Reviews for Black City
Booklist Reviews 2012 October #2
As the Sentry Emissary's daughter, human Natalie Buchanan fears and mistrusts Darklings, the blood-drinking kind who live outside the walls of the aptly named Black City. Yet when Natalie meets half-Darkling boy Ash Fisher, her heart literally pulls her toward him. Confused by the implications of this attraction and brainwashed by a lifetime of anti-Darkling indoctrination, Natalie flees--at first. For his part, Ash wants nothing to do with a spoiled Sentry brat whose very existence threatens his own tenuous way of life in a ruthless world. When Natalie starts at the same school Ash attends, they slowly acknowledge their inexplicable feelings for each other, aware that interspecies mingling is an offense punishable by excruciating death. Detailed postapocalyptic world building makes Richards' series debut intriguing; of particular interest are the many types of Darklings, from winged to catlike. Not as successful are the unpolished writing, a story line that leans heavily on breathless melodrama that ultimately flattens the plot, and an overabundance of head-spinning cliff-hangers and events. Barbarous, detailed cruelties, including torture, both human and animal, mark this as fare for older readers. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Following a war that left the population of vampire-like Darklings oppressed and ghettoized, human Natalie and half-Darkling Ash fall in love and uncover a genocidal conspiracy hatched by the purity-obsessed human government. Ash and Natalie's relationship drama seems petty next to the gritty horror of their world, but that world is vividly painted and imbued with provocative (if heavy-handed) social commentary.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #1
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) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #4
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.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October
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 [Page 149]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2012 December
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.--Sean Rapacki 3Q 4P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.