Our Violent Ends
- Author: Chloe Gong
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: November 16, 2021
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
- Series: These Violent Delights #2
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: murder, gun violence, blood, violence, gore, grief, death of children
Beware — this review may include some spoilers for These Violent Delights, so if you haven’t read it yet, you might want to skip this review.
The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.
After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on a mission. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.
Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.
Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.
I read this as a buddy read with Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog, and the two of us basically just fangirled for the majority of our discussion. We had both really been looking forward to reading this, and the conclusion to this duology didn’t let us down at all. There were just so many things to love about this book, and nothing I didn’t like, so I’m just going to run through the things that I enjoyed and why.
The characters. While there were a couple that I actually despised and was hoping they’d die, the ones that I fell in love with from These Violent Delights were just as amazing in this book. Juliette is still a feminist badass, but goes through such an immense arc of character growth that I couldn’t help but be astounded. Roma is still the cinnamon roll, but his character arc was a little more back and forth. He’s so emotionally tortured in this book. And don’t even get me started on Benedikt and Marshall, and Kathleen and Rosalind. I loved them all, even as they were struggling with their own individual and group issues.
The geopolitical issues. Gong dealt with the historical issues facing Shanghai in such a fabulous and accessible way. I’m not overly familiar with Chinese history, but she kind of portrayed Shanghai as a pie being fought over by the gangs, imperialist foreigners, the Nationalists, and the Communists, and although the gangs could have worked together to fight the opposing forces, they just weren’t willing or able to set aside their blood feud to work join forces. It also portrayed Shanghai as another character, as a living entity.
The tension. There’s a thick undercurrent of tension running throughout the story that only gets heavier towards the end of the book. The feeling of *something* is going to happen only got stronger as I read on, and I know that Becky felt the same way because we struggled to stop reading at the designated discussion points.
The way Gong stuck to the original play but also made it her own. Although I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan, I had to read Romeo and Juliet in school. It was a long time ago, but I do remember the original structure of the story. The duology has enough echoes of the original story, but Gong has definitely put her own distinctive spin on it. Adding a feminist flair by making Juliette undoubtedly the star of the show, ensuring that diversity has a central place in the story, throwing in the monster as a fantasy element, and bringing the story into the complicated era of the 1920s with the cultural and political changes occurring just breathed fresh life into this tired old story.
The romance. Although this is an enemies to lovers to enemies and back to lovers story, I never got tired of the dynamic between Roma and Juliette. The banter and violence between them only amped it up, and the changed gender roles, with Juliette often playing the aggressor and Roma the cinnamon roll was a fascinating switch that kept me hooked on them. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.
The action. With the two main characters being heirs to rival gangs, there’s bound to be action. There were some plot twists that Becky and I had figured out, but there were still so many plot twists that managed to surprise me. And I honestly never felt disappointed when I figured out a twist — I found myself cheering or saying “YES!” when I got to the reveal. The story never lagged or got boring.
If these aren’t enough reasons for you to read this, the writing itself is beautiful. It’s an incredible accomplishment for any author, let alone one who is in college during a pandemic. Chloe Gong has outdone herself with this one, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 22
Categories: Book Review