Hello everyone! Sorry that I did not get you the book box last week. It will be here this week.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Synopsis From The Book
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.
Fantasy (?) – Mystery | YA -PW |Gang Wars, Murder and Death, Disease, Hysteria, Assault | Identity, Love, Doubt & Trust, Hope, Friendship
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Alright here we go. I am extremely excited for this book. I like romeo and Juliet stories, and this one takes place in the 1920, which is such a romanticized period. I am soooo hype for this. Let’s go!
Not pictured above is my cover, which is VERY pink. I’m like 100% sure the color combo has made me anticipate this book 10% more, because its just so pretty. (The initial cover is pretty, but I’m a sucker for pink)
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
So we got about halfway through the play with this book. I am interested to see how the double death turns out for the end. For now I will have to wait for the second book with baited breath.
The novel begins with a murder. The Scarlets have a run in with the White Flowers. The result is most of them dying from a monster that makes them rip their throats out.
Juliette has returned from New York after being there for four years. She went there after her family was attacked in their blood feud with the White Roses. She is consolidating her power and goes to meet a man for her father. He is trying to sell a new drug. She refuses and as she goes to leave she meets Roma, the heir to the White Flowers. Roma went to her, in her territory, because of the incident the night before. He tries to convince her and she refuses. They used to be lovers but he betrayed her by being the force behind the explosion that sent her to New York to begin with. That is when a man screams and claws out his neck.
Roma and Juliette begin to investigate on their own terms having their friends assist them, but slowly they are drawn together, being forced to assist each other in a way. They find out that the deaths are cause by insects that imbed themselves in the brain. Roma’s doctor asks for a live patient. Juliette talks to Paul, the son of the man who tried to make a new drug trade with her, and her trails lead to the communist party leader. Roma offers a truce between the families which is denied before Roma’s sister comes down with the insect hysteria. The two agree to help each other in secret.
They start tracking the ways through Juliette’s trail and find Larkspur, the man making the vaccine for the insects. He tells them who is the cause and Juliette kills the communist party leader but nothing changes. Juliette’s cousin Tyler realizes that Juliette is consorting with Roma and calls her traitor. Roma and Juliette realize they love each other but Juliette also knows she is the reason for Roma’s mother’s death. They confront the monster. Juliette is vaccinated by Paul who is Larkspur, and Roma almost dies. Juliette kills both Paul and the monster and saves Roma. They go to his sister to save her only to find her captured by Tyler.
Tyler shoots Marshall, one of Roma’s best friends and Marshall cursed them all. Instead of being called a true traitor, Juliette kills Marshall and Roma is dragged away by Benedikt taking his sister with him. Juliette sends people to find the insects and to study them but a note is found instead. It is revealed that Juliette fake killed Marshall and saved him instead. She gets the note that was found. The novel ends with screams as the insect plague has not ended.
What I Liked:
Juliette; Everyone loves a girl who could kill them seven different ways, in eight seconds. No? Well that’s Juliette and I would not replace her snark, sass, and ferociousness for anything. She’s brilliant, quick and beautiful and I really hope her happy ending is worth it in the end. I love her so much. UGH
Roma; a sweet boy turned killer. He really is terrifying as Juliette is, but in a different way. He never wanted it as much as he pretends he does and I’m frightened to think of what that means for the second book.
Kathleen; she’s great. I’m deeply invested in her story and her relationship with her sister. I really hope that she is happy in the end too.
Rosalind; I feel like she’s a traitor. She’s very jumpy and that makes it seem that way, but she also probably just wants out. I’m more inclined to think she has her hand in two baskets just in case.
Marshall; He’s precious. Must protect. I love good comedy characters when they fit in well and he is spot on for his play counterpart.
Benedikt; He’s sweet but I don’t think I got to know him as well as many of the other characters in the book. I hope we do.
Monsters and Insects; I at first did think it was magic, but I like the grounding of it. It’s still fantastical for the insects but not fantasy. It is a possibility even as a distant one, and I appreciate this. I’m not even sure modern medicine could fight what they’re up against.
Imagery; I really liked the descriptive scenes in the book. The language was flowery and I don’t often talk about the physical words of the book. I really like Chloe Gong’s writing style.
Setting; 1920s. Shanghai. Gangs. Legit it’s everything anyone could ever want for a tense setting for a Romeo and Juliette retelling. I adore this setting plus the “fantastical” elements. The drama and flare of the world was well done in my opinion. I thoroughly felt as if it were the 1920s, and while I have never been to Shanghai, I felt as if I were in another place. I like getting transported places.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Roma; I do wish that he was a bit more of a pacifist. I know that he was in this book, but I think a more stark contrast to Julliette’s rough and sharp, would have been nice. He’s very middle ground, for me, more than a complete opposite of her. Still I’m interested to see where he goes, regardless.
I did hear that there are a lot of R&J lines used in this book. I only saw a few, but I probably need to reread the play so I can spot all the easter eggs.
“A monster does not mourn.“ – pg 388
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