Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

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.

Title: Mystic City
Author: Theo Lawrence
Published: October 9th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers Links: Goodreads
Received: Bought at Chapters
Rating: 4 of 5

My Thoughts: Highly imaginative look at dystopian Manhattan, with sci-fi elements and plot twists that will have your head spinning. Oh and there’s a romance, which honestly makes everything about this book more awesome.

Aria Rose is like those girls from Gossip girl who get attacked by the paparazzi because they’re Upper East Siders. Hunter is like a downworlder crossed with a kid from Brooklyn, where everyone and everything is dirty. But in this book nothing is as it seems and when Aria wakes up from an OD on Stic she’s told she’s in love with Thomas Foster, the Rose’s arch nemesis.

There are some definitely Romeo and Juliet themes in here, the struggle between the Fosters and the Roses, two of the richest families in Manhattan. They’ve hated each other for years, and have divided the upper class in NYC. But now the Fosters and the Roses are getting along in order to squash a new threat from the Mystics, Violet Brooks.

I like the books. I thought the political struggles were well done, and I get to feel like a grown up for figuring out all the plot twists before they happened. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing that I knew what was going to happen next at pretty much every turn of the book. Sure I had some surprises when it came to Davida and Elissa, but then being a writer myself, those twists were exactly what I would have done had I wrote the book. I guess I’ll chalk that up to being psychic.

There’s also a love story, but it’s not the over the top kind of romance. I actually found the magic a bit too over the top. It could have been done better, more subtle and with less green, like why couldn’t people be purple or yellow? Why always green? And there are some discrepancies in the back stories, it wasn’t lock tight enough for my brain to say “okay that’s believable.” but this is probably just my personal opinion.

I should probably say something about how Manhattan is now, hot as hell, most of the lower levels have been flooded, people don’t use the subway anymore, they use rail stations and PODs, and they live in the skyscrapers. The people who live in the Depths are poor, the Depths being near sea level, near the flooding. And the city is now crumbling. It’s a very interesting and well thought out world, but it had some flaws and here’s my rant on what was wrong with this world.

RANT: For music and books there is something called public domain, meaning a book or a song has been around so long that anyone can take it, put a cover on it and sell it, or they can make their own version of the song and put it on their album. I think the issue exists more in music than in books, but here it is. If a musician created a song that sounded a lot like another song, that WASN’T in the public domain range, say something only five years old instead of twenty five years old, that original musician could sue new musician for copyright infringement. (Didn’t that happen to Avril Lavigne with one of her songs?) And similarly with Mystic City, arguably Theo Lawrence could be sued for one of the scenes in this book because it’s EXACTLY like something that happened in Harry Potter. Since Delacorte left it in there, I suppose they’re not worried about being sued, but I still really wanted to put the book down and stop reading at that point because I’m like, “No, NO! You cannot copy Harry Potter, it’s just NOT RIGHT.” Alas, I kept reading and the story itself is great, but it could have done without the Harry Potter sidenote.

Overall, this book drew me in, kept me up until 1am and had me thinking. It was a good story, and I liked it. I can’t wait to see what Theo Lawrence writes in the next installment of this book!