by V.E. Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Published on July 5, 2016 by Greenwillow Books
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal, Young Adult
There’s no such thing as safe.
Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.
August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.
Their city is divided.
Their city is crumbling.
Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.
But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?
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I don’t think I’ve been fair to this novel.
If you’ve ever talked to me about fantasy books, chances are I’ve mentioned Schwab’s other books, A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows from the Shades of Magic series. I absolutely adore them and when reading This Savage Song, it was hard not to compare the books because I expected the same hook-line-sinker feeling. In doing so I never gave TSS the chance to shine on its own. But when it came down to it, this book didn’t resonate with me the way the others did.
This Savage Song is a vastly different novel, set in a dystopian midwest United States where monsters are almost as prevalent as humans — and not all monsters are made of darkness. The plot circles around Kate Harker and August Flynn, two people on either sides of a territory war sitting in tentative peace. One is human, the other monster, both not everything that they seem.
When it comes to characters, Schwab is a master. I loved both Kate and August immediately, each for their own complexities. Kate embodies anyone who ever tried to please a parent, a mentor, someone they looked up to. She’s the person who pushed the past aside to keep on living. She’s the one who understands the world isn’t sunshine and butterflies. August is the part of us who doesn’t want to be a monster, for a monster doesn’t always mean someone not human. He is our control, our innocence, but also our darkness. He proves that you can come back from a horrific act.
There is so much in these characters that draws you in. And for that, I’m glad because the story is a different matter.
The beginning moved slow. I never felt that instant hook I expected, and perhaps that expectation is the reason I never felt it (talk about circular logic). It takes time for the story to build, for the world to unfold. I loved the world-building but this isn’t a book I wanted to necessarily fall into. I’ve been having issues with the dystopian genre in general so maybe it just wasn’t the right time to read this particular book. I can’t fault the craftsmanship of the world but the plot needed a bit of an energy boost early on. After a time everything picked up but I still never got that urge to finish the book without stopping, that moment when you’d feel murderous toward anyone who interrupted your reading. I liked this book but I didn’t love it.
Yet despite the lack of connection, This Savage Song is a solid novel and definitely leaves you wanting more. There are several questions left unanswered. Plus, there’s absolutely no doubt that I’ll be buying the next book when it comes out. But something about this book isn’t sitting right with me. Not in a bad way, exactly, but I finished reading it with a strong feeling that what I just read was great and that I missed something. I kept thinking back to the story looking for what might have caused the comparative lack of interest and came up with nothing.
It’s odd. I would recommend this book to fans of the author and the genre, but I can’t say it’s one of my favorites. An enjoyable read but I’m getting the sense that it’s not the kind of book I’ll remember years from now. To fans of Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, don’t go into this book expecting the same thing because it’s a different book, a different story, and a different style while still being distinctively Schwab.