Rating: 5 stars (if only I could give more!)
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
I always thought I would love V. E. Schwab’s books, but I never realised quite how much! It is fair to say I have definitely found a new favourite author, and I will most certainly be reading almost all of her other books as soon as I get the opportunity!
This series was a fantastic take on a dystopian future, playing on the fact that people had become so evil and did such terrible acts that these acts, in turn, created real living monsters who then went on to cause more destruction, not only because they feed on humans, be it on their blood or flesh. It was an amazing depiction of a city divided, irrelevant of the circumstances, and it felt extremely realistic in how people reacted to their situation.
I really loved the characters in this series, they were so varied and diverse in every way, but especially in their personalities and responses to each situation. I really enjoyed all of the villains, they were all quite different and had varied motives for what they did and I think it really added a big element of intrigue to the novel as a whole. They were very complex in the most part (even though there was definitely something I saw coming at the end of This Savage Song) and I do think it gave a whole other layer to the story and atmosphere of the book. *SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD* I particularly loved Sloan as a villain, he was the epitome of evil and he was so malicious and creepy and it worked absolutely wonderfully throughout. *SPOILER OVER*
I specifically loved August, the male protagonist, as he was just such an incredibly sweet character but also had so much substance to him and I found it incredibly interesting finding out more and more about him and his backstory as the book continued. I really enjoyed not just his personality but how he treated other people. Because of how their world and society had arisen there was a lot of prejudice, both from the humans and the monsters, but August held none of that animosity, and just judged people on his experience with them. Overall he was just a really loveable character, although he very occasionally did some morally questionable or bad things, but it just made him more fascinating! I also really enjoyed August’s family dynamic. It was so gorgeous and funny and just so realistic of so many families even though they had come together in completely untraditional circumstances (which is unsurprising given the situation their world is in) and overall was just a really natural family that was also really funny to read about!
I also really enjoyed Kate’s character. She was the ultimate unlikeable protagonist, but there was such a detailed and convoluted backstory that it was all explained and justified (as well as it could be) which very much redeemed her. She was such a complicated character and also absolutely, fantastically witty in a way which I enjoyed so thoroughly throughout the book. She had a very different family dynamic to August but it was great to see different family make-ups and how it influences people and their actions. I always find things like that fascinating and Schwab handled all of this excellently and made it even better than I’d expect.
The plot in this book was also fantastic! It followed a good, solid path without major, mind-bending twists and turns but still very much kept me on my toes throughout. It was the perfect level so that it was not predictable but also not so crazy that it was frustrating, confusing or unbelievable. The concept this book was based on was absolutely fascinating and the execution of the plot was just fantastic. It was exceedingly clever in every way and as a result I could not put it down (I ended up reading both books within 5 days) and I loved every second of it!
As a final point, I must comment that the writing was absolutely spectacular! I was expecting this as so many people are such huge fans of V. E. Schwab but even still I was blown away and thoroughly impressed. It wasn’t particularly lyrical but she had a way of phrasing things that was very concise and yet so impactful and effective and overall it was just thrilling to read. I have every intention of reading more of her books in the future and probably a good few before the end of the summer (whilst I have time to read series in quick succession as if this is anything to judge by I will not be able to put them down!).
So overall it is very easy to say that V. E. Schwab now has yet another loyal fan and I am sure my love for her books will only grow as I continue reading more. If you enjoy reading about dystopian futures or about monsters or just some fantastically interesting characters then I would highly highly recommend picking up this duology!
– Maddie Browse