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.
So I totally lucked out and snagged an ARC of MYSTIC CITY at Half-Price Books. My review is for the ARC since I don't know what (if any) changes might've been made. Here we go!
The Good: I absolutely can't praise Theo's writing style enough! Can we say beautiful and the perfect example of Show don't Tell and Avoid Passive Voice. The descriptions are stunning. Each scene is brilliantly set and fully fleshed out. The characters are so unique, and you can totally connect with them in a real way. I'm generally not a dystopian fan, but MYSTIC CITY isn't the typical dystopian... at least, it isn't the struggle-every-moment-for-life kind. It's more futuristic than anything. I'm not sure what genre it's classified as anyway.
The progression of our protag's life is perfectly paced. Aria grows and changes throughout the story, going from the (non-cliche) rich girl to the caring young-woman who's willing to risk her comfortable life and promising future. And not just to win the guy but to save her city. Talk about an inspiring female lead!
Our male lead, Hunter, is intriguing and by far the most mysterious part of the entire story. He proves himself to be swoon-worthy! He's not the kind of guy you love to hate or admire because he's so wholesome. But he's real and genuine. Nothing about him feels fake or forced. He's the kind of boyfriend you would've actually wanted at 17. Too bad it's not that clean-cut for Aria.
The Mediocre: As the plot moves forward, there isn't a lot of "surprise" going on. I kept thinking, "Where's the mystery? What's the twist supposed to be here?" Really, it felt more like a contemporary novel with a futuristic setting. Like we know the obvious hurdles our characters have to overcome, so where's that *gasp* moment??? The outstanding writing and interesting characters kept me reading, but there were a few places where I just skimmed because it wasn't exciting. I will say there was one epic twist at the end I didn't expect which was fabulous! I love surprises! I just wish there could've been more.
Another issue I encountered was Aria's reaction to certain people in her life. Something epic would happen, and she was just like, "Meh. Okay." And while I get Lawrence's intent to keep her low key so she wouldn't give up the ghost so early, even her internal reaction was disappointing. Still, it wasn't enough of a let-down to stop reading. Also, Aria's best-friend Kiki is kind of annoying. I wish she would've been more likable. I'm a big fan of heroic secondary characters. I feel like they should really enhance the story and bring out a lot about plot and why our lead is the way they are. If you're going to the trouble to bring them up frequently, there needs to be a reason for them. Kiki was more like that irritating person you hang out with for the sake of obligation. She and Aria were so different in ways that would cause two people not to want to spend time together. I LOVED Hunter's bromance though.
There were several parts where I just skimmed through the story because it wasn't interesting. It didn't move the plot forward and felt more like a placeholder than an integral scene. There were maybe a total of 20 pages or so that could've been entirely culled, and no one would miss them.
Conclusion: Based on the originality of the story, the lead characters, and the writing, I'd give MYSTIC CITY 5 Hats, no problem. But due to the slow plot at times, the mediocre secondary characters, and the lack of page-turning mystery, I'm going to say 4 Hats: still an awesome read and recommendation but not without a couple of flaws.