? If there are other mystic cities out there (as is mentioned more than once), why didn’t they just LEAVE? Sneak out? It was never even an option! But if you are so worried about getting killed and you truly love each other, pack up your shit AND GO! Maybe I missed something, but I never could figure that out.
Anyway, I don’t want to tell anyone not to read this book. Because most of it I really enjoyed. I’m going to read the next one. I think a lot of the problems I had might be personal ones. I have particular preferences that another reader might not have. In some cases, I feel like I am nitpicking. But somehow parts of this book did not work for me. That doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. You know that if I found a book absolutely terrible and not worth reading, I would say so. This is not one of those books. So take from that what you will.