Saturday, 22 July 2017

Series Review // Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

My love of Schwab's fantastical worlds is not a love I keep secret. Every book of hers I have read is conceptually unique, and it is these wondrous worlds that keep me coming back to her stories. The Monsters of Verity duology were not my favourite of her books, but they still hold a place in my heart.

This Savage Song is about two families on the brink of war, splitting a city in half whilst trying to protect their people from monsters born from bad deeds. In the middle of it all is Kate, an angry yet determined girl with a troubled past, and August, a young monster who longs to be human.

The balance between humanity and monstrosity was a really interesting theme that carried throughout the series. I'll admit that I longed for it to be darker and more complex, and this was part of the reason I didn't like This Savage Song as much the first time I read it. But what I think helped capture me the second time around was how that theme carried through the characters. 

I really connected to the protagonists in book 1, particularly August. Despite being a monster, his experiences with isolation and feeling like an outsider were so human, and really resonated with me. I also connected to Kate much more in this reread. Her desire to bottle up anything she saw in herself as 'weakness' was a really interesting thing to see explored, particularly because the act of doing so made her more human to me.

There isn't a lot of movement in This Savage Song which was not what I had initially expected. But knowing this the second time around meant that I was really able to appreciate the quieter moments and the development of Kate and August's friendship. I still wish there was a little more to the plot, but it was these characters that stuck to me.

Our Dark Duet carries on a few months after This Savage Song left off. The dynamic between Kate and August has changed, as has the balance in Verity, with new leaders and new monsters on the loose.

Truthfully, I liked it's predecessor more. I didn't like the way August changed, even though I understood it was necessary for the story. The old August does come through more in scenes with Kate, but I'm sad that we didn't get to see more of it.

The story also felt less driven than book 1, so I wasn't as invested as I could have been. I also felt a little disconnected from it, which wasn't helped by the segments told in verse. I'm not a poetry person and I couldn't really visualise those passages, making me struggle to engage with the threats the characters were facing.

There is also a tiny thing that I didn't like that I wish didn't happened, but it's very spoilery so I will hide it. You have been warned! (Spoiler start) August and Kate kissed. But I never perceived their relationship in that way. I loved that they found their humanity in their friendship, and this threw me. I can't help but feel the scene was put there to show the reader and August that he was still capable of powerful emotions. And I did want to see him have a strong emotional reaction like that. But I don't think it had to be romantic. I don't think the kiss between them made the story any more tragic or deep than it already was. If the scene was cut out, nothing would have changed for me. (Spoiler end)

Our Dark Duet was a very okay-ish read to me until the fourth and final quarter where things started to really move. And by things moving, I not only mean in terms of plot, but also in terms of tears moving down my face. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, but those final chapters did it. It reminded me of what I loved about this series in the first place, and was heartbreaking and beautiful in a way that redeemed the rest of the finale for me.

This Savage Song = 4 stars
Our Dark Duet = 3 stars

YA Fantasy

2 books

murder, blood, violence, death, panic attacks, anxiety

This Savage Song | Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon UK
Our Dark Duet | Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon UK

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