Black City by Elizabeth Richards Review

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Title: Black City
Author: Elizabeth Richards (Twitter)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Publish Date: November 13, 2012
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 374
Source: Publisher

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.
The world has long since been broken. Natalie has lived a privileged life, in terms of the quality of life afforded most people since the wars. Ash, quite simply, has not. When Natalie's picture-perfect bubble is broken and she's forced to move with her family to Black City and endure public school and the realities of life that most people face, she's thrust headlong into a world that is completely unfamiliar. Ash, however, only knows this world, and their kinds should never, ever fall in love. But the feelings are there, the attraction is undeniable and things can only get worse from here.

I've mentioned a lot recently that I think that dystopian novels are fairly outplayed. I think that this happens for most genres, and it really just goes in cycles. Nevertheless, I was excited to read Black City and learn about this dark, bleak world in which danger, war and strife come standard. Elizabeth Richards truly succeeds in crafting a world ruled by corruption and fear and, in terms of dystopian settings, Black City ranks among the craftiest, most twisted around. Merging a powerful and tumultuous love story, an incredibly atmospheric backdrop and a clever mix of genres, Black City leads the pack.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this book was actually a bit more cross-genre than straight dystopian. Whereas so many novels rely solely on pushing a love story into a darker world, Black City embraces the complexities of racial tension and a broken society, weaving complexities in to what could have easily become a very flat story. I found Natalie to be pretty unlikable from the start, if I'm being honest. She's a brat, and she's never had to work for anything, so seeing her complain about her situation made me resent her. However, we do get to see a good bit of character growth as the novel progresses, and she did begin to grow on me. Ash was a complex character, and I found it easier to empathize with him from the start, simply because he has never been dealt the easiest hand in life. He always made the best of it though, and his internal struggles bleed onto the pages, making him extremely relatable to the reader. Their love was quite well-defined, albeit a bit rushed. I think the tension could have been played up a bit more, but I was definitely intrigued by the time-tested concept of girl and boy from opposite sides of the tracks (or, in this case, the wall). The writing is fluid, and the pace is easy, thrusting us into the Black City from the very start. I'll admit that the lack of background on the backdrop of this foreign world left me confused at first, but I began to enjoy how it was peppered throughout. One thing, however, that continues to bug me is that there seems to be a lot of extremes when we take the actions and reactions of the Darklings into context. I'm not sure it painted them, or Ash, in a very good light, and it made it hard to get invested in their plight.

All in all, I really enjoyed the concept of Black City. While there were some plot holes, and the ending left me grasping at straws, it was definitely a solid and engaging read. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal, dystopian and sci-fi stories. 

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I own this one but still have yet to read it. Sounds like the world building in this one is fantastic. I like the way you described the romance, although I always prefer a relationship that develops slowly. Great review!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

    1. Thank you, Alise! It's definitely worth the review because it surpassed my expectations in many respects :)

  2. Such a pretty cover!!! I am a fan of dystopian so I'll definitely check this one out =)

    Anyway thanks for stopping by my FFF. Have a nice weekend!!!

  3. I recall giving this 3.9 stars. I'm normal like that, lol. I agree that the romance was rushed, but it was sweet and lightnened the dark setting.

    Magnificent review, Melissa! <33

    1. I love the precise rating, Melanie haha you're definitely right though, and there were a lot of strong suits for BLACK CITY

  4. My friends have been RAVING about Black City and Phoenix but i've been pretty hesitant about picking up a copy. I agree that it does sound promising, so I might just give in to peer pressure ;)

    - Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

    1. This one was actually really good...I can't believe I waited so long to read me though, it's worth it, Ellie! :)

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! For some reason, I have a gut feeling this isn't for me, unfortunately, but I'm thrilled you loved it. It's always nice to find a solid dystopian after awhile. Great review, Melissa!

  6. I was just thinking about picking this one up, actually, as it's been sitting on my shelf for such a long time. Even though Natalie was basically a brat in the beginning, it's great to see that her character developed. Ash sounds pretty fantastic. ;) Even though the romance was a bit rushed, it does sound sweet! And the world definitely has me intrigued.

    Lovely review, Melissa! I'm even more excited to pick this one up now! <3

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  7. Hi Melissa,

    I agree with you about this being "solid and engaging read". Phoenix is great! I can't wait to see your review on the second book. Lovely review!


  8. I set this one aside after reading so many negative reviews, but you've made me curious about BC again. Sounds like an addictive story, despite the issues. I'll have to look for my ARC and give it a shot.

    Great review! :)

  9. I still feel very much on the fence about this one! I tried reading it before, but just couldn't get into it. I'm glad you ended up liking it though. Perhaps I'll give it another shot!

  10. I need to pull this one off my shelf and give it a go...I've been on the fence but I've seen a few good reviews in a row now:)


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