In case you missed it, a beautiful book called These Violent Delights by a very young author called Chloe Gong is coming out this year – and the HYPE has been REAL. When you see bloggers like The Quiet Pond and Shut up Shealea screaming about it on Book Twitter, saying it DESTROYED them, you know it’s something you should look forward to.
By whatever gods and goddesses’ will, The Nerd Daily kindly managed to get me an eARC copy to review this book and I positively devoured it. AND, I had the pleasure of joining the Caffeine Book Tour for this lovely novel so that I can share this review with you all again, but this time on Truffle’s Literary Wonders.
You can find the official tour schedule HERE to catch up on all the blog posts and booktube videos that have gone out and expect the ones that are yet to be published. There is some awesome content inspired by the novel that ought to increase the hype further! In case you’re looking for even, I hosted a short interview with Chloe Gong herself which you can find right HERE too 🙂
There is also a GIVEAWAY which is super exciting and you can find all the info for that below after my review.
Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 17 November 2020
Age Group/Genres: Young Adult, Historical
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.
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Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.75/5)
Even though the hype for this book in the community has been pretty intense, I tried to keep myself open-minded especially because I went into this book basically blind. I only knew that it was set in 1920’s Shanghai and there was so much more to this!
In this novel, we are introduced to Juliette Cai, one of the protagonists and the heir to one of 2 gangster families that run Shanghai in the 1920s. A retelling of Romeo and Juliet, it’s natural that we also meet Roma; Juliette’s ex from 4 years ago. They didn’t exactly part ways in the best of terms and their family rivalry (well, serious blood feud) has never been more tense as members of each clan shoot each other on sight if the other breaches their territory.
Before we even meet Juliette or Roma though, we are hit with the sinister scenes of a great monster showing itself and ending lives in Shanghai. Realizing that they both need to work together to try and defeat it, Juliette and Roma team up to solve this mystery of this deadly monster before it takes out their family, clan, or worse, the entire city.
The mystery and the suspense in this book were done spectacularly well. Chloe’s writing is so immersive, yet so easy to read. I flew through this book in a short number of reading sessions and it made me crave more. The plot was rock solid and the pacing was done just slow enough to really drag out the suspense without losing your interest. The plot twists were exactly that, plot twists, that could really get a potent reaction from you and kept you on the edge of your seat.
The world-building of the 1920’s Shanghai was fresh and so clear in my mind because the descriptions were on point. I absolutely loved this setting, particularly the great Asian & LGBTQ+ representation in this book. Every character we saw, we got to know well and they were written with great depth. The writing not only flowed well from one scene to another but was consistent up until the end when the hell breaks loose and you’re gripped to finish the story.
From a personal point of view, the writing was great but as someone that isn’t a fan of Romeo & Juliet, it was hard for me to get into the tension and pent-up feelings Juliette and Roma had for each other. That being said, it added more to the story and I just personally enjoyed the mystery/thriller side of the plot a lot more. I also really like the aspect of politics, which comes into play as the respective gangster families struggle to take over each and their mutual competitors to maintain a monopoly on Shanghai. The political alliances and certain events that happened just enhanced the world-building so much that this didn’t feel fictional at a certain point, and I was convinced that Shanghai really did have blood feuded gangster families and communist enemies.
While Juliette and Roma had plenty of character development through their changing relationship, I wasn’t really seeing as much from side characters. I could really understand their personalities and knew them as unique characters rather than plot-points, but I wished we could’ve seen more from them so that they were a little more central to the story. My favourite character was definitely Juliette’s cousin Kathleen, who had the most interesting and well-rounded backstory. Her relationship with Juliette was so good and it was amazing to see more women supporting each other no matter what.
What resonated the most to me, similar to Romeo and Juliet’s themes are the ideas and themes in this book. It wasn’t just about Roma and Juliette, but it included certain aspects that explored the differences in Eastern and Western society, how that shaped Juliette as someone who spent a lot of her time abroad in the West. It also explored the ties you have with family, the power that comes from it, and the importance of loyalty amongst what’s right and wrong. There were so many topics you could discuss in greater depth, and I personally wanted to see even more of that.
Overall this book was pretty darn fantastic for a debut novel, and I’m genuinely excited for the sequel. The ending was certainly…brutal, and while I wished I had gotten a teensy bit more from this book, it was definitely highly enjoyable and I’d highly recommend it!
If you’ve read These Violent Delights, what did you think? If you haven’t, what are you looking forward to the most?
Until next time,
Chloe Gong is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and international relations. During her breaks, she’s either at home in New Zealand or visiting her many relatives in Shanghai. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear when “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” is chanted into a mirror three times.
Prize: Five (5) hardcover edition of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open to international (INTL)
Ends on 25 November 2020 (Philippine time)