This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Yound Adult, Fantasy, Crime
Page Count: 427
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.
“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”
From the moment I heard of This Savage Song, I’ve been hooked. For years, I’ve been hoping to find a refreshing take on a monster story. You and I have seen everything. But Victoria brings a new twist to fantasy and takes her spin to another level.
Kate Harker wants nothing more than to be a monster so she will gain her father’s respect and earn her rightful place by his side. August Flynn wishes to be a human, yet he’s a Sunai, who harvests souls through songs. Both live in a divided city, where violent crime breeds monsters. An opportunity arises that allows August to turn spy by watching over Kate. But when she discovers his true identity, both are thrown together and must escape after a botched assassination attempt.
Victoria’s eloquent prose captures you immediately. Victoria masterly layers in cleverly written twists into her coming-of-age story. Just to take it up a notch, she then injects music, which adds more to this complex book. But deadly political trickery plays a pivotal role. And yet you want to turn the next page and see what happens to these two teenagers.
Their lives cannot be more juxtaposed. Kate, while finally arriving in V-City, lives in grandeur and paid-for protection in the North, while her father, Callum, controls his monsters. August lives in the South side of the Seam, where he constantly hears screams and gunshots, and his father, Henry, and his men risk their lives to protect humans. I love the contrast Victoria slides in between these two characters. She reverses the gender roles in her new series. Kate, the daughter of a crime boss, prefers not to be human. She’s rather turn into a monster, like her father. And Victoria surprises me when she makes August, the son of a man who tries to keep his city together, more human than people. These sixteen-year-olds have grown up to be anything but teenagers. They have seen horrendous acts, and they’ve also committed some themselves.
I was hesitant to read a YA novel set in a school atmosphere. I prefer a YA novel that has no connection to one. However, Victoria plays with that setting in a unique way. Set in a future dystopian backdrop of the former United States, the first instalment in the Monsters of Verity series takes place more than a decade after the Phenomenon, which cleaved a city in two. Victoria opens up a corrupted and violent world, and through her captivating writing, she lets you witness the atrocities that walk the streets of V-City.
Both Kate and August stand out against this evil. These main characters connect. And why shouldn’t they since they’ve been sheltered by their parents and must live up to the expectations placed on their shoulders. Their connection is what attracts me to this story. Kate sees August as a monster, yet she also sees herself in him. They’re polar opposites, yet they experience the same struggles. Both their character developments shape this book into a fantastic YA novel. You may expect some romance in this urban fantasy, and I feel there is some inklings of it, yet Victoria doesn’t bring it to the forefront of the story.
Victoria’s reimagining of monsters also draws you in. Each monster possesses a certain power: the Sunai steal souls by drawing out a tainted soul and is the rarest out of the three, Corsai feed on flesh and bone but cannot be out in light, and Malchai are undead creatures that feed on blood. Where have these beasties been all my life?! You gain my respect when you create new creatures that keep me on my toes.
She also builds a world where violence is paramount and prevalent. Violence takes centre stage. This theme may not sit well with readers, but I think she wants it to scream at people. You cannot say our society has improved over the last few decades. The way she addresses this problem impresses me, and I hope she continues with this theme in This Dark Duet.
I couldn’t put this book down. This Savage Song is the first book of Victoria’s I’ve read, but I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel and wanting to buy the rest of her series. Call me an instant fan.