Our Violent Ends
By Chloe Gong
Younger grownup/Simon & Schuster/Paperback/494 pages/$21.94/Purchase right here/Borrow right here
3 out of 5
As befits its title, Our Violent Ends begins with a shootout in the midst of a crowded theatre in Shanghai. From then on, the motion just about by no means stops.
It’s Shanghai-born, New York-based Chloe Gong’s follow-up to her debut novel These Violent Delights (purchase right here, borrow right here), a retelling of Shakespeare’s tragic romance, Romeo And Juliet, set in Twenties Shanghai.
The star-crossed lovers listed here are Roma Montagov, inheritor to the White Flowers Gang, and Juliette Cai, whose father guidelines the rival Scarlet Gang.
Within the first instalment, the couple are estranged after a traumatic incident turns them in opposition to one another, however they work collectively to save lots of town from a monster that spreads a lethal epidemic.
Gong covers plenty of floor within the second e book of the duology. Managed by an unknown pressure, monsters – sure, plural – are terrorising town once more, this time in a extra clever, focused method.
Conflict and unrest simmer as a violent conflict between the nationalists and communists seems to be imminent.
The blood feud between the White Flowers and Scarlets escalates after Juliette seemingly kills considered one of Roma’s finest mates. There are spies, betrayals, faked deaths, actual deaths and scandalous amorous affairs.
A few of these threads are higher dealt with than others. For instance, Tyler, Juliette’s power-hungry cousin who performs an antagonist in each books, has an emotionally wealthy arc. Regardless of being a supporting character, he’s well-drawn and sympathetic.
The monsters, nonetheless, aren’t as compelling. Whereas they felt well-integrated into the plot of the primary e book, this instalment merely has a lot happening that the monsters really feel like an afterthought, overshadowed by different plot strains.
And in a dash to wrap up the story, the latter half of the e book is stacked with twists and divulges – some good, some too handy – to the purpose of distraction. The final stretch of the story may have been informed in a tighter, extra easy method.
What the e book does properly is convey the sense of chaos enveloping Shanghai on the time.
Gong works in historic occasions just like the Shanghai bloodbath of 1927, a violent suppression of communists led by Kuomintang forces supporting Chiang Kai-shek. Via her characters, she highlights how atypical folks grow to be collateral harm in political video games.
However it’s love the duology in the end hinges on. The slow-burn romance between Roma’s mates Marshall and Benedikt lastly goes from subtext to textual content right here. Their climactic second, after they lastly admit they’ve more-than-friendly emotions for one another, could be very satisfying.
As for Roma and Juliette, there is no such thing as a scarcity of confrontations, angst and dramatic declamations about how they may by no means cease loving one another. These are over-the-top, however what readers who cherished the primary e book have been ready for.
That is, in any case, a Romeo And Juliet love story between two youngsters who wield weapons. Subtlety can be an excessive amount of to ask for.
Should you like this, learn: The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (Wednesday Books, 2017, $18.94, purchase right here, borrow right here), one other Romeo And Juliet retelling, this time about two feuding households of travelling performers with magic of their blood.