Friday, September 23, 2016
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab - Book Review - aka What Happens When I Read YA Fantasy?
"This Savage Song" has been blowing up #bookstagram for a while, and had a mile long waiting list at my library- so I knew I needed to pick up a copy and give it a shot! Typically, I read contemporary fiction that is written for adults- so "This Savage Song" was definitely outside of my comfort zone and I learned a lot about fantasy storytelling. But did I enjoy the book?
Synopsis from goodreads.com
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, 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. The first of two books.
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.
What I Liked
I am not usually a fantasy reader, and I think I've come to believe it is just not my genre- so you probably won't see too much of it here. I'm pretty prejudiced against it, so it means something when I say there were several things I liked about it.
First off, I'd read the sequel - which I think is a great test by the way if you are trying to decide whether you enjoyed a book. If there was a follow up, would you want more of these characters, more of this setting, more of this story? A lot of times for me the answer is no, but I enjoyed this book and Schwab's writing enough that I am interested to see where the story goes.
I enjoyed Kate and Augustus's characters and found their father relationships really interesting as well. Kate's father isn't the best, and as a reader I spent a lot of time wondering why in the hell Kate wanted to spend time with a father who is so obviously evil. Augustus on the other hand calls the man who he lives with, Henry, his dad - even though to most he wouldn't be. Augustus's dad is a helpful and kind person, sure, but Augustus hasn't known him but for a couple of years, and with him not actually being a human Henry isn't in anyway a biological father either. So the interplay of Kate, who highly regards her terrible father and Augustus who highly regards and trusts his "adoptive" father was intriguing.
The suspense of what would happen to Kate and Augustus was fun to read as well. I don't usually enjoy action scenes, but Schwab did an excellent job writing them so that were both easy to follow and not overly excessive.
What I Didn't Like
Oh, where to start. For the sake of not sounding like a grumpy curmudgeon of an old lady, I fully acknowledge that a lot of the things that I didn't like about the book speak to my general dislike of fantasy and my being "old". I hate to be biased against a book just for being what it is, fantasy and YA.
But- in case there are other readers who had the same thoughts and are looking for moral support, my immediate thoughts after starting the book were - Holy shit, that girl just lit a church on fire! And then, what are the firebug and complain-y kid going to do together - this seems like an obvious disaster, right?
But mostly I was thinking - I know this is not a love story in an obvious way but why is this boy of an indeterminate age the almost love interest in this book? I was a 17 year old girl once, not that long ago I might add- could I find a fourty year old guy attractive then, sure! Hell, the entire cast of One Tree Hill and Dawson's Creek were pushing 30. Would me being interested in and hanging around a much older man be a readable storyline, eh, maybe. Should that much, much older man be interested in me- hells no! Does that story become better if he is 110- no. What if he is "ageless"- to me, nope. Ditto if you are a teenage boy and the girl is 110. I just can't even.
Um, also Augustus sews up Kate's torso after a conversation that pretty much amounted to - my father is a doctor, trust me. ( ?!?!?) Oh, your father- you mean that random that you live with? And how does that make you a person with enough medical knowledge to safely suture a large wound? Oh it doesn't- that's how.
Why You Should Read It
YA books are amazing and fantasy is really neat- but they have a specific audience especially when they are combined. As an adult, I would not recommend this book to other adults unless they were specifically looking for YA fantasy, because this book is very much both of those! Which is great, but you really have to be wanting that in order to enjoy it. If you are part of the book blogger or bookstagram community though, I think this book is fun to read just to join in on the conversation! No need for FOMO, this book is definitely worth the time it took me to read it.
Have you read This Savage Song? What did you think of the book? Let me know below! Thinking about reading it? Click the link to the left to find a copy at your local library. Or click below to buy it on Amazon.