Mystic City (Mystic City #1)

Mystic City (Mystic City, #1)Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Author: Theo Lawrence
Genre: Supernatural YA/Dystopian YA
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Year of Publication: 2012

Main Character: Aria (2/5)—Aria is an otherwise likeable character who remains at the mercy of her own ignorance for the entire novel.
Secondary Characters: Aria’s “family” and “friends” are ridiculously vapid and one-dimensional. However, they create great foil characters for the Mystics, who are the only people worth anything in this book, no matter how frustratingly little we see of them.
Pacing: The pacing skipped around a lot with this one. There were parts that would drag and others that moved so quickly that skipping a sentence would leave you lost.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: Completely accurate.
Resolution: While there was nothing expressly wrong about the ending, I wasn’t satisfied with it.

The Good: The world within this book is an entirely unique (and not terribly farfetched) take on the future, complete with all the workings of a classic dystopian novel. But this time, the perspective given is of someone at the top. In another break from tradition, the group with magical powers is the group being oppressed. Though the truth remains frustratingly obvious from the start, I will give Lawrence this: by the end, he was answering questions I hadn’t known to ask. There were several surprises in the form of character loyalties that caught me off guard (in both good and bad ways). The world he created was intriguing and complex. He also addressed common issues like peer pressure or the war between following the path set for you and forging your own.

The Not So Good: By the third page, you’ve figured out the who, what, when, where, and why. The only thing missing is the how, and that gets filled in toward the end. In all honesty, I was fed up with Aria and her obliviousness by the time the story really picked up. She can clearly see that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, but can’t manage to put two and two together. I kind of took that as an insult to my intelligence by Lawrence. And I can’t believe that Aria let her family treat her so poorly. For someone with grand ideas of justice and passion for improving the world, she sure lacks that conviction in her personal life. She just wasn’t a very believable character for me.

Overall Impression: This book had good bones. The premise was interesting, the villains were perfectly evil, and the world was well thought out. Portions of it were quite enjoyable, but the inconsistency in pace and Aria’s complete paralysis in the face of her family’s betrayal transformed the book into a mockery of itself.

Would I recommend it? I’m more likely to recommend it than I am to convince someone not to read it.

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Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1)Frostblood by Elly Blake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Author: Elly Blake
Genre: YA
Publisher: Little, Brown
Year of Publication: 2017

Main Character: Ruby—4/5. She was tenacious, determined, and logical. She was willing to fight and willing to sacrifice anything she had to accomplish her mission.
Secondary Characters: The most major characters were well developed, complete with backgrounds, motives, emotions, etc. The rest of the secondary characters were just distinct enough to have personalities.
Pacing: Average
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: Not completely accurate, but close. For one, Ruby was not in hiding, but in prison. The people she was aligned with were monks, not rebels, and most of them did not support her residence in their monastery or her mission.
Resolution: It seemed a little too simple how they got there, but everything is set up for the next installment already.

The Good: I really liked Ruby. Most heroines have huge weaknesses and character flaws that make them frustrating to read about, but not this girl. Ruby had her goal in mind and was completely unwavering in her dedication to it, no matter what it cost her and no matter how many times her plan was forced to change. She wasn’t sidetracked by her love for some guy, either. Ruby’s setbacks were never due to her making a mistake. Now that’s a heroine I can applaud.

Arcus and Brother Thistle were the only other major characters. They were very useful to Ruby and likeable. They tolerated her antics with impeccable patience. The villains were portrayed in the most human way possible, meaning that they’re not great people, but their actions are understandable once you learn more about them. These antagonists are not purely malevolent, but complete with the full spectrum of emotions.

The mythology Blake created was interesting, but underutilized. I hope it becomes more central to the plotline in Fireblood. The Minax and the gods could add so much to the story if they became more involved.

The Not So Good: I had two main complaints about Frostblood: the superfluous descriptions and the simplicity of the plot. I had a hard time focusing in parts of the book because there would be way too much narrative, especially within conversations. I would forget what was being said while the author was busy describing the way something looked, and get lost when the dialogue resumed. Also, the plot in this book was somewhat simple and guided by common clichés. I saw Arcus’s big secret coming from the moment he was introduced, so that was a letdown. The secrets that Marella revealed seemed implausible and like they were just thrown in at the end for shock factor. By the end, it didn’t feel like much had happened.

On a side note, I felt like not everything was explained. There was no map to help the readers sort out where everything is. Plus, I had no idea that there was still a Fire throne! Everyone made it seem like Ruby was an endangered species, but there are probably a lot more Firebloods out there in the surrounding area.

Overall Impression: Frostblood is a novel that breathes a little life into classic YA tropes with a strong, focused heroine. With some fine tuning and more main characters, the rest of the series will hopefully gain some natural complexity.

Would I recommend it? While it wasn’t my favorite book, I think this series will be worth reading overall.

What I want to see in the next book:

1. These characters are a great foundation, but they can handle a lot more than they’ve been tasked with. I want to see them face some worthy adversaries and come into their new power.
2. More of Arcus and Ruby actually spending time together, please!
3. I don’t really trust Marella and I think she’s hiding a lot. I can’t subscribe to her words until she shows her true colors.
4. There wasn’t a lot of information given about the Minax or how it works. I would really appreciate more background on its power and how it relates to the prophecy Brother Thistle keeps talking about.
5. Let’s go find that Fire throne!
6. More characters, please. It felt like there were only really three people in the book. Ruby needs more allies than that.

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