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Monday, February 4, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Title: Mystic City
Author: Theo Lawrence
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 9 2012
Publishing House: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780385741606
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


In this Manhattan, also known as Mystic City, the rich and powerful live in skyscrapers called the Aeries. The poor live far below, in the squalor of the Depths, alongside magic-wielding mystics who provide energy that keeps the city pulsing.

High in the Aeries, Aria Rose is madly in love with Thomas Foster.

Or so she's been told.

Aria wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. She doesn't remember carrying on a secret romance with Thomas, the son of her father's sworn enemy, much less falling in love with him. And now she and Thomas are engaged, pledged to a union that promises to end the bitter political rivalry between their families once and for all.

Then Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic who holds the key to her past. But as she begins to unlock the dark secrets behind her memory loss, she risks losing her one true love forever.

A sweeping epic, Mystic City is full of forbidden passion, deep betrayals, and dazzling bursts of magic.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


I confess that I was lured to this book by the pretty cover - as usual - and the interesting premise. After reading it, I can say that this book was... just okay. Disappointing, but overall okay. It reminded me of Romeo and Juliet, albeit in a different setting with magic powers and a happier - in a sense - ending.

Aria has huge gaps in her memory, she can remember nothing about Thomas, their secret romance and the cause of her memory loss. Her friends are no help, her parents frustrate her and her fiance himself is of no particular use. But then she meets Hunter and everything starts to change, secrets are unraveled and she's soon caught up in a deadly game of politics, conspiracy and rebellion with smatterings of true love thrown in to make things more complicated.

There were a few things I wasn't quite happy about with Mystic City. The world-building is one of them. I know it's set in futuristic Manhattan where the rich live up in the Aeries and the rest live in the Depths but I had a hard time picturing it. There was a lack of detail describing how the Aeries and the Depths actually looked like, and that lack of detail was why I couldn't get a clear understanding of their world. It would have been nice to know how the Aeries and the Depths are connected to get a clearer picture of the lay of the land, but otherwise the whole concept of cities in the sky was quite alluring.

I also wished that Lawrence could have had further expounded on the Mystics. I wanted to know a bit of their history and their magic. I wanted to get to know them as a people and understand the expanse of their powers. I feel like there should be so much more to the Mystics than their magic; I wanted to understand the conflict between Mystics and non-Mystics because from what I could glean from the book, the reason for their discrimination stemmed from the Mystic's magic - fear of their powers perhaps? While fear is a critical driving force, I felt like there should have been more. What I would also like to know is how the Mystics - with all their powers - managed to get oppressed by non-Mystics, it just didn't add up.

Another problem was that I wasn't drawn to the characters, they were okay although not particularly interesting. I didn't hate them but I didn't like them much either. Aria, at first, was a lost girl grappling with the loss of her memories, her pushy rich-girl friends and her supposed fiance whom she has no feelings for. As the story goes on, I expected to see Aria evolve as she started to get back little pieces of her memory but sadly, there was very minimal character development. I mean she's got to be brave to do what she did but I just couldn't feel it. When the story ended, Aria still felt like a little lost girl to me. Hunter is the one I wanted to like. I expected him to be this totally swoon-worthy boy - confident and roguish with a certain amount of swagger that turns a girl's insides to mush. There was none of that because Hunter is, despite his image being a rebel and a mystic to boot, too cheesy and sappy. The letters he and Aria wrote made me cringe - too saccharine sweet. I also wished that Lawrence had done a better job with the secondary characters. I wanted to get to know Aria's flighty and annoying friends Kiki and Bennie better, maybe get more insight on her brother but most of all I wanted to know Turk because out of all the characters, he's the one I liked best. I wouldn't mind him taking me away on his magical motorcycle.

Mystic City's plot on the other hand was fairly predictable but bearable. There were a few moments where Aria was a tad bit oblivious - didn't she know that looks could be deceiving? And then there was that one scene where her life was in danger and the thing she was worried about most was cleaning up vomit instead of trying to keep herself alive. The plot also focused on romance and the whole feud between the two political rivals gave way to Aria and Hunter's forbidden love. There were hints of a love triangle, but it didn't really go anywhere. What's surprising was the end of the story because the romance suddenly turned  from sickly sweet to gore - but I suppose that's what happens when people fight back with force. Mystic City ends with death, rebellion, the threat of civil war and two star-crossed lovers back together fighting for their city. Who knows? Maybe true love can conquer it all.

Despite the predictability, the lack of character development and some moments where the protagonist seemed to have lost every ounce of critical thinking, Mystic City was not a bad read. Will I be getting the next book? Maybe. 



  1. I loved this one Nichole and was drawn to both the world and characters. I am really hoping we get a lot more back-history in book two. Lovely review!

    1. Thank you Kimba! I'm hoping for the same too, hopefully I won't be as indifferent to Aria and Hunter in the next book.