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. Quoted from Goodreads
As an idea, this book is utterly and completely amazing. It has mystery, forbidden love, memory loss, conspiracy, magic, intrigue, and suspense. As an idea, it totally delivered. It's half Romeo and Juliette meets The Vow set in a futuristic New York, with a few Godfather allusions, haves vs. have nots, and dystopia/sci-fi setting. What more could you want?
The setting was really fun. Basically if you have money, you live at the tops of skyscrapers and never, ever go below to "the Depths," or street level. Because of Global Warming, the ocean has risen, turning New York into a sort of sweltering Venice, burying most of the streets under water. Plus, there's magic. Instead of everything running off electricity, mystics are drained of their power and it is used to run the city. I love New York, and while this city is vastly different from New York today, the places are all still there, but oh so different, and I liked getting a new view on what could happen.
I liked Aria. I thought she was a brave and handled a bad situation well. She didn't accept her memory loss lying down, yet she didn't push things to the point of stupidity. I also really liked Hunter. On the outside he is everything she isn't, mysterious, poor, mystic, rebel, etc., yet they are cute together, and you can see why they would fall in love. They are the perfect representatives for their different classes, so it makes their romance all the sweeter because it hi-lights the distance between their respective worlds.
Now nothing would be complete without obstacles. Number 1, Aria's memory loss. Most of what she does in this book is to discover exactly what she lost. Beyond that, we have political maneuverings, mob antics, and an unequal city about to explode with political unrest. Aria has to decide which side she is on, and whether her loyalty to family can trump her own political leanings.
So what am I rating this book? Honestly, 3 to 3.5 stars. Like I said, all the ideas in this book are excellent. There is suspense, heartbreak, intrigue, wonderful setting, and swoon-worthy romance. But. Yes, there it is. But. While all the ideas in this book are amazing, some of the execution fell a little flat for me.
The villains are all one dimensional and utterly unlikable. You wouldn't think the unlikable thing would hurt the book, and I won't give too much away, but because they were so despicable, their betrayal lacked the punch it could have delivered. They never gave Aria a reason to "join the dark side" as it were, so there was no internal struggle for Aria to face. Despite the mystery, everything was a bit too black and white.
My other problem was the predictability. It was a fun ride, but the answers to all her questions were obvious long before she figured them out. There was one, small twist that came as a bit of surprise, but all the big ones? Yeah, I saw those coming from the beginning.
All in all, this book is a light, fun read. Like I said, the ideas behind it are fabulous, and the main characters are sympathetic. There are some great actions scenes, and I loved discovering the world Theo Lawrence created. I just wish a few things had been set up a little differently, the writing had been a little bit deeper, and the mystery less transparent.