With the release of Our Dark Duet on June 13th, 2017, Victoria’s Schwab’s Young Adult Duology, which began with This Savage Song on July 5th, 2016, is now complete, and so it felt like it was time to review both books, and the duology itself, as a whole.
The duology itself flows very well together – the story, the characters and the tone of the writing are consistent across both books, and I definitely feel that the story Schwab crafted here was well suited to a duology. More books may have simply dragged the story out for too long, while a single book definitely wouldn’t have done August and Kate’s stories justice (Overall Duology Rating: 3.5/5).
This Savage Song (July 5th, 2016)
Turning my focus to the individual books, the first of two books, This Savage Song is a the first in this dark urban fantasy duology from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab. In This Savage Song, 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.
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. 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. All the while, August and Kate will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.
In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham. Verity is dark, dangerous and utterly ruthless; the kind of place that rips the innocent and the kind to shreds. And while August and Kate aren’t wholly either of those things, they aren’t necessarily prepared for the darkness they’ll face within the city – and themselves – as they struggle with the monsters of Verity, both human and not.
One of the things I loved most about this book was August and Kate’s inner struggles. They, as characters, are notably imperfect and flawed – in the beginning, I even detested Kate quite a bit. Both want to be something they’re not, and struggle with two conflicting selves throughout the novel. And while Schwab has personified the inner demon in This Savage Song, I felt like it was the inner demons – of August, Kate, and those around them – that stole the show.
Moreover, this book was just incredibly well-written. Schwab managed to balance world-building, character development and plot without focusing too heavily on one over the other, resulting in a pleasantly paced plot in a fascinating world that is riddled with intriguing characters and truly despicable villains.
Overall, This Savage Song set the bar pretty high – with a complex and detailed plot, stunning world-building and truly incredible characters, Schwab will be hard-pressed to out-do herself in Our Dark Duet (4/5).
Our Dark Duet (June 13, 2017)
The sequel—and conclusion—to Victoria Schwab’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller, This Savage Song. Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost. Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
Just shy of a year after the release of This Savage Song, Schwab once again graced the shelves of newly released YA Fiction with her newest book, Our Dark Duet. Since finishing This Savage Song, I have taken the time to familiarize myself with more of Schwab’s writing (Including her A Darker Shade of Magic Trilogy and Vicious), so I found myself going into Our Dark Duet with pretty high expectations.
And perhaps that was my mistake.
Because while Our Dark Duet shone in all the same areas as its predecessor, I simply didn’t enjoy it as much. In fact, I found myself struggling to finish it, often lacking the motivation to actually pick it up and continue reading.
Perhaps it was that that direction of the plot and story felt predictable to me.
Or that nothing that happened felt particularly memorable.
Or even really evoked emotion.
However, I must once again note that one of the things I loved most about this book was August and Kate’s inner struggles. They, as characters, are notably imperfect and flawed – definite “grey” characters whose decisions reflect a more realistic, relatable protagonist, rather than the perfect, shining white protagonist YA Authors too often throw at us.
I was also a huge fan of the grim, realistic ending of this book – too often authors find a way to cheat their characters out of their prescribed endings – even death – so I was happy to see that Schwab’s characters found ends which reflected their journeys.
Overall, while I didn’t love Our Dark Duet, it undoubtedly fit quite well with the tone and story of This Savage Song, soundly rounding of the duology (3/5).