Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the inhabitants pay for his protection. August just wants to be human, as good-hearted as his own father–but his curse is to be what the humans fear. The thin truce that keeps the Harker and Flynn families at peace is crumbling, and an assassination attempt forces Kate and August into a tenuous alliance. But how long will they survive in a city where no one is safe and monsters are real…
So V.E. Schwab has written another wonderfully creative book with an incredibly menacing story; however, it wasn’t enjoyable or addicting in the way I was expecting.
Firstly, I loved how there was a male and female protagonist; the story seemed to flow a lot better because of this and it made everything more interesting. Schwab seamlessly switched between the two and because they are very different characters, the narrative wasn’t confusing at all. They are both living in a broken and divided world, they should be enemies but instead they become allies, possibly even friends. We have Kate Harker, a girl from North City who wants to be a monster like her father and August Flynn, a monster from South City who desperately wants to be human. But things don’t exactly go according to plan.
Of the two, August was definitely the most interesting character for me. August is a Sunai and feeds on souls. They are the rare and mysterious kind of monster and are the only ones that can pass for human – people know very little about them. I loved his struggle throughout the book to act normal and his fight for humanity. Everyone else was telling him to succumb to his monstrous ways but he desperately fights to hold onto what little humanity he has left. It was very interesting seeing humans not being afraid to be monstrous but an actual monster being terrified of succumbing to the darkness. August is one monster that is very misunderstood and I really liked that about him.
I was really hoping to like Kate but I couldn’t. I found her to be very boring and I didn’t enjoy her chapters as much as I did August’s. Even though I didn’t like her, I did feel sorry for her (she probably wouldn’t have liked that though) because she was driven to violence by her father. Her father does not care for her or even wants her; he sends her away multiple times and she has to commit violent acts to get him to notice her. It was all rather sad and another thing she does is imagine how there’s many different Kate’s in an alternate universe, living a very different life to hers. Since she is also the heir to the North City, there’s a certain way she has to present herself. Her dad is cruel and ruthless, so she feels she has to be as well so she doesn’t come off as weak. So she’s also a very misunderstood character who can never really be her true self.
Unfortunately, even though I liked August it wasn’t enough for me to find this story enjoyable or compelling. I quickly became bored and nothing Schwab did could ignite my interest. Even though she created two very solid characters, I just couldn’t connect with them at all. I felt like they should have sparked some sort of emotional connection – they’d certainly given enough reason for this to have happened – but I just didn’t feel anything for them. They felt very flat and boring to me. You’d think a story about a monster wanting to be human would be enthralling but it really wasn’t. The sad truth is that I wasn’t reading it because I wanted to find out what happened, I simply wanted to tick another Schwab book off my list because I want to read all of her books.
Even the other monsters, the Malchai and the Corsai, didn’t seem that interesting. The Malchai feed on blood and the Corsai feed on flesh and bone. There’s even a rhyme for them which was pretty cool and certainly sent shivers down my spine but that was as far as it got. There’s some pretty gruesome and violent scenes but that is to be expected since all of these monsters are born of violent acts which was probably the most interesting aspect of the story. The plot was really boring, not a lot happened. It wasn’t very fast paced and everything seemed to move along rather slowly.
This is definitely not my favourite Schwab book but I have to say that it is very unique and her writing is incredible. While this wasn’t very gripping, I still thought it was a dark and sinister story with all the violence and the monsters. Swab’s a very creative and talented author who deserves way more recognition.