Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Genre: Fantasy
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: June 7, 2016

For the first review on the new, I wanted to start positive. Granted, I rarely have nothing but negative things to say about a book, but there are the books I was fine with, the books I liked, and then there are the books I want to hand all my friends a copy of and demand they read it immediately. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab is such a book.

The story opens on a young woman named Kate Harker. When I started reading, I only knew this was a world with monsters that looked like people. I didn’t read the back cover far enough to know who or what Kate was. Chapter one didn’t fully spell it out, either, and I loved the book for that. Kate is intriguing, backstory or no. All we know about her is that from page one, she’s desperate enough to go home that she’s willing to start a fire at her school, even though she admits she doesn’t have anything against the school, its students, or the staff. In fact, she expresses frustration that they’re all so forgiving of the lesser crimes she’s committed in an attempt to get herself kicked out earlier. Kate’s narrative pulls the reader right in, and with few exceptions, the worldbuilding comes naturally. There’s once or twice we get a short history lesson, but I was okay with that. The scenes did not drag the overall story down.

I also loved the originality and limitations of the monsters in this world, which only come in three types. This isn’t a setting with dozens of different fantasy creatures wandering all over the place, integrated into everyday society, which is often the case in novels where the muggles are aware magic and/or monsters exist. In This Savage Song, you have your three known types and people are terrified of them, fully dependent on a few key figures to keep them safe. Speaking of which…let’s talk characters.

This was a dual-POV book, and I loved the fact that neither character felt like they existed in service of the other. August and Kate both had their own unique stories and goals. Their two threads eventually intersect in significant ways, but they ultimately must each resolve their own problems. This is difficult to pull off. And can I say how awesome it was that Victoria Schwab didn’t go for an instant romance here? It would have been super-easy to create tension by making these two natural enemies fall for each other at first sight. Especially since they don’t know each other’s identities when they first meet. But the book avoided that, and it made the story feel all the more real and the characters all the more human. Even the one who technically isn’t. (The story doesn’t gloss over this, either. August’s monster instincts often kick in at the worst possible times, and learning to accept and deal with them is a major, fascinating part of his storyline.)

Story-wise, I never knew exactly where the plot was going. But I never got the impression information was being hidden from me, either. The reader knows what Kate and August know. No character has to do personality contortions or pointlessly hide information or hold the idiot ball for the story to work.

There was so much happening in the final chapters, I was mentally bracing myself for a major cliffhanger–some obvious point where a longer book had clearly been cut in two to get me to pay double for the full story. Nope. The story does reach a natural conclusion. There’s a tease at the end, but sure, I’ll take a tease. I want to come back to this world and I’m looking forward to doing so.

Rating: 5/5

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