Contains spoilers for Mystic City
Toxic Heart (Mystic City: Book Two)
Written by Theo Lawrence
Published in Australia August 1st 2014
Thank you to Random House Australia
A city in flames. A trust betrayed. A perfect love destroyed.
Has Aria lost Hunter, her one true love?
Ever since rebellion broke out in Mystic City, pitting the ruling elite against the magic-wielding mystics, Aria has barely seen her boyfriend. Not surprising, since Hunter is the leader of the mystic uprising, and he'll do whatever it takes to win freedom for his people, even if that means using Aria.
But Aria is no one's pawn. She believes she can bring the two warring sides together, save the city, and win back the Hunter she fell in love with.
Before she can play peacemaker, though, Aria will need to find the missing heart of a dead mystic. The heart gives untold powers to whoever possesses it, but finding it means seeking out a fierce enemy whose deepest desire is for Aria to be gone, forever.
Hunter Brooks is now leading the Mystic rebellion against the wealthy Rose and Foster families, following his family legacy. What started for a fight for equality against those who live high in the Aeries dwellings, is now taken up by the Mystics who live in the depths of a flooded New York. The Mystic power once used to build and light the city high above, is now being used to mount a campaign and hide the rebel Mystics in a war that continues to rage. Aria Rose has been disowned by her family, leaders of the city who will stop at nothing to use their daughter for political efforts and winning the battle fought within the depths. But now Aria is entrenched deep within the Rebels, where most believe she being the sole cause of the death of their comrades.
It's been weeks since Aria has seen Hunter, calling each night from a secret location while Aria is bound to the Mystic compound with only Turk to keep her company. Hunter is secretive and begins to distance himself from Aria, siting her safety as his main concern. But it seems that Aria is just another pawn in the war against her family and citizens of the Aeries, with Hunter using Aria's hatred towards her parents as the face of the brewing revolution.
Despite Hunter's reassurance to keep her safe, Aria's family will stop at nothing to find her. The war is escalating and Hunter is no longer the boy she fell in love with, he's ruthless and no longer vying for peace in the city, he wants control.
Her parents may have stolen her memories, her brother having betrayed her. Hunter, now her only family, is manipulative, distant and hungry for war. Aria has no choice. It's time to make a stand for what she believes in... Even at the risk of betraying those she's now come to depend upon.
I absolutely loved Mystic City, book one in the young adult Dystopian series, and Toxic Heart is an incredible sequel that leads to what will be an epic finale. It follows the story of Aria Rose, former socialite daughter of the Rose family who live a privileged lifestyle high in the Aeries. Now she lives in the depths with the Mystic community, citizens with power and the ability to bring New York into chaos. Since the global warming flood that plunged the city into raging torrents and a seedy underwater world, the Mystics have been drained of their power, used to build and light the wealthy Aeries. But now it's time to fight back, and Aria seeing the injustice firsthand, has endeared her to their cause.
The hero of Toxic Heart is Turk, Hunter's best friend who has been entrusted to look out of Aria in his absence. He's jovial, fun and the reader will be engaged by his own plight and emotional turmoil he endures. Turk is torn between his best friend and his blossoming friendship with Aria, and proves that he is more than willing to support Aria often when Hunter can't or refuses to. He may not be leading a revolution, but plays an important role in Aria's life and seemingly begins to feel more for Aria than their friendship suggests.
Reminiscent of the plight of Adam in Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me series, Hunter is keeping Aria at arms length. He's no longer the boy from the depths who would meet her on her balcony, but seemingly possessed by a war that even his mother had no intention of fighting. He's unreasonable and ruthless, and will stop at nothing to see that not only the Mystics are freed, but will dominate the once segregated society. Aria's loyalty will be tested and I found myself warming less to Hunter and more to Aria as she was able to stand up for the injustice, no matter the consequences.
Toxic Heart showcases how the revolution has changed the dynamics between each character, with the ending a surprise that I hadn't expected. I'm now awaiting the final in this incredible trilogy, that has now set the series up for an epic showdown.