Saturday, 20 October 2012

Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Spoilers below – I recommend reading the book first!

Huge thanks to Harriet at Random House for sending me a copy to review.

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.

This book is a brilliant cross between Romeo and Juliet and X-Men, and has more than earned the reputation it is garnering as such. Lawrence really excels at world building and plot and Aria was a great character to take us into this world. She’s strong and for the most part quite clued up and determined. Yes there were moments where I could have shaken her for not acting, but on the whole she was definitely a heroine that I could get behind and root for.

I absolutely loved the world building, the idea of these two factions marked out by their tattoos was great, but what blew me away were the mystics down in the Depths. I loved exploring this world and finding out more about the politics and power plays, it really was a fantastic setting.
I loved the mystics powers and I look forward to seeing more of them in the next book – it definitely gave it a bit of an x-men vibe which I loved. My only slight issue was that it felt like Mystics were supposed to have one power each, and that varied from person to person, but Hunter seemed to pretty much be able to do whatever the situation called for. I dislike when ‘powers’ are used to provide an easy route, so I could do with a little more clarification on the powers in the next book.

I’d also love to see more of the secondary characters, the world was such a fantastic construct and it felt like this was very much a book of self discovery for Aria, so I’m looking forward to the world expanding in the next book.
Everything rockets along at quite a pace with some staggering twists and turns, some of which I never saw coming. It’s definitely an action packed read that will keep you on your toes throughout.

My biggest problem with the book is Hunter, who was kind of a crucial element, and is the reason that the book knocked down from a four star to a three star rating for me. He never really came alive for me, there was no real spark or chemistry and it just never felt truly real. My biggest shudder moment was when Aria discovered the letters from Hunter and I didn’t find them romantic at all, they were downright creepy, and as a result I kept thinking that they couldn’t be real and they must be something that her parents had planted for her to find.
I also struggled a bit with the inconsistency between Aria’s ‘first’ meeting with Hunter as her rescuer and then his demeanour towards her when they meet again. I know that they have a prior connection, but that still does not explain the dramatic shift between these two meetings, and that really threw me.

So with the romance missing for me the book didn’t quite bowl me over like I was expecting it to. However there were so many other fantastic elements to the novel that I still loved it and will definitely be coming back to see where Lawrence takes the second book in the series.

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