This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

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 homes at stake. 

Kate Harker and August Flynn are 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 returning home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August's secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives (from Goodreads) 

Rating:


Ticking off my book written by a female author for my 2018 challenge, this book has long been on my radar to read. I remember it receiving a lot of hype when it was released, and the same can be said for the sequel, and last of the duology, released last year. It was just not something I got round to reading, until now.

The story follows Kate Harker and August Flynn, two young people living in a world where monsters are real. They live on opposite sides of a fractured city, their fathers running their half as they see fit. Kate's father is ruthless, and rules his city through fear and money. August's father strives for something less corrupt. Their lives intertwine when August is finally sent on a mission - to infiltrate a fancy private school in Harker's side of the city, and to gain intel on Kate. Another war is looming, and the Flynns want to prevent it if they can, by any means necessary. 

What Victoria Schwab had said about this book was it was "Romeo and Juliet minus romance plus monsters", and I can see what she meant by that having read this book. There is an element of a mutual attraction, a mutual understanding of feeling out of place in the world, when the two finally meet. It could be the beginning of a romance, it could be the beginning of a meaningful friendship. The story is left open in that regard, and in a way it's refreshing. 

The story itself is a little slow for me, a little too simple. There was clearly a lot of thought put into this world, its history, its leaders and key players, and to me it felt that would have been a more interesting story to tell, rather than simply following August and Kate's journey of self-discovery. Perhaps there is more to be told in the sequel, Our Dark Duet. Perhaps now our main characters are set up to be more important in the game of politics and war, they can show us the kind of people they have grown into. 

I liked Kate as a character; she was smart and resourceful, and ruthless when she needed to be. There was a heart she tries to keep hidden under the untouchable facade of being her father's daughter. I liked August at times too, but he just seems a little bland compared to the more complex characters of his siblings. 

Compared to her adult fiction, this book was a disappointment, but that's only because her Shades of Magic series is just amazing. Such a complex, intricate story with interesting characters and a world you never want to leave. In that sense, it is an unfair comparison, I know. But to know what she can do, and then see the wasted potential of this book, it's hard not to compare. 

Overall though, I did enjoy it. Actually managed to finish it, unlike Pierce Brown's Red Rising, the book I read before this, which was actually painful. Going to get round to reading the second book, to see if what I predicted has come to pass. 


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