Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Indigo Canada
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River. – Goodreads
What I liked
- Gong writes beautifully, and readers will have no trouble following along with the various characters’ points of view.
- I appreciated the diverse representations that we see in this book. I saw a transgender character, M/M romance and POC representation.
- I liked the inclusion of the political and international strife that was going on around this time. I felt this addition was something new and refreshing in a YA plot. The inclusion of political parties is something that I don’t see in YA Fantasy (at least in the books I read) that often.
- Benedikt’s and Roma’s relationship was my favourite part of These Violent Delights. I felt connected and was rooting for a lot of the side characters in this novel (Ex: Alisa, Kathleen, Marshall, Benedikt, etc.).
What I did not enjoy
- The pacing felt off in this story, and I thought it did not flow as strongly as it could have. The first 200 pages were slow for me to read, whereas the last 240 pages were fast and engaging for me as a reader.
- I couldn’t feel the chemistry between Roma and Juliette. I think this is because of how the plot, and the character’s past, were balanced in the story. I think the events of this book overshadowed Juliette’s and Roma’s character development as a couple. I wanted to see more about their past and their current feelings of awkwardness tied to that past.
- I wanted a bit more description of Shanghai and the time-period.
I enjoyed the writing style, side characters, setting and the inclusion of representation and political issues of 1920s Shanghai. I felt the story’s pacing, flow and chemistry between Roma and Juliette could have been more solid. I also wanted a bit more description of Shanghai and the time-period. This book, while I did enjoy it, fell a bit short for me. Overall, I will still check out the sequel when it comes out next year.