I love going into a book with no expectations. I think that’s when you can truly objectively assess whether a book is good or not. For Mystic City, I went into it blind. I didn’t read what it’s about or browse through the reviews on Goodreads. I just picked up my Kindle and tapped. So with no idea what to expect, I was immediately drawn into Aria’s world, a futuristic, magical and dystopian Manhattan. Mystic City blends many genres into one enthralling and intriguing story.
Mystic City follows Aria Rose, the daughter of the prominent Rose family. One day, she wakes up and finds out that she overdosed on a mystic drug, called Stic, which resulted in memory loss. She can’t remember what happened to her in the past few months or what led her to OD on Stic. She’s surprised when her family tells her she’s engaged to Thomas, a member of the Foster family who had been longtime enemies and political rivals of the Roses. They tell her that she had been sneaking out with Thomas for months and that she’s madly in love with him. In addition to that, she learns that the Fosters and Roses decided to come to a truce and work together to keep control over the mystics, a population of individuals with magical energy and powers. The mystics are treated terribly and drained of their powers in order to supply the city with energy. The Fosters and Roses use Aria and Thomas’ relationship to help unite the divided city population against the mystics. All of these recent developments feel surreal to Aria, and she can’t shake this feeling that something is wrong about all this.
I kind of have a love/hate relationship with prologues. In many cases, they fail to get me interested in the story. It’s usually not until the first or second chapter where I start to care. But for Mystic City, that prologue totally caught my attention. It’s frantic, romantic and violent. It makes an impression. As I began to read Aria’s story, I kept thinking of how that opener will work into her story. It propelled me to read more and absorb every tidbit of intriguing information that came my (or really, Aria’s) way.
On top of that, author Theo Lawrence created quite a fascinating dystopian world. I loved the urban setting and incorporation of magic; it totally sets it apart from other dystopian novels I’ve read. Because of global warming, parts of Manhattan became submerged, causing those parts to be pretty unlivable. So of course, that’s where they make the mystics live. Aria and the other rich and prominent figures live outside of it. It’s apparent that the humans fear the mystics and try to overly exert power over them. Mystics each have their own power. All of them have healing powers, but each has a particular ability that is stronger than the rest. The rules regarding the mystics’ power is a bit ambiguous. I wasn’t too bothered by that because with the pacing of story, there would be no time to fully explain the mystics and their powers. Aria finds out what she knows from Hunter, a handsome and mysterious rebel mystic (a rebel because he hides from the government to avoid being drained) and another unexpected source. I’m hoping the rules get cemented and clearly explained in a sequel.
Another interesting thing was that while the star-crossed romance is the root of the story, the politics, espionage rebellion, and deception were just as much as motivating factors to continue reading. I love romance, and most of the books I read have romance in them. For the most, it’s usually the romantic aspect of the novel that makes me want to keep reading. I liked how Mystic City wasn’t just dedicated to the romance, but everything in the world Aria and Hunter live in. On an opposite note, I was a bit surprised by how violent the book was. The violence is not gratuitous or anything. But it can be quite startling at times.
Mystic City is definitely a book to check out, especially if you love dystopia and romance. (It also has a Blade Runner-esque vibe to it.) I’m so glad that I randomly picked Mystic City off my NetGalley to-read list. It ended up being exactly what I wanted: an engaging, fast-paced, romantic and fascinating read. I can’t wait for the sequel!
Rating: 8/10 ★★★★★★★★
Mystic City hits stores on Tuesday, October 9th. You can pre-order the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon!
- Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 9, 2012)
- Length: 416 pages
- Series: Mystic City #1
- Source: NetGalley
- Genre: Fiction, YA, Romance, Dystopia, Magic, Espionage
- Completed: September 2012