Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

“It is dangerous, this face, this boy. And not simply because he’s a mystic, though that is danger enough. He already has a hold on  me. I’m not sure if it’s attraction or fear. Or both.”

Mystic City is a fantastic debut novel by Theo Lawrence. In Mystic City, which is actually a futuristic New York City, global warming has caused the water to rise so much that the city streets are flooded. People eventually built the skyscrapers up even higher, so that the upper class of Mystic City lives above the flooded streets and travels from building to building in a sort of air train. The city is powered by energy from Mystics (people who possess magical powers) and the city is divided into East and West, with a different family ruling each side. Mystics are forced to be drained of their energy twice a year so that they are unable to revolt and use their powers on anyone else, and they are forced to live with the rest of the poor and destitute down on the flooded streets.

Aria Rose is the daughter of the ruling family on the West side of the city. She wakes up in the hospital, not knowing what has happened to her, and is told by her parents that she overdosed on mystic drugs and has amnesia. According to her parents, Aria had been carrying on a secret romance with Thomas Foster, the son of the ruling family on the East side of the city. When Aria was taken to the hospital, Thomas apparently told Aria’s parents about their relationship and that he wants to marry her. Even though the Fosters and the Roses have never gotten along, they both agree to join their families together and allow Thomas and Aria to get married. The only problem? Aria doesn’t remember even meeting Thomas, let alone carrying on a forbidden romance with him.

Aria knows that something fishy is going on and does not just take her family and Thomas’s word that she has been in love with him for months. She decides to discover the truth and find out why exactly her family is so desperate for her to marry the son of their sworn enemy. She ventures into the depths of the city for answers and meets Hunter, a rebel mystic who seems to know more about her than he’s letting on. She begins to realize that there is more at stake than just her memories and that her choices no longer affect just her, but the whole city.

Mystic City was full of fantastic plot twists and was a huge page turner. I really like Aria and how she grew from a girl who would just follow her parents’ orders without question to a girl who would defy her parents to uncover the truth. This book definitely hit home with me because global warming is becoming a bigger threat every day, and after what just happened up here with Hurricane Sandy flooding parts of Long Island and New York City it is not hard to believe that global warming could cause flooding and put the entire island of Manhattan underwater. It is definitely a scary thought and Mystic City was an interesting and frightening take on what could become of our city if it floods (magic and mystics aside). Overall this was a great debut for Lawrence and an interesting start to what promises to be a fantastic series.

Mystic City was released on October 9, 2012 and is the first of a series. The sequel, Renegade Heart, is due for release in 2013.

Trending Topics in YA

It seems like YA literature keeps going through different trends each year. There was the whole Twilight phenomenon and now The Hunger Games has taken the lead, but what’s next? Here are some current trends emerging in young adult books today:

ZOMBIES ARE THE NEW VAMPIRES

Now that the Twilight saga is (finally) coming to an end, vampires seem to have taken a backseat to a different type of creature: ZOMBIES!! As a huge fan of all things zombies, I am thrilled at the comeback zombies are making in pop culture today. A few years ago you almost couldn’t turn on a TV without some mention of vampires, whether it be Twilight, True Blood, or The Vampire Diaries. Today it seems like most people are over the whole vampire thing. After the release and subsequent explosive popularity of Twilight, everyone and their mother tried to hop on the vampire bandwagon and write a book/TV show/movie about vampires. This year there is a serious lack of vampire books, with two notable exceptions:  The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda and The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. When picking up both of these books to read, my first thought was that these authors are really pushing it by still trying to keep the vampire craze going. However, I have to say that with both books I was pleasantly surprised. And the reason that I enjoyed both immensely was not because I am still a sucker (no pun intended) for all things vampire, but rather because each of these novels sought to distinguish themselves from the traditional portrayal of vampires and from the supremely overdone trope of vampire meets human girl/boy and falls in love.

With the vampire trend dwindling down, there has definitely been a rise in books/TV shows/movies about zombies. I would attribute a lot of this to The Walking Dead, which has gained an insane following and put zombies back into pop culture. There has been a definite increase in YA books about zombies, a couple of examples being This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers and (still to come) The Infects by Sean Beaudoin. There has also been an increase in the number of YA zombie books being made into movies: World War Z, Warm Bodies, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth, all three of which are set to be in theaters next year. With the significant decrease in vampire books and the rising popularity of zombies, I definitely think it is safe to say that zombies are the new vampires.

RISE OF THE MERMAIDS

Mermaids are HUGE now! This year alone there have been so many YA books about mermaids:  Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, Wake by Amanda Hocking, Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown, and The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova are just a few. I can honestly say that I did not see this trend coming, but I’m glad it did! I don’t think I had ever read a book about mermaids before this year and will definitely admit to being a little skeptical about the subject at first but Of Poseidon definitely changed my opinion and left me craving MORE MERMAIDS! I look forward to seeing how this trend evolves in the future.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE WIZARDS/WITCHES GONE??

There has been a serious lack of YA books about magic lately. I don’t know if it’s just because people feel it has been overdone or if everyone is worried that they will be unable to live up to Harry Potter (which is most likely true) but for some reason there has been a big decrease in the amount of witches and wizards present in YA literature. There have been some great books about wizards/witches in the past few years–Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia for example—but 2012 hasn’t really seen anything in the way of magic. However, with the Beautiful Creatures movie being released early 2013, it is possible that magic will have a bit of a revival.

SERIES VS. STANDALONE

It seems to me that nearly every book that I pick up lately is part one of a series/saga/trilogy. It is very rare that you find a standalone YA book today and I believe there are pros and cons to both series and standalone novels. The drawback of a series is that (at least in my case) it seems like you’re always waiting for the next book to be written/released. I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up a book, not knowing that it is part one of a series, and got to the end only to see the words END OF PART ONE, TO BE CONTINUED, or something of that variation. There are times when I love this, and it is usually because the book is so good that I just want to read more about the characters and the world they live in. There are other times when I hate this, either because the book is so good that I’m angry that I have to wait months/years for the next one, or because I’m just pissed that every book has to be part of a series. I can understand why many authors are writing series instead of standalone novels–sometimes there is just so much to the story that to fit it all in one book would be ridiculous–but in some cases it seems like the author is just dragging the story out so that they can make money off of yet another book about the same thing (i.e. The Fallen series by Lauren Kate). Then again there are some series, like Michael Grant’s Gone series, that keep going on and on and just keep getting better as they do. I suppose it just really depends on how good the author is at keeping the series alive but I still wonder–can nobody write a good standalone novel anymore? The only exceptions I have found lately have been Courtney Summers and John Green. Both have written exceptionally good standalone novels that in no way seemed incomplete or left me demanding a sequel.

What do you think? Are there any other trends that you’ve noticed emerging this year? Which trends do you love and which could you do without?