Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Monday, October 22, 2012 8:00 AM
Title: Mystic City 
Author: Theo Lawrence
Published: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Series: Mystic City #1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Pages: 397
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“I always knew this story would break my heart”
― Theo Lawrence, Mystic City

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. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I have been eagerly anticipating Mystic City for a long time. The premise and cover together had me very excited for its release. The world building left nothing to be desired. Manhattan is completely reimagined into a mystical world divided between the people above and the people below. The rich and famous live far above the streets in dazzling skyscrapers soaring above the ground. The Aeries remain untouched by the destruction left behind by the climate change, and the buildings are connected by bridges and lightrails. The privileged never use the PODs (points of descent) to descend below. The PODs are for the servants that live far below in the Depths. The Depths are filled with the poor and the Mystics. The Mystics are prejudiced against because they possess unnatural powers and are perceived as a threat. Every Mystic must be registered and drained twice a year, but some undrained Mystics remain in hiding, escaping the power draining. The Mystics were sort of like X-Men, as they all possess different powers and are pretty much kickass. For the most part, they can heal but they also have unique abilities such as walking through buildings or summoning storms.

Mystic City was wildly inventive in setting. Manhattan was unrecognizable in this book, and I enjoyed all of the vivid descriptions of this futuristic setting. Central Park, Times Square, and other familiar locations held only a memory of their old wonders. The Depths, the actual streets of Manhattan, had turned into canals due to global warming and flooding. Gondoliers took customers from place to place, and there was almost a dark beauty to this lost Manhattan that was reminiscent of Venice. I fell in love with this fantastical world where the rich lived far above, almost as if they lived in a city in the sky.

While I fell in love with the setting, I wasn't as thrilled with the characters. Aria was certainly likable enough, but for some reason, I felt no connection to her whatsoever. I could not understand why she was such close friends with Kiki when Kiki had few redeemable qualities. Aria seemed to be the exact opposite of Kiki, as she was less concerned with gossip and not as petty. As Aria is recovering her memories, we begin to understand that she went against her parents' wishes, but I never fully grasped the why of the matter. Why did Aria, a rich girl raised in the Aeries, suddenly disobey her parents? When and why did she start thinking differently? That was never entirely clear. And while the romance between Aria and Hunter couldn't be described as instalove necessarily (can't say why), I would have liked a little more progression.

As for the Mystics, I loved their powers and was thrilled to hear about them. But I needed a little more background concerning how they originally got their powers. Some details were given, but they weren't enough. Also, what time period is this? Some more history would have been nice.

Mystic City is an action-packed book perfect for readers who love fantasy, star-crossed lovers, and magic. But if you're someone who needs more character development, this book might not be for you. I'll definitely read Toxic Heart because I fell in love with this world, but I do hope I'll feel more connected to the characters and that I'll learn more about the Mystics.


  1. Replies
    1. You should! I want to hear how you like it.

  2. I actually am turned off by the cover - I know, I'm weird like that. But she looks so childlike in that image, and this book is marketed towards a YA audience and her character is old enough to be engaged? For some reasons things just don't add up for me.

    Perhaps the fact that this is the first novel in a series is a good thing, in that I'm sure a lot of the questions you have now will be answered eventually. The premise sounds interesting, but for some reason I just don't feel super drawn to this book. Maybe I'll change my mind eventually.

    1. I actually wasn't bothered by the cover at all. She didn't look that young to me. And it was a different time period so maybe engagement age isn't the same, especially for the rich who do what they like.


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