Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.
August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.
Their city is divided.
Their city is crumbling.
Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.
But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?
Oh, man. Oh, man. Oh, man.
I will freely admit that I was intimidated by this book initially because of the hype that surrounds it. It’s all most everyone can talk about in the book community, and to be honest, I kind of dreaded the possibility that I’d be that one asshole who hated it because you all know how the internet can be: one bad word said against something everyone loves, and you’ve got a mob of pitchforks and torches coming for you. Now, I can hold my own just fine, even get down and dirty with the worst of them, but I’m almost 30.
Turns out, however, that I absolutely love this book. It gripped me from page one and wouldn’t let go, and even now I’m impatiently waiting for the sequel, Our Dark Duet, due out some time next summer. The cover for that is gorgeous, and side by side with This Savage Song? Ugh. I’m trying desperately not to go too far into fan-girl mode and get through this review, which won’t be much because I don’t want to spoil anything, so this will be mostly my reaction to it.
First off, I really love the world that the author seemed to create within the pages. Reading about the division of the city felt like I was actually there, was able to picture inside my mind the different areas, the green, yellow, red of it all. I will say, that, in order for me to image the different borders, I ended up picturing something like out of Attack on Titan or Akame ga Kill (I think that’s the one I’m thinking of, where the safest part of the city is the fortress in the center). Maybe even a combination of both.
I love how well detailed August’s and Kate’s emotions were. August is the third Sunai after his brother, Leo, who’s more “lost” than his siblings. August doesn’t want to be what he is, and because of that, most of the book is him struggling with his need to feel human, and his need to feed. If he doesn’t feed, then he’s at risk of “going dark,” something he really doesn’t want to do, but to avoid it, he has to play his song and feed on a red soul, the soul of a sinner. If he doesn’t feed, his skin gets hot, feverish, and because he’s fighting, he’s in pain, too. You just really feel for him, and I even had a moment of, “I wish I could take his pain away.”
Then you have Kate, who has a loathing for monsters, yet is constantly in the same room as one because of her father’s pet, who’d like nothing more than for her to not be there. She tries desperately to get in her father’s good graces, and eventually comes up with a plan to capture a Sunai, the one breed of monster that her father doesn’t have (Corsai and Malchai are the others), to prove that she is a Harker and she can be just as ruthless. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and Kate discovers that August isn’t the kind of monster she’s always been warned, and August learns that Kate is nothing like her father, and after an incident at their school in the North City, they end up teaming together to figure out what the hell is going on.
The absolute best part about this book, though? THERE’S NO ROMANCE.
There’s murder and monsters and darkness, but no romance. I’ll admit, when I heard about that snazzy little tidbit, it shot this book all the way up to the top of my list of books to read. That, and the back of the book has the words to a poem about the monsters of Verity:
Tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone
Will eat you raw.
Sharp and sly,
Smile and bite
And drink you dry.
Eyes like coal,
Sing you a song
And steal your soul.
Big and small,
They’re gonna come
And eat you all.”
I mean, I can probably sing that all day, it’s so mesmerizing.
Now, the writing. I think that’s why this book gripped me so tightly, was because of the writing style. I love how stream-of-consciousness it was in the really tense and suspenseful moments, made me feel immersed into the world. Victoria Schwab has a gift for writing, and I’ve never been so grateful that she’s chosen to share it with the world.
The book does end on a cliffhanger, but seeing as it’s the first book in a series, that’s to be expected. Speaking of the ending, though:
That was my face when I got to the surprise ending. Now, I’m really looking forward to the sequel, but only the cover has been revealed (and the summary). Judging by the author’s Twitter page, I don’t think she’s 100% finished writing the book, yet, but that’s okay. I can be patient. I think.
Until then, I think This Savage Song deserves five stars from me, and that’s what I give it. I just love it so fucking much.
P.S. I forgot to mention that I love how “gray area” the characters are. Nothing is black and white. There is an in-between, and it’s up to them to decide how far to go and when to pull back. Human beings are flawed creatures; monsters even more so. I love that the author doesn’t shy away from that, and was able to successfully (in my opinion) convey their internal struggles of what is “right” or what is “wrong” and then coming to a conclusion that suits their conscience.