This Savage Song

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4.9 (4)
 
3.8 (2)
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This Savage Song
Age Range
12+
Release Date
July 05, 2016
ISBN
978-0062380852
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There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed 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, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor. 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. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

Editor reviews

4 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.9
Plot 
 
5.0  (4)
Characters 
 
4.8  (4)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (4)
A Thrilling, Dangerous Adventure
(Updated: July 11, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
With darkness in every corner, how do you fight your demons?

This Savage Song is a brilliant, creatively dark and deceptive book filled with dancing shadows and thrilling darkness. I breezed through this book and already I can't wait for the next one! Monsters that are actually bred from violence? Count me in! This is a dark and thrilling adventure, and I loved every minute of it!

The writing really made this book work for me. I was easily dragged in and I didn't want out. I flipped through pages easily and devoured the story as quickly as I could. My favourite part however, had to be the whole monster aspect. Violence breeds monsters; Actual monsters. You have Corsai, Malchai, and Sunai, all dangerous and dark and deadly. They are all horrifying in their greed and power and strength, but we also get to see a better side of the Sunai via August Flynn, and I really enjoyed that.

Being one of the most deadly monsters in the city, August should be cold, dark, and unforgiving like every other monster in Verity City, but instead he fights to be human, to act and feel like them, look like them. This is what eventually changes Kate's views on monsters, and what helps her character develop the way it does. It's a brilliant transformation, and it was very enjoyable to read, especially their interactions!

This book also has a dystopian feel to it. I didn't expect that, but it explained why the city was divided into two (Flynn's side and Harker's side; North and South) and the destruction and violence that occurs, and why they can't leave, why it's only their city being affected. The destruction of Flynn's side and utopia feel of Harker's side really let us delve into their characters a bit more, to understand why things happened how they did. Suffice it to say, Harker made my skin go cold. He was cruel, malicious, but almost seemed like a hero for letting people pay for his protection! He's a master liar and manipulator, and his darkness chilled me, but also made me enjoy this story a whole lot more. I loved every minute we got with destruction and horror, which is pretty much the entire novel.

Unfortunately, while you can connect with the characters in a way that you can understand their choices, feelings, and actions, you don't empathize or care. You see the destruction and horror and know you should feel something, but you can only watch it happen without the empathetic connection. It's a great read, and I couldn't put it down, but it wasn't because my heart was racing in fear for the characters, or aching to know what happens to them. It was because the world and the monstrous aspects and just the plot of it all held me captive while the writing hooked me, and I wanted more of that. That doesn't mean the characters are bad, because they aren't. They are brilliant and I loved them all, their strength and bravery, their struggles and confessions, the bad things they had to do... I just couldn't form that one connection that would've made this book a five-star read.

Overall, This Savage Song is a thrilling, mysterious and dangerous adventure that gave me chills and made my dark little heart smile. No one is safe, and hardly anyone is who they seems to be. I loved the writing, the world, and the plot. This is a book I would definitely recommend!
Good Points
Great world-building, Great Ploy, Good characters, Great character-development
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This Savage Song
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
What worked: Where do I even begin? This novel is amazingly brilliant with it's lush, dark world of monsters set some time in the future. Beautifully written, I was hooked right from the very first page and couldn't put this book down!

THIS SAVAGE SONG introduces readers to two very unlikely protagonists. Kate Harker is edgy and almost as ruthless as her father. After being kicked out of her sixth boarding school, she is sent back home to prove to her father that she's worthy of him.

August Flynn is a monster only he looks very human. He can steal a soul(one that is evil) with a song. He's also one of the three most powerful monsters in a city run by Kate's corrupt father and his minion monsters.

I totally loved this book something fierce. Action packed with flawed characters that you can't help but love. The setting is rich in details which includes three different types of monsters that are dangerous to humans.

The chemistry between Kate and August is one of two very unlikely friends that have so much going against them. They aren't friends per say but each works together to combat the growing evil that threatens to tear the City apart. Think YA meets a futurist Gotham City complete with monsters.

Lush, beautifully written dark urban fantasy that doesn't disappoint! There's alliances, betrayals, secrets, monsters, and an omg worthy ending that gave me chills! My only disappointment is I have to wait another year for the sequel!
Good Points
1. Amazingly brilliant
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A dark, gorgeous tale of monsters
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
For the past couple years, Victoria (V.E.) Schwab has been focusing on her adult books, with Vicious and her Darker Shade series. However, This Savage Song takes her back to her start in YA, with an urban fantasy that explores the question of what it means to be monstrous. For readers of her adult works, expect a tone closer to Vicious than Darker Shade, and for readers of her YA, be prepared for a darker, twistier tale than either The Archived or The Near Witch.

This Savage Song takes place in a time and place not too removed from the world we live in now, except for one crucial detail — in this world, acts of violence breed literal monsters. The more horrific the violence, the more terrible the creature it creates.

