Book: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, YA
Published: 2016, Greenwillow Books
[From Victoria Schwab on Goodreads]
It’s the story of two teens in a broken world, where violent acts breed actual monsters. Some are shadows with teeth that feed on flesh and bone. Some are corpses that feed on blood. And some can pass for human. Those feed on souls.
It’s the story of Kate Harker, the only daughter of a crime boss, and August Flynn, the son of a man trying to hold his city together. She’s a human who wants to be a monster, and he’s a monster who wishes he were human.
Sin City PLUS Romeo and Juliet MINUS romance PLUS monsters.
How great does that summary sound?! After reading + loving the Darker Shade of Magic series by Victoria Schwab, I was so excited to start This Savage Song!
The concept is so fresh: literal monsters are born of acts of human violence, and fear slowly but surely starts to consume a dystopian post-American city. You’ve got two powerful families facing off to keep the city from being overrun by these monsters (the Romeo and Juliet reference is pretty spot on in that sense), and in between it all, Kate and August navigating the differences and similarities that characterize humans and monsters.
Not only that, Schwab doesn’t even write monsters in a predictable way! Although two of the three types are vaguely reminiscent of demons and vampires, the third uses music as its chosen weapon. What?! That’s some immense creativity at work, folks.
But while the world-building didn’t disappoint (seriously, this woman’s imagination is rad), I did feel a bit let down by the plot.
Don’t get me wrong, it started out really really good. There’s action and Schwab’s fantastic sense of humour from the get-go. It took me about .00005 seconds to fall in love with Kate’s badassery, and August was quick to follow! But as much as I liked the main characters and the beginning, it seemed to slow right down after just a few chapters.
There just wasn’t enough action. The boarding school subplot felt a little too cliché to me, and it didn’t last long enough to feel like a finished thought. And then the plot didn’t feel like it picked up again until about the 200th page. After that, though, I loved it.
Watching Kate and August work through their prejudice for one another, in more ways than one, was fascinating. It really made me consider whether the monsters vs. humans conflict was more accurately a monsters = humans conflict.
So overall, I enjoyed the book, loved the characters and the themes, but the lull in the middle made me unsure it really lived up to the hype for me.
I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel, though, hoping it capitalizes on the action that started in the second half of this book. I also just love Victoria Schwab’s explanation for the titles:
“This book isn’t a solo. It’s a duet. A song played by two very different teens trying to survive a very broken world. There are moments of discord, and a few of harmony, and through it all, they have to keep the melody alive.”