Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review // This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This review was originally posted to No BS Book Reviews.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Published by Greenwillow Books
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Pages: 427

My Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: 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 received an Advanced Ready Copy of This Savage Song from Greenwillow Books in exchange for an honest review. //

“Monsters, monsters big and small,
They're gonna come and eat you all..."

I loved every chilling note of This Savage Song. The story is dark and monstrous, yet honest and emotional as hell. Schwab’s writing is poetic, if not musical. The formatting is clever; the story is broken into a prelude, four verses, and an elegy so that it’s actually a song. And, the world of Verity–where violent acts beget monsters and war slowly brews–is unique and well-built. But, what I really want to talk about are the characters because they are the beating heart of this eerie tale.

There’s August (my favorite), a monster with a tortured soul. He’s not human, but he looks it and he wants to be. He’s kind and caring (I honestly wanted to hug him so many times). He plays the violin. He has a serious thirst for knowledge. He could probably get away with pretending to be human if it weren’t for the fact that he was born from violence and feasts on the shadowy souls of sinners for sustenance. His character arc is about self-acceptance, about him coming to terms with his monstrous nature. And, it’s a tragically beautiful journey to witness.

“August wasn’t human.
He wasn’t made of flesh and bone, or starlight.
He was made of

Kate, a knife-wielding, fire-starting badass, is just as tortured as August and has struggles of her own. She’s haunted by vivid memories of her mother’s death, which was ruled a suicide, and fighting for her father’s love and approval. Her father, Callum Harker, oversees the monsters of V-City and offers protection from the creatures to people who live in his territory–for a price, of course. He’s a powerful, dirty businessman, and Kate is constantly striving to prove to him that she is strong enough to carry the Harker name.

Alone, Kate and August are two complex, well-developed characters who are each battling their own demons. But, put them together and the story becomes deeper, more real, 10x more emotional. (It’s important to note that there is no romance in This Savage Song. Admittedly, I was a little wary about that fact going into the story, because I love me some love. But, Kate and August work great together as friends. And, it was honestly very refreshing not having to read about teenage angst and butterflies and all that jazz.) I loved reading Kate and August’s interactions, especially at the start of the story when they first meet. Their conversations are vague–both of them keeping secrets from each other and telling half-truths–but also heavy and light-hearted at the same time. When they were together, there was tension and suspense, there were similarities and contradictions, and there were so many damn feelings. And, I loved all of it. Kate and August are one and the same, yet so inherently different. I really like how Schwab uses their relationship to examine the relationship between monster and human. Things get interesting because she consistently blurs the line between the two, making readers wonder: “What does it mean to be good? What does it mean to be evil?”

“Good and bad were weak words. Monsters didn’t care about intentions or ideals.”

The supporting characters (specifically, August and Kate’s families) are really awesome, too! This story definitely wouldn’t work without them because the family dynamics shape the main characters. The familial relationships are complicated and realistic, which I loved because all happy families are alike” and that’s just plain boring. There’s some tension between August and his brother, Leo. And, of course, there are problems between Kate and her father. What I found most interesting about the families was that, although August is the monster, he has the loving, protective family. They even have an adorable kitty named Allegro. And Kate, on the other hand, has a dead mother and a father who is human but might as well be a monster. Again, Schwab plays with that idea that “plenty of humans are monstrous, and plenty of monsters know how to play at being human.”

This Savage Song is a great read–no one writes dark and twisty tales as well as Victoria Schwab. The story is full of action and surprises, and it’s heavy on the feels. It has melody and exceptionally written characters. Overall, This Savage Song is a frightening take on our modern world.
This one gets five savagely bright stars. I recommend you read it with the lights on. ;)

“The world was made of savage music…”


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