Black City (Black City Chronicles Series #1)

Black City (Black City Chronicles Series #1)

4.4 46
by Elizabeth Richards
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Vampires, genetics, dystopia, racism, and star-crossed romance vie for space in Richards’s overstuffed debut, first in a trilogy. In Black City, one of nine megastates in the theocratic United Sentry States, vampiric Darklings live in walled ghettos, segregated from the human population. As a “twin blood”—half Darkling, half human—16-year-old Ash Fisher is an outcast among both peoples, but is drawn to Natalie Buchanan, daughter of the Emissary who heads up Black City. Readers won’t have to try hard to spot the many parallels between the injustices of Ash and Natalie’s world and their own, including forced relocations, crucifixions, and torture, along with allusions to Nazi Germany and the use of the epithet “nipper” for Darklings. Despite initial mutual hostility between Natalie and Ash, their romance is inevitable. However, it gets buried by unwieldy pseudoscience (including plague strains, genetic superpowers, and creatures with too many or too few heartbeats), Darkling lore, religious dogma, and questionable world-building, starting with the atmospheric but inexplicable decision to build a city out of materials that smolder in perpetuity once ignited. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ayesha Pande, Ayesha Pande Literary. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
The setting takes the reader to an unfamiliar city, one that does not exist in our reality. The plot includes multiple twists and turns, creating an unpredictable ending. The main characters, who live in a rough neighborhood, portray a typical love triangle. These young people find themselves in a war torn civilization where the good guys could be the bad guys and self-destruction is on the agenda. Our young hero must decide if he should love the one who is supposed to be "his other half," or if he should go with the one who should have been his other half. This off the wall drama demonstrates how, regardless of the circumstances, teenagers make bad decisions, but in the end they can do the right thing. I applaud Elizabeth Richards for the originality of the plot and setting, but the characters felt flat and did not ring true to life. Teen drama happens, but too much can negatively affect the story. Reviewer: Julia Beiker
VOYA - Sean Rapacki
It would be easy to do a hatchet job on this book and dismiss it as a mash-up of two popular young adult genres, supernatural romance and dystopian thriller. Indeed, there is something about this story of the love between a half-vampire yearning for a heartbeat and the daughter of the ruthless ruler of the city whose totalitarian regime threatens vampire (or, as they are called here, darkling) kind, that sounds like it was inspired by a marketing department rather than a muse. Luckily, Richards is a skilled enough writer that her debut, the first book in a series, still comes across as compelling and fresh, rather than a crass attempt to cash in on literary fads. Chapters are either narrated by half-darkling Ash or human Natalie, and both characters are given depth and interesting backstories. One part of the book that does not ring true is when Ash and Natalie hook up almost immediately after watching his mother get murdered. It seems more than a little jarring to transition from a brutal death to a tender love-making scene, trivializing Ash's loss. But, it is probably not a fatal flaw that would stop a reader from picking up the next book in the series. Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Tapping into many popular tropes, Black City tells a story, in alternating narratives, of a pair of star-crossed youths from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum set against a dystopian backdrop. Ash is a twin-blood-part vampiric Darkling and part human-living on the fringe while his Darkling family is forced to live in an enclosed ghetto, segregated from the human population. Natalie is a pampered but compassionate young woman, daughter of a highly positioned government official, with whom Ash feels a baffling but undeniable connection after a random post-curfew encounter. When the two later meet at school, circumstances throw them together and their attraction, though illegal, grows. As they begin to understand each other, their heavily militarized world begins to crumble and their actions reflect a new perspective. While this exploration may enchant some readers, many secondary characters remain one-dimensional, and their actions compulsory. Strong world-building is undermined by verbosity and banal expressions ("Just because your heart doesn't beat doesn't mean you're not alive"). Overall, Black City is a lackluster addition to the oversaturated field, but insatiable fans of saccharine paranormal romances or gritty dystopian novels will devour it greedily as it provides a balanced combination of romance, action, and fantasy.—Nicole Politi, The Ocean County Library, Lavallette, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Eyes will roll. Ash is a scorned twin-blood Darkling--hybrid son of a human and a vampire--who hustles Haze, the drug that occurs naturally in Darkling venom, to the addicted human youth of Black City. Natalie is all human, daughter of Black City's newly returned Emissary, local head of the national government that just won a bitter war against the Darklings and is committed to racial purity. When they meet under a bridge after Natalie slips her security detail, Natalie's heart skips a beat. So does Ash's, which is seriously weird, because twin-bloods' hearts don't beat at all. (Full Darklings have two hearts, one of the book's many arbitrary and wholly unconvincing quirks of biology.) They meet again at school; they engage in pro forma animosity; they realize they love each other. While this narrative arc is entirely predictable, at least it is relatively short--but into the mix are thrown political upheaval, a murder mystery, a contagious wasting disease, brutality against animals, parental infidelity, steamy near-sex scenes, vivisection and public crucifixions, along with grindingly obvious parallels to Nazism and the American skinhead movement. Copious infodumps do not compensate for slipshod worldbuilding. There is as little nuance to the relationships as everything else; in addition to the ludicrous destiny that binds Natalie and Ash, friendships dissolve and come back together with all the subtlety of a preschool playground. Bloated and banal. (Paranormal romance. 14-16)
From the Publisher
"Detailed postapocalyptic world building makes Richards' series debut intriguing."--Booklist

"Provides a balanced combination of romance, action. and fantasy."--SLJ

"A Romeo and Juliet–type of relationship, yet there’s so much action, anger and angst that the plot line is just as vital as the romance aspect. Fans of urban fantasy and forbidden romance will definitely want to pick this one up."--USA Today

"Compelling and fresh."--VOYA

"A quick, lusty romance in a world gone awry."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Book

"Elizabeth Richards’ debut as a fiction author is inspiring. Her sense of drama, combined with brilliant attention to detail and the striking ability to create tension, makes the book a great read . . . The next books of the Black City series will be awaited with bated breath."--Teenreads

"This book is one that will be enjoyed on many levels from the literal plot of two very different teenagers who fall in love (think apparently doomed love as in Romeo and Juliet) to the subplot of discrimination leading to violence and chaos. 4/5 stars"--Examiner.com

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399159435
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
11/13/2012
Series:
Black City Chronicles Series, #1
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.27(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Detailed postapocalyptic world building makes Richards' series debut intriguing."—Booklist

"Provides a balanced combination of romance, action. and fantasy."—SLJ

"A Romeo and Juliet–type of relationship, yet there’s so much action, anger and angst that the plot line is just as vital as the romance aspect. Fans of urban fantasy and forbidden romance will definitely want to pick this one up."—USA Today

"Compelling and fresh."—VOYA

"A quick, lusty romance in a world gone awry."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Book

"Elizabeth Richards’ debut as a fiction author is inspiring. Her sense of drama, combined with brilliant attention to detail and the striking ability to create tension, makes the book a great read . . . The next books of the Black City series will be awaited with bated breath."—Teenreads

"This book is one that will be enjoyed on many levels from the literal plot of two very different teenagers who fall in love (think apparently doomed love as in Romeo and Juliet) to the subplot of discrimination leading to violence and chaos. 4/5 stars"—Examiner.com

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