For every book we read during the book club, we’ll write a review so that anyone who couldn’t be there can still join in with the fun! Saskia den Ouden is our YA book club reviewer, judging all the books we read.
What do you think when you hear two teenagers from rival families meet in a city that is at war and take it upon themselves to safeguard their own futures and the future of their homes? Romeo and Juliet would be a safe answer, right? But no, today we’re discussing Victoria Schwab’s novel This Savage Song, first in the Monsters of Verity series.
Although at first glance this book does sound like a modern retelling of the tragedy (it certainly has some commonalities) it’s not really. The book tells the story of Kate Harker and August Flynn. Kate returns back to the city of Verity after a long stint at several different boarding schools that she managed to get herself kicked out off. She is sent to school in the city. August is ordered on a mission to go to the same school and keep an eye on her. What she doesn’t know is that he is one of the monsters that has overrun the city. What neither of them know is the order that the Harker and Flynn families are trying so hard to maintain is crumbling around them.
This book is very refreshing. Of course dystopians are a little overplayed, but this story seems to be set in our time with a divergence in the history. According to one chapter the U.S.A dissolved and restructured into 10 different territories after the end of the Vietnam war. The feel that I got from the city as it currently stands is that it’s mostly our time, with a few differences like the existence of monsters.
The other refreshing thing is that it features no romance whatsoever. Although Kate and August are certainly very close by the end of the book (going through many extremely traumatic experiences will do that to you, monster or no) Schwab never takes the leap, which in the current dystopian trends is quite unusual.
Of course the book features the age old question, what makes a monster (in this case both literally and figuratively), which is nothing new, but is interesting to think about. Kate is so desperately trying to be a hard ass like her crime lord father, while August is trying his level best to be a normal and good person who protects the innocent. Their interactions are quite fascinating because of their insistence to stick to roles not intended for them and the ending of the book will leave you wondering what happens when you do cross the line into monsterdom.
The only real complaint I have about the novel is that I would’ve liked to see more of the world, even if it was just the former U.S.A, although a peek into the other continents would be preferred. The dissolving of such a nation would have massive global ramifications and I’m very curious about Schwab’s thoughts on that. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for book 2.