No. No, no, no, and NO. You absolutely CANNOT leave me hanging there like that, V.
Oh my goodness. What kind of flawless epicness did I just read?
So, a little history: I remember seeing this book all around way back in mid-2016, but I just put it off, for some inexplicable reason beyond both me and the book. Then, near the beginning of this year, and after I read the glorious, glorious thing that is ADSoM, I remembered this one, and I finally decided to pick it up.
And I have to say, I am very impressed.
For starters, the concept blows my mind. Literal monsters are born after crimes are committed? And the more heinous the crime, the more savage the monster? That is simply genius. Now, the way this concept is handled, with a divided city at odds with itself, gives the world-building a solid five out of five.
Enter our characters. Kate is interesting, so interesting, because she’s the only child of a crime boss, and she aspires to be just like him, just as cruel as him. Now, I’ve seen this same idea before, but it is one of those tropes I never tire of. Kate reminded me of Kestrel Trajan, with her attempts to prove herself to her father, and this, of course, makes their interactions all the more tense and so intriguing to watch unfold. But I got the impression that Kate isn’t truly monstrous. I mean, yes, she is quick to threaten to stab and then actually stab, but it felt as she wants to this way, not how she actually is.
Unfortunatley, I truly cannot help but compare Kate to Lila of ADSoM, because this is one of those comparisions that stare you in the face and make you uncomfortable until you grudgingly acknowledge them (I deeply apologize for this creepy metaphor, but bear with me, if you please). Yes, both are fierce and stabby and have a temper, but I love the fact that Kate is NOT Lila. They are clearly different characters, and I appreciate this fact so much because I cannot tell you how annoying it is to read many books by the same author and realize that the characters are recylced. Thankfully, Schwab is not one of those authors.
But I have to say.. Kate, please forgive me, but I maaay have liked Lila better, because I, too, aspire to be a stabby adventurous pirate.
On the other side, we have August, who is a lost little monster who does not want to be one, and it is this fact that endeared him to me. That, and his little mini existential crises that he has every other hour #It’sGoingToBeAlrightMyDearSon. The idea itself of stealing souls with that violin of his, and the concept of only feeding on the guilty, is what made each of August’s chapters gripping.
But it’s only fair to compare August to ADSoM’s Kell. But come on now guys, honestly. I have made it publicly known that KELL MARESH IS MY SWEET BABY SON THAT CAN ABSOLUTELY DO NO WRONG, so that, my dear friends, is what August was going up against. Haha, yeah, August didn’t stand a chance.
But August and Kate’s platonic, I repeat, PLATONIC relationship was actually the best thing ever.
And now, you may have realized I didn’t mention the plot yet because, well, the plot is this itsy bitsy little thing that is there but..not really.
Nina, you’re about as eloquent as a potato chip, you say.
To which I respond: Why, thank you, kind friend, as potatoes are actually known for their eloquence, little did anyone know.
Okay okay, fine. Let’s try explaining this again.
The plot is character driven, and very much so. And this is why, I believe, this book may not be for everyone. You have to really and truly care for the characters and their goals to be invested in this story at all, and could this be the reason why I docked half a star? Maybe. Probably.
What other points are there to hit? Ah yes. Writing.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again and again: VE Schwab’s writing style is magical. It’s supple, and I believe this is the very reason that causes it to stand out: it can bend and adjust to the mood, the setting, the character’s thoughts. And you’re probably thinking, isn’t that what all writing does? And the answer is no. It’s what writing is supposed to be like, but this very flexibility is what distinguishes the good writing from the bad writing, and I realize this is such a picky thing, but when the author absolutely nails this down, you cannot possible ignore it.
But since perfection is like a clear and pure white sheet of paper, you cannot help but notice when a little speck of dust or charcoal lands on the perfect, but fragile, white surface. And when you notice that little blip, it irritates you like there’s no tomorrow. V’s writing in ADSoM was perfect. No complaints from me. In THIS SAVAGE SONG? It felt as she were holding back, or tired, or something. It’s as if there was dust or charcoal or what-have-you settled on the flawless surface. Could it be because of the different target audience? I really don’t know. And if it is, it shouldn’t be.
Alrighty, I think I’ll stop here. Fabulous concept, fabulous execution. Loved loved loved.