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.
|Monsters of Verity #1
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
I had been dying to read This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab after hearing from so many what a wonderful fantasy author she is. I bought the book without reading the synopsis or knowing anything about it really, while I was in Portland’s City of Books about a year ago. I just thought okay, good cover, people have said good things, I’m taking a chance! That chance lay on a bookshelf for almost an entire year before I finally picked it up for the Pages and Pause Screen podcast.
I absolutely LOVED it. I knew almost immediately this book would be a five star book. The writing was flawless and the characters were so well rounded and well written. The world-building, which can prove to be cumbersome to deal with for many, seemed seamless. Everything flowed naturally, so that any little bit of information we learned about this world, about monsters and music, came alongside the action and not in large chunks of awkward exposition that breaks rhythm.
Schwab does a fantastic job deconstructing the typical male and female roles in fantasy. Usually, we’ll see the aloof, broody male that has anger issues, and the serene, docile female that quiets the rage of the other. And then, of course, this leads to an inevitable romance, that will down the line be tested. Schwab changes everything up! She gives up the perfect gem that is Kate Harker — angry, vicious, cynical, calculating, and August Flynn — a soft boy trying to do and be good in a world that only considers him capable of being a monster, that only wants him to be a monster.
The two form an unlikely alliance considering their end goals are complete opposites — at first. Slowly, the come to know each other and then, just when you think here comes the romance, there isn’t! It ends! Do you realize how amazing this is? That, in a YA fantasy, there are two protagonists, a male and female, and they grow close and DON’T kiss kiss fall in love? I can’t remember the last time I’ve read something this compelling without romance (if you have, please do rec them to me!). It felt so good, so refreshing to have two characters meet, go through something, and then realize things are still what they are (cryptic wording simply because I don’t want to go into spoilers). Though, Schwab is fantastic at crafting their platonic relationship because if you wanted to, there’s plenty that can be construed as romantic and as hinting towards a romance. And if you don’t, then it isn’t there, taking over the spotlight of a wonderful story or being crammed down your throat.
Leaning away from the characters, the story and world is extremely interesting as well. Crimes actually have real, tangible, physical repercussions in the form of the three types of monsters: Corsai, Malchai, and Sunai. We’re told that particular acts of violence will result in their creation. At first glance, this monster system makes sense. Seems flawless, but then something happens towards the end and you realize there are cracks. This opens up what can be a great discussion on whether all acts of violence deserve to be treated the same way, whether creating one malchai by accident is just as bad as creating a malchai on purpose. There’s a reason we (in the US) have different levels of murder in the judiciary system, as well as labels that can be applied instead of murder.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab is simply one of the best YA fantasy books I have read in recent time. Set in a unique world with it’s own set of rules and norms, redefining what the other and monsters are, and putting together a pair of protagonists that fall on different ends of the spectrum in this world, yet not having them fall in a romance, are all things that set this novel apart from many others in the genre. Definitely, pick this up, find a friend, and discuss!