Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

From the Back Cover: 

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.

My Thoughts:

I give Mystic City big props for a unique, alternate-reality twist on the Romeo and Juliet theme. A futuristic New York City where the rich and powerful harness the magic of the oppressed Mystics for their own use, where rival mafia-like political families wage war for control of the city, where underground rebels are staging a resistance, and where Juliet can't remember her Romeo? I'm totally in. And I was, for the first 200 pages or so. I was really drawn into Lawrence's story world. This vision of a New York under water, where the wealthy live high up in the Aerie, in a network of crystal-palace skyscrapers connected by footbridges and skyrails towering over the Depths, down at water level, where the poor and the Mystics are consigned to live in muck and poverty--it was fantastically rendered in a gritty and glorious world of contrasts. And the story set-up was superb. Aria, the only daughter of one of the city's most influential politicians, wakes up one morning to discover that she can't remember the last weeks of her life. She's told that she suffered a near-fatal drug overdose and has been in a coma, and that she's newly engaged to the son of her father's worst enemy. She remembers none of this, but everyone else in her life does, and Aria struggles to fit into a life she can't remember, a life that just doesn't feel right, until a chance meeting with a gorgeous rebel named Hunter, who Aria can't help but feel like she's met before, sets Aria on the dangerous path to recovering her memories, the truths about her family, and the love of her life--dangerous because there are several people who will stop at nothing to make sure she never remembers. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, because there are a few surprises, I'll leave off with the plot there.

Mystic City had so much potential in the beginning, but it ended up falling short for me. Aside from Aria, none of the characters who surround her have any real depth. She has parents who are so coldhearted and ruthless that they're unbelievable. Her love interests also lack dimension: Hunter is super sweet and Thomas is super fake. Her relationship with Hunter is too quick and cheesy to be convincing. The bad guys are super bad, and nobody's motivations are explored enough to make most of their actions really understandable. And though I liked Aria, I couldn't believe how long it took her to put all the pieces together. And then when she finally did, there were a lot of blanks that weren't really filled in. It all ended up feeling superficial, which was doubly disappointing after such a rich build-up. This book really could have benefited from a better editor. It could have been so much better if gaping holes and inconsistencies in the plot had been filled in and corrected. Characters contradict themselves, elements are introduced and forgotten, and the breakneck pace of events leading up to the ending and the climactic moments were more over-the-top than realistic. For me, the beautifully depicted story world and the mystery and tension of the first half of the book were big pluses that kept me turning the pages, but the closer the story got to its conclusion, the more it lost its luster. But I may pick up the next book to see where things go...

My Rating:  3 Stars out of 5

**Please Note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. These are my honest and unbiased opinions, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

1 comment:

  1. While I was intrigued by the world that Lawrence created (esp. the part where "high society" gathered to watch a skyscraper fall), I was less interested in the characters. I thought Aria was a little too dense about how sketchy the things her parents were telling her were. There were too many hints and having Aria fail to recognize them with the reader made me question her intelligence. Also, I would have preferred more depth from Thomas. Though maybe this comes later. I only got halfway through!


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