by Theo Lawrence
Expected Publication Date: October 9, 2012
by Delacorte BFYR
Source: ARC provided by Random House as part of KidLitCon 2012. Please see my FTC disclosure here.
My summary: Aria lives in a futuristic Manhattan, a city in which global warming has turned the streets into canals and sent the rich to live high above the city in the Aerie as the disenfranchised Mystics huddle in the Depths below. Aria, a privileged resident of the Aerie, has amnesia. She can't remember falling in love with Thomas, the son of her father's political rival. She can't remember his proposal. But after a chance encounter with Hunter, a Mystic, Aria begins to remember snippets of her past -- secrets that someone is hoping she never remembers.
My take: I think my favorite part of this book was the futuristic world in which it takes place. Mystic City is another of those YA hybrids: a post-apocalyptic dystopian romance with minor fantasy and sci-fi elements. If I had to pitch it as a mash-up, I'd call it Matched + Gossip Girl with hints of Romeo and Juliet and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The dystopic-fantasy elements come into play with the Mystics -- people with special powers who are forced to have their mystical energy drained every two years so it can be used to fuel the city.
I also loved the whole East Side vs. West Side political rivalry that's set up in the book. A bit of that already exists in Manhattan already and it serves to strengthen the whole Romeo and Juliet theme. Aria and Thomas are children of two different political dynasties who are now joining forces against political unrest from the lower classes. There are lots of furtive meet-ups on balconies, something I am completely in favor of!
The post-apocalyptic aspect of the book has to do with the flooding of Manhattan and the resulting devastation. A while back, I posted about the fact that, to me, the scariest post-apocalyptic stories are the ones that I could actually picture happening. New York City has a lot of low-lying areas and Manhattan is surrounded by water. Yes, I could picture the whole Manhattan-becomes-Venice scenario that's set up here.
As a heroine, Aria starts off a little bit passive. She's rich and sheltered and sort of terrorized by her father. Gradually, she comes to develop more strength of will. You might read my synopsis and think, uh-uh, love triangle. Don't worry. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that there isn't one. Aria only feels a connection to one of the guys, not both.
I'd say the only part of the book that didn't quite work for me is that the Mystics' magic is explained bit by bit and, at times, felt like a plot device that got characters out of sticky situations unscathed. But there are also some truly chilling moments -- Aria describes her father as "leader of thugs" and let's just say she was not exaggerating. By the end, there was some resolution of events, but it seemed to me that the ending of Mystic City left things open for a sequel.
Tell me in comments: how do you feel about literary hybrids?
And ... tomorrow this ARC will be part of my Hot off the Presses giveaway!