Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult | Dystopian
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed 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, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.
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. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within (goodreads).
This Savage Song explores great complex characters but doesn't end with the bang that I was expecting.
Plot: This Savage Song is a character-driven read rather than plot-driven. I really enjoyed that it was told from two alternating perspectives - each side told that the other is a monster. Schwab wowed me again by asking the bigger questions of "what makes a person human" and what a "monster" truly is. It is told from four parts/verses, but in my mind, the book fell into two parts: Before the Confrontation and After the Confrontation. As a reader, I preferred the first half because it focused more on Kate and August as they waded through the world and tried to find their place in it. The second half is more action packed, but everything wrapped up far too easily for me. For such a buildup, I was disappointed by how little conflict there actually was.
According to GoodReads, there is a second book in the works, but I don't quite know what it could be about. Besides one small part, This Savage Song wrapped up really nicely, so I can only imagine that this second book will be a companion instead of a direct sequel.
Characters: Like I said, This Savage Song is very character-driven, which is my jam. I loved how neither character was good or bad, but trying to make sense of a world that condemned the other. I found Kate and August's relationship to be sweet because they learned from each other. There isn't a romance between the two, but their friendship was more important than any proclamations of love. I wanted to know more about the secondary characters because they had such an impact on forming Kate and August's current world. I felt that Schwab missed out on an opportunity to flesh them out more and make her world three-dimensional by exploring their history.
Worldbuilding: The synopsis compares this world to Gotham, but I didn't see it. The cities are divided into North City and South City and the two couldn't be any more different. One is a giant fortress to protect the people from the things that go bump in the night while the other is a fake utopia, used to trick people into a fake sense of security. I found that intriguing and would love to learn more about the other communities in the country and how they deal with their own monsters.
Short N Sweet: Fans of Victoria Schwab will surely love This Savage Song, but I expected her to go a bit farther than she did.