From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Tapping into many popular tropes, Black City tells a story, in alternating narratives, of a pair of star-crossed youths from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum set against a dystopian backdrop. Ash is a twin-blood-part vampiric Darkling and part human-living on the fringe while his Darkling family is forced to live in an enclosed ghetto, segregated from the human population. Natalie is a pampered but compassionate young woman, daughter of a highly positioned government official, with whom Ash feels a baffling but undeniable connection after a random post-curfew encounter. When the two later meet at school, circumstances throw them together and their attraction, though illegal, grows. As they begin to understand each other, their heavily militarized world begins to crumble and their actions reflect a new perspective. While this exploration may enchant some readers, many secondary characters remain one-dimensional, and their actions compulsory. Strong world-building is undermined by verbosity and banal expressions ("Just because your heart doesn't beat doesn't mean you're not alive"). Overall, Black City is a lackluster addition to the oversaturated field, but insatiable fans of saccharine paranormal romances or gritty dystopian novels will devour it greedily as it provides a balanced combination of romance, action, and fantasy.-Nicole Politi, The Ocean County Library, Lavallette, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
As the Sentry Emissary’s daughter, human Natalie Buchanan fears and mistrusts Darklings, the blood-drinking kind who live outside the walls of the aptly named Black City. Yet when Natalie meets half-Darkling boy Ash Fisher, her heart literally pulls her toward him. Confused by the implications of this attraction and brainwashed by a lifetime of anti-Darkling indoctrination, Natalie flees—at first. For his part, Ash wants nothing to do with a spoiled Sentry brat whose very existence threatens his own tenuous way of life in a ruthless world. When Natalie starts at the same school Ash attends, they slowly acknowledge their inexplicable feelings for each other, aware that interspecies mingling is an offense punishable by excruciating death. Detailed postapocalyptic world building makes Richards’ series debut intriguing; of particular interest are the many types of Darklings, from winged to catlike. Not as successful are the unpolished writing, a story line that leans heavily on breathless melodrama that ultimately flattens the plot, and an overabundance of head-spinning cliff-hangers and events. Barbarous, detailed cruelties, including torture, both human and animal, mark this as fare for older readers. Grades 9-12. --Julie Trevelyan
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