August, one of the two narrators, is one such monster, born out of an event so horrible, he can barely bring himself to think of it. He wants nothing more than to be human, but throughout the story, it becomes increasingly clear why that can never be possible, and why, even so, he can never stop trying.

Kate Harker, the other narrator, is the teenage daughter of the most powerful man in the city, and would happily throw away her humanity if it won her the attention of her father. She and August don’t so much come together as collide, and the narrative of This Savage Song clearly relishes playing out the tension between the monster boy longing for the very thing his human companion doesn’t seem to value at all, and the girl trying to reconcile what she knows of monsters with the boy standing in front of her.

It’s hard to discuss the plot of This Savage Song without getting into spoilers, so suffice it to say that the entire book is a tense, thrilling exploration of what it means to be human, what can make someone monstrous, and the marks violence leaves, both on the soul and on society. Kate and August’s relationship follows one of my favorite trajectories in fiction, from enemies to wary allies to respected partners to trusted friends, and I loved every delicious moment of their slow-burn friendship (is slow-burn friendship a thing? Because it should be).

I also was fascinated by the monsters that populated the dark world of This Savage Song. For the most part, they are not the mindless, salivating brutes of horror novels and fairy tales, but sinister, intelligent beings with agendas of their own. When the story starts, the monsters have more or less taken over the city, but they still have structure and hierarchy within their new, monstrous society. I’ve always considered worldbuilding one of Victoria’s great strengths, and This Savage Song is no exception, as she feels her way through how the world as we know it would change — and how it would remain the same — if monsters roamed among us.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the writing itself; as always, Victoria’s prose is beautiful, each word carefully chosen, each paragraph meticulously crafted. On a sentence level, I truly feel she’s one of the most talented writers in the game today. There’s hardly a page that goes by without a phrase that would be appropriate to print in loopy script and place in a frame somewhere. Her worldbuilding is lush and detailed, the dialogue sharp, the action taught, and the act of reading her words is decadence and joy and education all in one.

Make no mistake, This Savage Song is very dark, probably Schwab’s darkest since Vicious, and therefore won’t be for everyone. It’s violent and disturbing and, at times, very sad. But despite its darkness, it’s not a depressing book. Yes, Kate and August go through terrible trials and have to face awful things, but when I turned the final few pages of This Savage Song (which, it’s worth noting, ends on a very satisfying note, despite this book being the first of a duology), I felt oddly uplifted. For me, though it’s subtle, there was an undercurrent of light woven throughout the story, enough to leave the reader with the impression that though things may get bad, so bad it seems nearly impossible for them to ever turn around, that there is always hope. There is always goodness somewhere, maybe buried deep, maybe not where you’d expect to find it, and you might have to fight tooth and nail to get to it, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but in my opinion, it’s executed beautifully here.

If you are a fan of urban fantasy, unlikely friendships, gorgeous writing, and thoughtful explorations of morality and monstrousness, rush to your local bookstore and dive into the world of This Savage Song today.
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Equally Compelling and Disturbing
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Kate is the daughter of the powerful Callum Harker, the man who controls the monsters in V-City. Kate is human, but she's done monstrous things.
August is the son of Henry Flynn, head of the military force fighting for peace, and to hold the monsters back. August is a Sunai, a monster who steals souls, but he only wants to be more human.

Dark and light collide in THIS SAVAGE SONG, the first part in a thrilling paranormal duology by best-selling author Victoria Schwab.

At the same time a character study and a hardcore paranormal fantasy, THIS SAVAGE SONG explores the duality of monstrosity and humanity. Dynamic plot twists and fantastic writing, along with complex characters and a world with more depth than I expected create a real page-turner. The very physical divide in V-City is echoed in the divides between Kate and her father, and August and his family's goals. Kate and August come from different sides of the city, and completely different backgrounds, but when their lives are threatened by monsters, both human and Malchai, the teens realize they have a lot in common. By fighting together they reveal the secrets behind the threats on their lives while struggling to keep back the darkness that's nearly overwhelming them both. There is a hint of romance between the two, as expected, but it takes backseat to the more immediate plot elements of danger and running for their lives! While I wanted slightly less predictability, there were still plenty of surprises and excitement. Equally compelling and disturbing in a "just-can't-look-away" kind of way, THIS SAVAGE SONG is gritty and page-turning and I highly recommend it.
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User reviews

2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.8
Plot 
 
4.0  (2)
Characters 
 
3.5  (2)
Writing Style 
 
4.0  (2)
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Monstrously Interesting Fantasy
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
This Savage Song is a uniquely peculiar novel that cleverly combines magic, monsters and music. Dark, violent and monstrous, the novel is a real slow-burn that leaves you wanting to know more.

