Elizabeth Richards’ Black City received so much buzz last year. I saw numerous tweets making statements along the lines of “one of the best YA books of the year.” I listen to hype; sometimes the book lives up to it, often it doesn’t quite. Still, I try to wait awhile for the hype and excitement to settle down so I can go into a book without such high expectations. Luckily, I did that for Black City, which I picked up sometime last week. I liked Black City enough, obviously to continue reading the series with Phoenix, but how in the world did this book get so much zeal and hype?
The plot and world-building in Black City deserves positive recognition, but the romance between the two lead characters, a vampire and human girl, was pretty abysmal. Contrived, passionless and frankly boring, the romance brought down all the great parts of Black City. In Phoenix, the improvement is apparent. The romance is no longer the main driving force behind the narrative. Other major plot points and factors take the forefront. While the romantic parts are still annoying, Phoenix takes on the best parts of Black City and makes them better.
Ash and Natalie find themselves in a middle of rebellion against Purian Rose. Taking place not too long from the end of Black City, the sequel begins with an imminent and dangerous threat from Rose. Working together with the Darkling community, Humans for Unity and new and old friends, they devise a plan to try to take down Rose for good.
Lots of things are at stake in Phoenix, which makes it such an exciting read. I almost wish that the story at times would give us perspectives from other supporting characters that weren’t on the same mission as Natalie and Ash. Yet, between those two, the plot moves fast and some twists make our way. I enjoyed how the plot unfolded, especially the ending. The ending holds a ton of promise for the next Black City novel. It seems from this point on, it can only get better.
As mentioned, the romance isn’t always at the forefront, like it seemed in the first book. It has a major presence though. As a fan of romance, it really bothers me that Natalie and Ash hardly have any chemistry. Their dialogue is cliché, their relationship problems are melodramatic, and I just don’t feel anything real between them. In fact, I felt more of connection between Natalie and a new-ish character than between her and Ash. Their love was the main catalyst for almost all of the events that have happened so far. It’s disappointing that it’s the weakest part of the story.
Romance aside, Richards has really developed a unique and interesting world and story. For that reason alone, it’s worth reading, especially since the series seems to get progressively better as you read it. Bring on the next book!
Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards will be available wherever books are sold on June 4, 2013. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons (June 4, 2013)
Length: 368 pages (Hardcover)
Series: A Black City Novel – Book 2 of 3
Source: ARC (Provided by publisher)
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Dystopia
Completed: May 2013