This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Format: ARC provided by HarperCollins through GoodReads
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Fiction, horror, young adult, action, monsters aren’t the real monsters (except when they definitely are)
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Summary: All across the former United States and in the territory now known as Verity, monsters are real. August is one such monster, and he’s been tasked with infiltrating humanity, attending the Colton Academy in the North and getting close to Kate Harker, the daughter of his father’s enemy. But what happens when an unlikely friendship blooms between the two and they realize that more than just monsters can be monstrous?
This Savage Song is the latest incredibly inventive novel from the mind of Victoria Schwab, which means you can expect all of the world building and plenty of amazing characters!
Set in an alternate/possible slightly future version of America where monsters exist, This Savage Song (the first book in the Monsters of Verity duology) follows monster August Flynn who longs to be human, and Kate Harper, a girl who seeks to hide her own humanity.
Where Kate is an only child haunted by her dead mother and a distant father intent on sending her away, August is loved, adopted by Henry and Emily Flynn, who in addition to August have taken in two other monsters, the whimsical and alluring Isla and the poster boy for The Flynn Task Force, Leo. Did I mention Kate and August’s fathers are enemies forced into a tentative peace agreement? Because they definitely are.
Much like Schwab’s superb adult novel Vicious, which is painted in shades of grey, Kate and August have the potential to be both good and evil. Despite fighting against his own instincts and his desires to be a human boy rather than a monster, August must kill to survive (a fact which he loathes). Kate on the other hand wants to appear more monstrous, but regardless of her tough as nails exterior and her less than stalwart intentions, underneath it all she has a good heart.
While Kate and August appear to be headed for a star-crossed love story — both their fathers run one half of the capital and are enemies after all — aside from some mild flirtation, there is no sign of romance anywhere. Because do monsters even have sexual desires? Do they even have human genitalia? Also, all novels don’t need a romantic component, just saying.
In addition to her fully fleshed out characters, Schwab also gives readers a completely realized world — both of which seem to be her specialty.
After the Phenomenon (the point in time when monsters became fact rather than fiction), the United States was divided into ten territories, the four largest being Valor, Prosperity, Fortitude and Verity.
In the world of Verity where our story takes place, Schwab focuses mainly on V-City, a super city that houses 24 million residents. The North is run by the ruthless Callum Harker (Kate’s father and the real monster here) and the only citizens allowed to live in his territory are those who pay for his protection. Who’s he protecting them from? Monsters, some of whom he controls. The less well off residents live in the South, which is patrolled and protected from monsters by August’s father Henry Flynn and his aforementioned task force the FTF.
In Schwab’s world, there are three types of monsters: the Corsai, Malchai and Sunai, all of whom cannot lie, who are essentially created through violent human actions, and who are repelled by metal (although the Sunai can tolerate it).
The Corsai are the most animalistic of all the monsters and possess a hive mind. Allergic to the light, they feed on flesh and bone and are created from non-lethal acts. Malchai are characterized by their red eyes and sharp teeth, they prefer to hunt at night, drink blood to survive and their catalyst is murder.
August is the most rare form of monster, the Sunai. Created from events that claim many lives (bombings, shooting and other massacres), the Sunai, who can compel others with their music, feed on the life force of sinner’s, which manifests itself as a living shadow.
All of which makes August’s task of successfully infiltrating human society and befriending Kate Harker even more difficult.
- Fully fleshed out characters
- A wholly realized world
- Who needs romantic love when you have friendship
- Monsters are real and they are horrifying
- Had a little too much action toward the end for my tastes
- “Plenty of humans are monstrous, and plenty of monsters know how to play at being human.”
- “You could burn so brightly… If you let yourself.”
- “Every weakness exposes flesh… And flesh invites a knife.”
- “It was a cruel trick of the universe, thought August, that he only felt human after doing something monstrous.”
Monsters, monsters, big and small, / They’re gonna come and eat you all. / Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw, / Shadow and bone will eat you raw. / Malachai, Malachai, sharp and sly, / Smile and bite and drink you dry. / Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal, / Sing you a song and steal your soul.