This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Rating: four out of five stars
Published: July 5, 2016
Summary from Goodreads: There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from 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.
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.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song, and steal your soul.
Despite giving This Savage Song only four stars, I loved reading this book! It was fun and dark and amazing all at once. However, there were a few issues I had with it, hence the four stars.
This book is basically a dystopian fantasy and starts out with Kate Harker burning down a chapel at her Catholic boarding school then being taken back to V-City where her Father lives. Fast forward a bit, and Kate and August Flynn, a monster, Sunai to be exact, are both starting school at Colton academy. Kate because she is finally living with her father again, and August so he can spy on Kate. But Kate immediately figueres there’s something up with August after meeting only a few times, and when she does, she’s horrified. Not long after, two monsters attempted assassination Kate and tried to make it look like August. So the two of them flee the monster infested V-City.
Kate Harker is our first main character. All she really wants is to be back home with her father and to get him to like her, to be proud of her. This turns Kate into someone she’s really not, and you can tell.
She wasn’t sure why, only that for the first time in ages, sitting in that strange but comfortable silence, she felt like herself. Not the Kate who grinned at the rumors, or the one who held a knife to a girl’s throat, or drove a crowbar through a monster’s heart.
The Kate she’d been before, The version of her that made jokes instead of threats.
I loved Kate’s character, but at the same time I didn’t. I found the whole burning down the chapel thing unnecessary. Though it’s only an act, a lot of other small things she did to try and make people afraid of her bothered me as well. Kate’s mother also died six (I believe) years ago when she was trying to escape the city with Kate, who wanted nothing but to leave the monster infested place.
August wasn’t human. He wasn’t made of flesh and bone, or starlight. He was made of darkness.
Then there’s August Flynn, a Sunai. Sunai are extremely rare, and he is one of three in V-City, the other two being his brother Leo and sister Ilsa. He was taken in by Henry Flynn and his wife Emily when he had been created after Leo found him in an ally. While all Kate wants is to impress her father, all August wants is, well, to not be a monster. He wishes he was a human, and not a monster that killed people with his music.
The Sunai play music (August plays a violin, Ilsa sings, and Leo can do any sort of musical instrument) that can take the souls of people who have committed crimes or sins that have a shadow. They cannot take the lives of those who are not sinners. I wasn’t quite sure on what the other two types of monsters, Corsai and Machai, do though.
Also, can I tell you how happy I am that there wasn’t any romance? I’m really hoping Kate and August don’t end up falling for each other in the next book because I found it really refreshing to read a book with no romance. Don’t get me wrong, I do like romance, but it’s nice to read a book every once in awhile that doesn’t have any.
It’s set in V-City, the capital city of Verity, one of ten territories in the U.S. Victoria Schwab does a great job at world-building, and I had a vivid image of V-City in my head the whole time. V-City is a dystopian city full of monsters that are created by disasters. It was a very dark world. People are either paying Callum Harker, Kate’s father, for safety on one side of the city, or living in terror in Henry Flynn’s half of the city.
However, I was a bit confused on the whole world in general, not just Verity. We got bits and pieces here and there but I want to know more about the world and how it was split into territories and how that all works. I’m hoping we get this in the next book. Other than that, the world-building was incredible.
“I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.”
I also loved the writing. This is the first book by Victoria Schwab I’ve read, and now I get what all the hype is about. She does a great job with descriptions, and I could easily picture everything that was going on in my head. I’m excited to read some of her other works after reading this one.
Now onto what I didn’t like. The beginning was kind of boring, being 100% honest. The first half was mainly the two main characters encountering each other a few times at school and showing their day to day lives pretty much. It was quite slow, that’s for sure. At the same time, I also didn’t want to put this book down right from the start. I would have liked more action in the first half.
Once we reached the second half though, it was mainly just action and Kate and August running for their lives and trying to escape the other monsters. I really enjoyed all the action and fighting scenes, another thing Schwab did a great job of in this book. They were intense, and I didn’t get lost like I often do when there are too many people in one action scene. She doesn’t focus on what fifty people are doing at once, which happens way too often in books in my opinion. This made for a much easier and less confusing book to read.
I also felt like there could have been more explanations on certain things. I was a bit confused for awhile there on what certain things meant, and they were explained much later than I would have liked. This caused some confusion on some small aspects. Though everything was explained by the end, it would have been less confusing in some areas if things had been explained earlier on. Instead, they were spoken about, but I didn’t have any clue what they really meant.
There were also a few cliches thrown in here and there, though I’m not going to get into detail to avoid spoilers. I could have done without some of the cliches in this otherwise very unique story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It started off slow, but was all worth it in the end with tons of action packed scenes. I liked the characters, though I didn’t love them, and the world-building and writing were both amazing. Definitely one of my favorites of 2016, despite the small issues I had with it.