Mystic City has been described as X-Men meets Romeo and Juliet, a description which immediately made me sit up and eagerly wait for my copy to arrive, which I had arranged to buddy read with Faye at a DayDreamer’s Thoughts and Daphne from Winged Reviews.
Set in a world with magic, but where the mystics live in the poor Depths and have to drain their powers, Aria has trouble remembering recent events. After a Stic, mystical power used as a drug, overdose, she cannot remember her relationship with Thomas Foster. He is a member of the Foster family, her family’s biggest political rivals and enemies. She has purportedly been in a relationship with him in secret, before her overdose, and their love has bought the families together to unite for the first time.
The concept is very promising and starts well with the intrigue of Aria’s lost memory and her sudden engagement. I have to say I was a little sceptical straight away of her love for Thomas Foster though. I also loved the inclusion of magic in an unusual futuristic echo of Manhattan. I also found the concept of a sinking party, something Aria attends in the book, really compelling as the irony of cheering destruction seemed so perverse and we see this through Aria’s eyes, as she herself begin to question the practice.
However, Mystic City ultimately didn’t grab me like I thought it would. While I read to the end and it was definitely readable, I found aspects very predictable; how her relationship with Mystic rebel Hunter developed for example and a twist about Aria’s life before the Stic. Also Aria is a hard character to relate to as she appeared very selfish at times. Over the course of the novel, Lawrence does develop Aria and we see that she is aware of the injustice for mystics and the role her family play in perpetuating this so that is a good aspect. Also I thought the influence of politics on Aria and her friends, Hunter and Thomas was another great thing in the novel. The Foster family and Aria’s family joining forces at the start and the political emphasis and importance on her relationship with Thomas and its manipulation for the media was a well-done driving force for Lawrence. As Aria herself is unsure of her feelings this definitely comes across to the reader, and I think this is why I was so sceptical from the start. To be told you’re in love with someone when you can’t remember ever having a real conversation with them would be difficult though and does make a great premise for a novel.
While Aria’s arc and the politics did interest me and keep me reading, I found that the romance aspect didn’t work for me, due to its predictability (but as it’s very Romeo and Juliet inspired and I’ve studied Shakespeare a lot over the years at school and uni it may be due to the trope itself rather than this individual book). I did like the concept of the world though and wish that it had been explored in more detail in places.
Dystopian fans and those who love a forbidden romance in their YA will, I expect, enjoy a lot about Mystic City. I received a free copy for reviewing purposes from the publishers, Random House Children’ Books. Mystic City is available now. I would also urge you if this book does intrigue to look at the lovely Laura at Sister Spooky’s review as she enjoyed it a lot and wrote a great, detailed review.