In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths. Quoted from Goodreads
I sort of conflicted about this book. It had a lot of really excellent ideas, but some of them fell a little short in execution, at least for me.
Let's start with the good. First the world. Yes, it was oppressive and horrible, with very little hope, but the author let you feel that. You sort of suffocated along with the characters in this dismal world they were forced to live in, but at the end the author leaves you with hope. Yes it is a trilogy, so there is the nasty cliff hanger, sort of, but there is also a sense of hope that everything that is horrible and wrong with this society can eventually be fixed or at least set on a better path.
Second, the characters. First, I enjoyed seeing the story from both Ash and Natalie's POV. I'll admit, in the beginning, I didn't exactly love either of them, but they grew on me. Both of them were flawed (which, trust me, is a very good thing), but they change and progress with the book. They come from very different backgrounds (privileged vs. persecuted), so you get a richer vision of the world.
Third, the pacing. I really liked the way this book was set up. There was always something happening: love, then mystery, and finally government conspiracy, all while you get to learn more about the society. Fourth, the secondary characters. They were interesting, and avoided falling into stereotypes.
The biggest problem I had with this book was the romance. It starts out as insta-love, which is never a good thing in my book. Then we get an explanation, which seems to fix all that. There is a reason for their connection, and you thing everything's going to be okay. And then there's a problem. I'm trying not to give too many things away, but if you don't want any spoilers, you may want to skip the next paragraph.
Okay so here's the deal. There is a reason given for Ash and Natalie falling in love so quickly, and it works in the story. Then there is an equally compelling, if not better, reason given for him to be in love with a different girl. This is where I don't know why he chose Natalie. They didn't know each other enough for me to believe he would throw this other option away for her. I needed them to have developed more of a relationship outside their mystical connection, needed them to have more things in common or make each other laugh, something, to justify why he chose Natalie as his one, true soul mate.
So much of this book hinges on the romance. It isn't the only thing. There are plenty of other problems and mysteries to keep the reader intrigued, but the romance is one of the key factors, and it just wasn't quite there for me. It all happened too fast, and in the end, I didn't really know why they fought so hard to stay together beyond the mystical.
This book is a nice 3 stars for me. I enjoyed it. It was a fun twist on Darklings (vampires) and an interesting, albeit bleak world. I just wanted it to be a little more than it was. It's good, I just wanted it to be better.