Can I just say, before I get into the review in case any of you were considering clicking out of this post, I have not read a book this good since Chain of Gold in March. That’s how good this book is. Ok if you were planning on leaving (please don’t) I guess you can go now.
Genre: YA, historical, fantasy
Format: NetGalley e-ARC
My Rating: 5/5 stars (I would give it more if I could)
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.
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.
This book WRECKED me. The note on my phone where I was recording my thoughts is soooooo long. I was serious when I said I hadn’t read a book this good since Chain of Gold. This book is Chain of Gold level. Seriously, it has Cassie Clare level angst. I laughed, I cried (seriously, I have a video of me crying because of this book). The writing is impeccable, the atmosphere is incredibly immersive. I mean, I’ve never been to Shanghai, but I almost feel as if I had now. And the roaring 20’s vibes? *chef’s kiss* so good!
Let’s talk first about the characters because that was undeniably my favorite part. I am a character-driven reader. I will not deny it. Five pages into this book, I had written, and I quote, “I already love Juliette” in my notes. Juliette Cai (pronounced like sigh, not kai) has my entire heart. This girl is my soulmate. Or, if not, we would be best friends. Or she would hate me. There’s not much in between with Juliette. She is ruthless and decisive, but she is also so relatable and so so kind and loving to the people she loves. And Roma. Soft boy Roma. I also love him so much. He is so precious, and he just loves Juliette so much. I think, if Will and Jem were one person, it would be Roma Montagov. And don’t even get me started on their relationship. This had June and Day level angst and drama. My new OTP, without a doubt.
Benedikt and Marshall. That’s it. That’s the review. Their interactions had me literally screaming. I had to close the book more than once. They are just too cute. They don’t even get together in this book, but it is coming, and it is why I need the sequel now. Pulling another quote from my notes, this one in all caps, “OMG MARS AND BEN AHHHHHH THEY ARE SO CUTE AND SO PERFECT TOGETHER IT HURTS MY HEARTTTTTTTT I LOVE THEM SO MUCH,” dramatic? Maybe. But accurate? Yes.
And Kathleen Lang. My new fave. Ugh, I can’t choose. I just love all these characters so much! But seriously, I love Kathleen. She is so kind, which is not often a trait you see in gangsters. But she is also so badass! She will get the job done if there is a job to be doing. And she and Juliette have the perfect sister-like relationship. Seeing them together made me want to go hug my sister.
Ok, moving on from characters, let’s talk about the writing. So atmospheric, so immersive. I don’t think I usually talk about the actual writing style of a book too much, but I need to with this one. The comparisons Chloe Gong made were so unique, but I always knew exactly what she was talking about. I could literally see the scenes play out in my head, like a movie. Speaking of which, this would make a fantastic movie! The way Chloe Gong described her characters made me feel like a really knew them. She did an amazing job of getting deep within their heads and portraying it all to the reader without ever saying anything outright. This book is actual art.
And that ending! Like I said, I cried. I haven’t cried from a book since I reread Clockwork Princess. Everything came together so perfectly in the end, and just when you think it’s over: surprise! There’s more! I will literally buy anything Chloe Gong writes. Like seriously, I would pay to read her grocery list.
Now, I have hardly anything to complain about with this book because it is utter perfection. But I will say it is very political. I was a little confused at first, but I kept reading, and it all came together very nicely. It is not overly complicated, but if you feel yourself getting a little confused, please stick with it!
I would recommend this too: everyone. I’m not even joking. This is perfect for fans of The Diviners, Romeo and Juliette, fans of YA fantasy, and people who are in the mood to have their hearts ripped out.
I would avoid it if: you absolutely HATE political books, or if you don’t want to read a literal masterpiece.
So that is all for my review of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have already read this book please message me on instagram or somewhere because I desperately need someone to talk to (lol, but seriously).