Jun 23, 2016

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publishing Date: July 5, 2016
Pages/Format: 464, eARC
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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 Schwaba 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.

Book in One Word: Good!

This Savage Song came with a selling point that I find very hard to resist: monsters. Creatures, beasts, and monsters--I love them. Victoria Schwab's latest also seemed to play with a concept that I am very much a fan of, the blurred line between good and evil: who is the monster and who is the man? (See also: Vicious.) Coupled with the fact that Schwab can write, it's suffice to say that This Savage Song would be right up my alley. But it just missed it.

"It's a monster's world."

This isn't my first Schwab novel--I've also read Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic. And I've noticed something about her novels: I like them, and I can fully, wholly acknowledge that they are good books and that they're very well written, but I have a bit of a disconnect with them. I don't know what it is, but I don't know how else to describe or explain why I don't love her books. Maybe part of it's the hype? I don't know. Her books have so many factors that I love and they play around with villainy and that's fantastic--but I don't love them.

"The beautiful thing about books was that anyone could open them."

As far as This Savage Song goes, I wouldn't say it's my favorite of the three. The first chapter--the prologue--was so damn strong. The writing was there, and the short scene Schwab created was so visual and dimensional. And the characterization--damn. Talk about an attention grabbing opener. Buuut, I would've liked it if more time was spent building up the connection between Kate and August--it started and then exploded before the image was fully created. (I think I just really like to see things build up; I don't like to miss that development.) Then there's the concept, which was intriguing, but I didn't always get how some things worked and how this world came to be. I love how violence started to breed actual monsters in Verity, and it would be so grand to see more of that world. None of my complaints are even really complaints; I'm just nitpicking, pointing out a few things. This is a longer novel, but I do wish more time was spent on certain developments, that we got to see them expand bit by bit.

"Her world became a heavy beat, a rhythm, an angry voice."

I've already mentioned that Schwab can write (I highlighted a few quotes from the book, as you can see), but I'd also like to point out her ability to create characters and make flesh out of paper and words. Her characters--even most of the secondary and minor and seemingly nonsensical ones--are very real. Not every book has characters that peel off the page easier than a sticker, but Schwab's do. And that she can accomplish that with minor characters, too? I told you she can write.

"It was a cruel trick of the universe...that he felt human only after doing something monstrous."

This Savage Song is told from the points of view of Kate and August. One's a human, one's a monster. One lives with adoptive parents and has a violin-shaped soul, while the other has a mob-boss-like father who rules over monsters and isn't really a father. I'll tell you what: I thought I knew who was the monster and who was the human, but I was wrong. It's that idea again: who is the monster and who is the man? But I really liked both of them. Kate is a very strong-headed, stubborn girl who doesn't really give a shit what you think of her and will scare you to prove it. If there's one thing she really cares about, it's the desire and need to please her father and show him that she's worthy of taking over his position when he retires--she will take it is her argument. The girl's a fireball. August, in contrast, is the opposite. If Kate is an indestructible Furby, then August is a delicate porcelain doll. He fights against his inner self and tries very hard to fit into a certain form. But he's sensitive and tends to lean toward the polite side, making him the sugar to Kate's spice. August's parents try to keep him safe from the monstrous world they live in, but August wants to fight and help save people. He wants the chance to make a difference--but for something good. Like I said, the two are very different. But as a team, they are very compatible and compliment each other and are a force to be reckoned with. (And August brings out Kate's sugar while she brings out his spice.)

"It was a cycle of whimpers and bangs, gruesome beginnings and bloody ends."

I'm disappointed that I didn't love This Savage Song, especially when it had so many strong elements and intriguing points going for it. That's not to say it isn't a good book--because it is one. For me, it just wasn't quite enough. (And maybe I expected it to be a bit more monstrous?) This Savage Song has a dimensional cast of characters, a unique world I would love to see more of, stellar writing, and a mix of music and monsters and madness. I wouldn't complain if the sequel upped the ante on the monsters. For now, this is a good start--and some of those scenes. But I would love to see more. (And some kissing. Please.)

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? I don't think so.
Would I reread it? Maybe.
Would I purchase it? I will be for Schwab's upcoming signing, but otherwise I wouldn't be in any rush or need to own it.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of Victoria Schwab, books that are very well written, dimensional characters, and monsters that do more than hide under your bed.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I understand the kind of disconnect you can have with novels and it's really upsetting haha. I haven't been able to read any of her books unfortunately, but I've been meaning to. I've heard so many great things about her Darker Shade of Magic series.

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