I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on November 17, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, People & Places, Asia, Romance
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An Instant New York Times Bestseller! A BuzzFeed Best Young Adult Book of 2020
Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Serpent & Dove, 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.
Apparently I’m the girl that just doesn’t get along with highly anticipated reads. I originally picked this book up because it sounded like an awesome premise.
A romeo & Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shangai. I’m a massive fan of storytelling set in Asia but man alive, there is just no world building whatsoever. I didn’t feel transported to another time, I didn’t really get a feel for the culture or the way of life. I really needed more in that regard.
The characterisation was weak. I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. Juliet was written as a strong and independent woman but I just found her incredibly winey and childish. As the heir to the Scarlet gang she seemed more interested in maintaining her poker face with Romo. Likewise, he was the same but male. Never felt any affection for either and for a romantic retelling, it felt a bit soulless.
The first couple of hundred pages was a complete info dump and to say I was exceedingly bored was an understatement. The book didn’t need to be as long as it did and a lot of the narrative was endless descriptions and no action.
I would like to thank Hodder and Stoughton for the opportunity to read the arc.
ABOUT CHLOE GONG
Chloe Gong is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, double-majoring in English and International Relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, she now lives at the top of a crumbling, ivory tower in Philadelphia (also known as student housing).
After devouring the entire YA section of her local library, she started writing her own novels at age 13 to keep herself entertained, and has been highly entertained ever since. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear by chanting “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” into a mirror three times. Her debut novel, THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, is being published by Margaret K. McElderry/S&S in 2020 with a sequel to follow in 2021. She is represented by the wonderful Laura Crockett at TriadaUS Literary Agency.