Black City (Black City #1) by Elizabeth Richards
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-old 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.
Black City has a good premise and is creatively told. I thought the idea behind it was original, even though I thought it was going to be another vampire-ish story. I was relieved to find that it wasn’t really. While the creatures in this book (including one of the two narrators, Ash) are not vampires, they are kind of similar. The Darklings drink blood from humans, but they can live off of fake blood (“syntho-blood”) as an alternative. Furthermore, when the Darklings sink their fangs into a human, the human gets a certain high from the “haze” (venom) of the Darkling. Some humans even have an addiction to the haze — like a drug addiction, but instead of a needle or smoking or what-have-you, they need to be bitten.
Ash is a half-blood, meaning he is half human and half Darkling. He is a dealer of haze. He does it for the money. Natalie is a human and a government official’s daughter. Their love is illegal. Humans and Darklings are not allowed to have intimate relationships.
I liked both characters and thought that they were created well. They both take turns narrating the story and I’m not sure that the author was successful in giving them completely distinct voices. But, they were overall good characters. Natalie is against what the government is doing and their hate-on for the Darklings. Ash is half Darkling, but feels that he identifies more with his human side.
I still feel as though not enough was described about the Darklings or about the world built in this novel. I was left with a bunch of questions. For example, I don’t understand why Ash is allowed to live with the humans but other half-bloods aren’t. There is a moment in the book where they find another half-blood hiding out and he, for some reason, isn’t allowed to be in the city. Maybe they just have to be registered, and that is why? But, if so, it should have been explained better.
At the beginning of the story, I found myself pretty confused with everything. I was trying to figure out these creatures that seem to be very similar to vampires. But it doesn’t take long before we find out more. Gradually we learn about the Darklings and the different types (though still not as much as I thought necessary). We learn about Natalie’s mother (a government official). And we learn about the world they are in. But it is gradual, so you are left wondering for periods of time. And still left wondering about some aspects at the completion of the novel.
This book focused a lot on the romance, with other things mixed in, of course. I didn’t think it felt like too much, however, because of the other stuff going on.
One thing drove me kind of nuts during the beginning stages of the novel, when the romance was being developed and when Natalie and Ash were developing feelings for each other — forbidden feelings. There was a whole heckuva lot of “what’s gotten into me?” , “what is wrong with me?” , “I shouldn’t be thinking about him/her like this.” I found it a bit annoying just how much they had those thoughts. I mean, I get it. I get that they could get killed (or crucified) for being together, but do they really have to think that constantly? It was just a bit much.
The whole blood-mate thing came up rather quickly and it was a bit unbelievable how all of a sudden Ash came to that realization and told Natalie and then that was just that; they were blood-mates for sure! There were no doubts or questioning on either side and all of a sudden they were plotting how to be together in this world where it’s illegal to be together. It just all happened so fast and I didn’t find it believable. Other than that moment, I did find the romance believable.
A Peek Inside
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