In­tense end to mon­strous duol­ogy

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Reads - star2@thes­ Re­view by KEVIN LOH

IF you are fa­mil­iar with Vic­to­ria Sch­wab’s work, you would know that she’s an in­cred­i­bly mas­ter­ful writer, re­gard­less of the genre she writes in.

Sch­wab is the best­selling au­thor of the young adult (YA) fan­tasy se­ries Archived and Shades Of

Magic (as V.E. Sch­wab).

This Sav­age Song (2016), the first book in Sch­wab’s new YA fan­tasy duol­ogy, Mon­sters Of Ver­ity, fo­cuses on­a­world­where­hu­mansand mon­sters ex­ist in the dis­tant fu­ture. I was quite im­pressed with This

Sav­age Song when I read it be­cause Sch­wab in­tro­duces a fas­ci­nat­ing post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world where mon­sters roam among hu­mans liv­ing in the city of Ver­ity, which is still re­cov­er­ing from the de­struc­tion of war.

Told from dual per­spec­tives, This

Sav­age Song ex­plores the idea of a hu­man girl who as­pires to be no­to­ri­ously mon­strous to prove her worth to her ruth­less fa­ther and a Su­nai (one of the three kinds of mon­sters in Ver­ity that feeds on the dark­ness of hu­man souls) boy who is des­per­ate to be any­thing but a mon­ster. Our Dark Duet is the con­clu­sion to the duol­ogy with the events be­gin­ning six months af­ter the end­ing of This Sav­age Song.

We find Kate Harker, the fe­male pro­tag­o­nist, in neigh­bour­ing city Pros­per­ity, where she works with a group known as the War­dens, bat­tling mon­sters and do­ing the whole rene­gade thing that she be­gan in Song. How­ever hard she fights these mon­sters, though, she can’t get rid of her in­ner de­mons and the lone­li­ness she feels hid­den be­hind her bravado.

On the other side, Au­gust Flynn is no longer the op­ti­mistic mon­ster who pines to be hu­man from Song. A lot has changed since he and Kate parted ways. He cur­rently holds a po­si­tion among the ranks of the FTF, a move­ment founded by Au­gust’s fa­ther that aims to de­fend Ver­ity from the mon­sters that lurk in the city’s dark­est depths.

What I liked about the first book was that the obli­ga­tory YA fic­tion ro­mance didn’t take cen­tre stage – so re­fresh­ing in a YA novel!

In­stead, Sch­wab takes the pla­tonic friend­ship in the first book and de­vel­ops it into some­thing more mean­ing­ful than an in­sta-love re­la­tion­ship be­tween the pro­tag­o­nists.

Our Dark Duet be­gins rather too slowly for my lik­ing but things do pick up with the ap­pear­ance of a new mon­ster. This time, it’s one that threat­ens the ex­is­tence of hu­man­ity and could pos­si­bly change the en­tire course of the war be­tween hu­mans and mon­sters.

Chaos and mad­ness en­sue in the con­clu­sion of this duol­ogy, and it is quite ev­i­dent that Sch­wab has a sur­pris­ing twist up her sleeve, as she is known for. If you’ve read her other books like I have, you’ll sad­dle up and try to en­joy the ride!

The haunt­ing and eerie world she builds in Our Dark Duet is sub­lime and well-writ­ten. She paints a pic­ture of a city filled with dark­ness, a place where hu­man­ity is en­gulfed in a shroud of de­spair.

The nar­ra­tive is evoca­tive, per­fectly cap­tur­ing the char­ac­ters’ nu­ances of thoughts. The al­ter­nat­ing fo­cus on Kate, Au­gust, and Sloan adds more depth to the story and makes the flow of the plot more co­he­sive. And Sch­wab’s style fits the dark tone and set­ting of the story.

Sch­wab is ex­cel­lent at writ­ing end­ings judg­ing from her other books I’ve read, and the end­ing of Our Dark Duet – the con­clu­sion of the duol­ogy as a whole – is im­pact­ful and, per­son­ally, I how she wraps things up.

A clear win­ner, this duol­ogy, es­pe­cially Our Dark Duet. I was en­am­oured by the writ­ing and world-build­ing, and the ac­tion scenes are on point: bru­tal, vivid, bor­der­ing on gory.

Af­ter the slow start, the pace picks up and I was com­pletely im­mersed in the story when things started fall­ing into place. The sec­ond half of the book is ex­plo­sive, and I do not use that term lightly here. It is in­tense and just so well done.

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