It’s so crazy how I managed to read this book in a mere 6 hours and I already know what I will be talking about for the rest of my life.
Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Blurb (GR): 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.
Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.
- This was so fun to read! – This plot was really interesting and kept you on your toes. Our main characters are Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov, heirs to the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers respectively. They’re both rivals and have a long standing blood feud. A madness causing innocent people to literally rip their throats out starts infecting the city. Juliette and Roma must overcome their past as ex lovers, and their blood feud in order to save their city. This is a superb retelling of Romeo and Juliet. One book I will never forget, and coming from a person who forgets most book plots about 3 months after I read them, this is a pretty bold statement. The action, pacing was perfect and it never felt to slow.
- Deal with very important issues such as colonialism and “white man savior complex” – The time period is 1926 and currently different white powers are trying to take control over Shanghai. We get too see just how these foreign powers are taking advantage of a divided city and twisting everything for their benefit. The thing I like the most though, was how this was portrayed in such a harsh and inhumane manner because that’s exactly what this is. When we read textbooks in school we only get the basic gist of what happened, and in my opinion it’s very downplayed. Like yes colonizers did spread diseases, steal valuable resources but the (American) public education system doesn’t go deeper than that. In this novel we get too really see how this turmoil uprooted entire livelihoods and families, and set into motion an a prejudiced way of thinking that affects us today. Also with the topic of “white man savior complex,” Juliette’s entire race was called uncivilized and it was so messed up how The French, English were trying too take over Shanghai not for power, but also because they genuinely felt like this was right. I feel like These Violent Delights went into colonialism more than my highschool textbooks did and I’m so glad YA books like this are starting to be more hyped up because they offer so much more insight on historical events then what we learn in school.
- Romance – As this is a Romeo and Juliet retelling of course there is romance. This book reminded why I love the idea of star-crossed lovers so much. There was so much tension, angst, misunderstanding, heartbreak, and then more heartbreak and a tiny bit of fluff. Roma’s and Juliette’s dynamic was really cute and I was rooting for them all the way through. It didn’t overthrow the plot but instead created a nice balance.
- Ending! – I WILL NOT SAY ANYTHING EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT MISS CHLOE GONG I KNOW YOU WERE SMIRKING WHEN YOU TYPED OUT THAT ENDING AND THAT SEQUEL BETTER BE COMING OUT SOON!
- Juliette Cai – I just want to start off by saying that I love her so much and she’s one of my comfort characters. There is no Juliette slander allowed in this house!!1!1 But seriously Juliette was such a complex character and reading in her point of view was really interesting. As a reader we get too see her conflict with her duty/love to her gang and then with her own identity and not really fitting anywhere. Juliette is such a hardass not giving anyone a reason to try her and it’s just so satisfying to read about. She gives off such Azula vibes from ATLA but like more mentally stable (just a little though).
- Roma Montagov – Sweet boy. I would give up my left arm just to see him smile. I loved Roma’s character and despite being one of the main protagonists in the book I feel like he’s underrated? He’s very honest with his emotions and also not afraid to show them. He cares a lot of his sister and friends. This was a nice change of pace from the other emotionally constipated and overly angsty male mc’s I have read about in the past. But I also like how despite how “soft” he could be, he isn’t exactly powerless. He also had internal conflict with himself, his feelings with Juliette, his father, and his gang. Also, he’s freaking hilarious. And the fact that he does things in the novel that aren’t meant to be funny, but still is funny makes it even funnier. He is a true chaotic good.
- Side characters: Kathleen, Marshall, and Benedikt were my absolute favorite. Especially Kathleen because her backstory was so unique and really inspiring to read about. Her relationship was Juliette and how trusting they were with each other. Marshall was hilarious and much needed to break up several tension filled bits in the book. He is totally the type to get arrested for tying to steal a stop sign, and in his mugshot he would do the duck face. I rest my case. Benedikt didn’t make much of an impression on me as much of the other characters but I did like him and his interactions with the others.
- If I wasn’t so deathly afraid of needles and also a Muslim, I would get at least 25 different lines tatted on my body. I read the prologue eat least 3 times a day. Words cannot describe how beautiful Chloe Gong’s writing is; I have never read a book with such lyrical prose. It paints Shanghai as this beautiful, dangerous, and alluring city. The way the characters interactions and thoughts were described… please I could write a whole analysis on the writing ALONE.
I think it’s really obvious that this was a five star read for me! I feel so lucky to be able to end the year with such a good book!
It’s so nice to finally be active on WordPress after so long! I finally finished college applications and currently am on winter break so I have a lot of free time (finally) Have you guys read this book before? What did you think? Were you a simp for Juliette as much as I was? Have you thought about reading this book?