Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it.
First Look: ***** My family took me to a Barnes and Noble the size of Cub when I was in Boston, and basically told me to go get one book of my choosing. I don't believe I've actually ever had that experience before since I spend so much time at the library. Needless to say, it was just a bit overwhelming. Decisions, decisions. But after I had finished crying over the fact that the store had three shelves of paranormal romance*, I finally found the "teen fantasy picks" shelf and picked up a copy of this. I was eager to get into it, since I love Catherine Fisher's writing. Or I loved Incarceron to death, that is. I'm the only one in my family who really doesn't find the cover creepy.
Setting: ***** The setting was honestly fascinating. It was so weird and messed-up, which made it amazingly cool. Yay for steampunkish dystopias! Because that's honestly what it was. It was undoubtedly a dystopia, and it had that gritty steampunk feel to it. Like Incarceron, but less "true" steampunk. My only problem was that I wanted more description. The setting was so cool, but I couldn't immerse myself in it because it lacked a lot of detail. Which, really, is my main issue with this entire book, but more on that later.
Characters: ***** The main protagonist, Raffi, was okay, as was Galen. Galen was actually quite interesting, as he was mentally unstable. He was pretty much a combination of Brom and Jared**. Oh yeah. Take that, Watch! Carys was the really interesting one, though. Probably because she was a traitor/double agent/that kind of person that switches sides all the time. I'm just sayin', those are always the really fascinating characters. Think Edmund, here, people**. The Sekoi just made me laugh.
Plot: ***** I wanted to love the plot. I really did. It was really interesting, but I couldn't get into it because it went waaaaay too fast. This book probably could've/should've been about six hundred pages instead of four hundred. There were so many things that could've used a deeper look, but everything was just skimmed over to keep the plot moving, which really ended up having the opposite effect that was intended. I enjoy immersing myself in a complex, huge plot. I really don't enjoy having to run to keep up with it.
Uniqueness: ***** This is a problematic rating, and I can't give it accurately. Here's why: it was amazingly unique compared to other books, but it had some similarities to Incarceron. The problem with this is that Relic Master was published in the UK in 1998, and it's just recently been published in the US, so it actually came before Incarceron. It was published in the UK with the series title Books of the Crow, and the first book was Relic Master, which honestly is cooler anyway.
Writing: ***** It was okay. I could've used sooooo many more details to make the story more engaging. Like with the plot, so many things were just skimmed over without enough detail so you could really get a sense for what was happening. That being said, I could sense a little of the poetic writing style I loved in Incarceron coming through.
Likes: During the Galen/Crow thing, my mind was screaming "Jared! Sapphique! Jared! Sapphique!" I also like the weird sci-fi communication thing at the end. The chapter/section divider pages were gorgeous! And the religious references were interesting. Barnes and Noble gave me a free bookmark with this book. How generous.
Not-so-great: Nothing that hasn't been mentioned above.
Total Score: The Dark City is a unique, awesomely strange book. The story and setting were fascinating, but the insane speed of the plot made it a tad difficult to get into. Still, I enjoyed this, and I have a feeling the next book will improve on this one. Fans of Incarceron will definitely enjoy this, as will fans of steampunk, dystopians, or fantasy. An interesting, exciting read.
*That, my friends, is just wrong. Half those books are just ripoffs of Twilight. Not to mention the fact that when the trend dies out, they're going to have a problem. I have a theory that pretty soon those will become steampunk shelves, which shall make me very happy.
**Brom, as in The Inheritance Trilogy (Cycle? What cycle?). I don't think he's gone for good, anyway. Jared, as in Incarceron. Edmund as in the Narnia books. He was always my favorite.