Review: This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab
464 pages| Greenwillow Books| YA/speculative fiction/ dystopian SF| Read by Thérèse Plummer
The digest: This Savage Song, unfortunately, is nowhere near as entertaining or high quality as Schwab’s other books. It is let down by its generic plot, poor pacing, and cringe-inducing dialogue.
From the Goodreads page:
“There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.”
What did I enjoy?
- The worldbuilding and monsters here are fantastic and are a lot more unique than you will probably find in other YA fantasy books.
- I specifically enjoyed learning about how the different kinds of monsters are born and operate.
- The human characters really are terrified of these monsters and Schwab went out of her way to make sure we knew it.
What did I not enjoy?
- The plot is ridiculously obvious, and I predicted most of the concluding events before the first one-third of the novel was done.
- Because of this, I never really felt like there was much at stake. This is partly due to the genre but also due to how the story is written –
- The dialogue is cringey in places, but this is par for the course with most YA titles. Not hating on the genre, but more often than not the dialogue in the YA books I have read is of substantially worse quality compared to the ‘adult’ books I read.
- The characters are underdeveloped. And I mean all of the characters – by the end of the novel, we haven’t learnt much at all that we either didn’t already know or couldn’t have guessed about the main cast.
- The pacing is all over the place – the start drags on and on with no action and then when the action does get started it’s over too soon.
- The audiobook was not for me at all. The narrator’s attempts at character voices were just an obvious reminder that I was reading/listening to a YA book.
Conclusion: 2.5/5. If you enjoy Schwab’s works and are a fan of YA, then I’m sure you will probably enjoy this novel a lot more than I did. There are moody characters, a bit of romance, and the story is accessible. For fans of Schwab’s more mature works (or indeed more recent books), I’d really suggest you think twice before committing to this. This Savage Song is nowhere near as good as the Shades of Magic trilogy in any respect: its worldbuilding is less detailed, its characters are less believable, the tone is muted in comparison (at least compared to the SoM finale) etc. etc..
I do not recommend the audiobook to anybody unless you already know that you enjoy the narrator’s other works. Whereas a lot of narrators add to the story they are reading (e.g. Noah Michael Levine for Vicious or Stephen Fry for the Harry Potter series), Thérèse Plummer just seems to… not do that.
Will I be reading this book’s sequel, Our Dark Duet? You know what, I might. But no time soon and definitely will not be listening to the audiobook as it has the same narrator.