I really had no idea what to expect going into this novel. I have only read one V.E. Schwab novel before – A Darker Shade of Magic – and while I enjoyed it, I’ve never really felt the immediate urge to finish the series. So I was a little hesitant to pick up This Savage Song because, let’s be honest, Schwab’s novels are highly venerated by the YA community and there’s always been a tiny part of me that thinks that they’re … overrated? (Don’t hate on me.)

But I was very glad I gave this novel a chance because I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot is quite ingenious and features an impending war, badass if unmoral characters, and a unique take on vampiric monsters – the Malchai who feed on blood, the Corsai who feed on bones and flesh, and the Sunai who feed on souls.

August is one of only three Sunais in existence, and unlike his “brother” Leo who believes that Sunais are superior to all other monsters and humanity, August just wants to be a normal human boy. He takes no pleasure in feeding on souls and even goes so far as to try to stop himself from eating altogether. He has to be one of the sweetest characters I have ever come across in YA literature and I can see every reader falling for him. His struggles are emphatically real and relatable – he has issues with his family, issues with morality, and issues fighting his nature.

Although I generally liked Kate and responded to her, I did have a few issues with her too. While I was ecstatic that there is a YA novel that features a ruthless female protagonist, I did find some of Kate’s lines to be a little cheesy. Her constant attempts to act macho just came across as awkward – I actually laughed out loud when she tried to frighten a fellow classmate by saying she is “worse” than her father. Sure 17-year-old Kate, you are much more frightening than a man who literally controls monsters, owns half a city, and has every wealthy person in his pocket. Sure.

Despite the few occasions where she irked me, Kate does grow as a character and learns from her past and her mistakes. Reading her POV, you discover that inside she is just lost and craves her father’s attention. Once Kate goes through a brief development, I liked her so much better and can’t wait to read about her in the sequel and finale.

The world-building is incredibly interesting but also quite slow in developing. It wasn’t until around page 200 that we are told exactly how the monsters are created, and I am still a little confused as to what happened all those years ago that resulted in V-City separating into two. I usually have no problem with slow world-building, but in regards to This Savage Song, the background history should have been explained sooner for clarity.

The writing was top-notch, and the point of views very distinctive – I enjoyed the frequent POV flips as they showed different sides to Kate and August that we wouldn’t have necessarily seen through their own views.

This Savage Song is a different type of fantasy: Schwab offers her unique brand of magic on an otherwise overused “monster” story, and shows us you don’t have to be a literal monster to be monstrous.
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cool premise as always Ms Schwab
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
"You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn't matter if you're monster or human. Living hurts."

I wasn't expecting much diving into this story. Sure, we're talking about Victoria Schwab, the woman who gave birth to ADSoM, with its mouth-gaping magic system and charming characters (Gaahhh Kell ?) but I always try not to be too biased by my love for an author when it comes to a new book of theirs.

The story is about Verity city which is inhabitated by both humans and monsters. One half of the city is controlled by Flynn, the other one by Harker, a man who grants his citizen's protection at a pretty high monetary prize. Also, he owns a great chunk of the monster population. The two sides have been on the verge of war for quite a long time.
The monsters are of three kind: Malchai, Corsai and Sunai.

" Corsai fed on flesh and bone, Malchai on blood, and whose it was meant nothing to them. But the Sunai could feed only on sinners. That's what set them apart. "

(again, Victoria has done it again, after that beauty that Arnesian is, she chose the most beautiful words to name her monsters!)

Our main characters are August, a Sunai who lives with the Flynns, and Kate, Harker's daughter. I wasn't greatly impressed by these two: August is pretty boring actually, the monster who wants to feel human, who denies himself his monstruous nature because is incapable of accepting it. Sure, it is an interesting concept but I wanted to read about kickass monsters, not angsty ones. Kate is the rebel one, she has always lived great lenghts away from her father (both emotionally and physically) and wants to demonstrate him how she's a Harker too, how she can manage leadership over the monsters as well. Between the two I found her to be more well-rounded than August, probably because we got glimpses of her past that made us understand how the woman we see today came to be. Plus she has the best comebacks:

"What are you doing?"
"Praying" she said.
Rachel arched a brow, "For what?"
"Forgiveness," said Kate. "For what I'm about to do if you don't get out of my way."


The chemistry between the two worked pretty well but I would have preferred a little bit more of communication on both parts.

The major problem I had with this book though weren't the main characters. My problem with This Savage Song was the overall plot and side characters. Nothing really happened, there wasn't a slow building up to the major final twist. The two MCs were too oblivious to too many things and, us following their path, could only see one side of the story which didn't give me the whole picture of what was going on. The side characters only happeared sporadically. I wasn't given the means to sympathise with them and when in the end things went down I really didn't care.
The cliffhanger was pretty interesting, reminded me a little of ADSoM, but I didn't see it coming so I'm curious as to find out what happens next.

In the end I was not the greatest fan of this work but it still managed to instill in me that seed of curiosity that will encourage me to pick up the next instalment in this series!
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