Friday 14 July 2017

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Review: Our Dark Duet by V. E. Scwhab

Our Dark Duet by V. E. ScwhabOur Dark Duet by V. E. Scwhab (Bought) - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
From Goodreads.

After finishing This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab, I thought I might as well continue on to it's sequel, Our Dark Duet, as I had already bought a copy. But I'm still filled with the same feeling of disappointment.

The good things first. Victoria Schwab has a great imagination. I loved the new monsters we had in this book, and all the monsters, in both, were pretty awesome. As well as Kate and August narrating Our Dark Duet, Sloan also got his chance to share his story, and woah. He was genuinely scary, as was Alice, the monster created when Kate killed one of her father's men in the last book. What I found to be most scary about Sloan was that he wasn't just some mindless beast. The Corsai fed on human flesh, and so killed to eat, and as awful and violent as they are, they kind of make sense. But the Malchai, and Sloan in particular? What made him scary was the fact that he seemed almost human, in that he was intelligent, he planned, he strategised, and was the embodiment of all the darkest human traits. He relished in pain and fear. He lived for revenge. He killed not just to feed, but because he could, because he enjoyed it. He was more monster than the Corsai.

The idea of what makes a monster is something that runs throughout both books. August, a Sunai, wanted to be human in the first book, wanting to do good, be good. He struggled morally with what he was, how he fed, that he had to bring about death to feed, to stave off more death if he didn't feed. In Our Dark Duet, he has shut off that part of himself. It's not gone, but he thinks it's pointless. He is now Alpha of the Flynn Task Force (FTF), and he needs to command and keep the people alive. He's become who he feels the FTF, the people under the FTF's protection, need - the monster they need. He's not emotionless, but he tries to be. And when it comes to the monsters, he is brutal and violent like we've never seen. But he's not happy. And Kate can see through him, and tells him so.
'"It's not about what you are, August, it's about who, and that stupid, dreaming boy--that wasn't a mistake, or a delusion, or a waste of energy. It was you."' (p308)
And that's the point. Sloan isn't a monster because of what he is, but because of who he is, and who he is, is absolutely terrifying. His chapters were just chilling. August, on the other hand, is really no monster.

Kate has changed since the last book, too. She's stronger, and has more of a moral purpose. At the the end of This Savage Song, she's making her way to Prosperity. In the past six months, she's pretty much become Buffy, a kickass monster hunter, working with some underground kids, who call themselves the Wardens, into keeping Prosperity as monster-free as possible. Prosperity is not yet at the stage Verity is; they don't know about the monsters yet, not exactly. They're still trying to find ways of explaining the murders that are happening. And Kate is the only one killing the monsters because everyone else has buried their head in the sand. But Prosperity has different monsters to Verity. It has what she and the Wardens call Heart Eaters - pretty self-explanatory. But when a new monster appears, one that causes havoc in ways that are truly scary, Kate's got to find a way to kill it. When she discovers it's going to Verity, she makes her way back to her home town.

There's also great diversity in this book, too. Kate, as we know, is deaf in one ear. There's a new Sunai working with the FTF, Soro, who is non-binary. And because of the attack from Sloan in the last book, Isla is unable to speak. And Emily, August's adoptive mother and Flynn's wife, a woman of colour, has more of a role in this book. And the story was really interesting. How were they finally going to deal with Sloan, with Alice, with this new monster that they know nothing about, that they have no idea how to kill. It was a really exciting, edge-of-your-seat story! I really enjoyed it.

But still, I felt let down by all the hype surrounding this series. And these books have brought out a new reaction to hype from me. Normally it's wither agreeing with the hype because I loved it so much, or completely disagreeing because I hated it. But with these books, I had a different reaction. One that I can only describe as a mix or disappointment with confusion. Not because the Monsters of Verity are a bad duology - on the contrary, the books were pretty good, as I've said, and I enjoyed them - but because I've read better.

I'm experiencing feelings of disappointment, because although the books were good, because I've read better, I'm not sure they deserve all the hype they received, and also confusion because, why aren't the other books hyped? Why this duology over them?

I did really enjoyed this duology! They are exciting and dark, they deal with moral questions, there is so much action and violence, and Schwab didn't shy away from hurting her characters. But I've also read books that were more exciting, that had more action and violence, where I actually care more about the characters - because with Our Dark Duet, I found myself caring a lot less about Kate and August than I did with This Savage Song (there was a moment that should have really affected me, but didn't - I knew it was coming because of what Schwab is known for, and I just wasn't bothered.) And yet I'm not sure I know anyone who has read some of the books I'm thinking of.

Perhaps most people just haven't read much urban fantasy? I consider The Monsters of Verity duology to be urban fantasy, even if they're set in a future American territory. So yeah, maybe readers haven't read many books in the same genre. In which case I could recommend so many, and readers are in for such a treat - though they are, for the most part, adult novels. But whether they have or not makes no difference to my reaction. I expected more from this duology, and it really let me down.

As I said, it's not a bad duology, I really enjoyed it, I just didn't enjoy it enough. It wasn't amazing. I think it's time I stopped listening to hype maybe? But maybe not, because people get it right most of the time. But it is much worse being disappointed by a hyped book than it is being disappointed by a book I myself thought I would enjoy, with no hype. Everyone has different opinions, though, I guess. And mine is, if these books weren't hyped, I'd probably enjoy them more, because I wouldn't have been expecting more. Lots of people love these books, though, so read some other reviews before deciding whether or not read these books.

Add to Goodreads

Published: 13th June 2017
Publisher: Titan Books
V. E. Schwab's Website

My other reviews from the series:
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity Book 1)

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  1. I have only read the first book in this duology so I cannot speak for the second book but I also found this disappointing! I loved the premise and the characters and the world but there was a lack of connection and a lack of that spark I desperately craved! Maybe because it's the lack of romance in the first book that didn't create that extra interest? Not sure!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    1. I didn't mind there not being any romance, that was fine for me. It just wasn't as good as others in the genre I've read, but so hyped, it left me feeling disappointed. I have heard from people that they much prefered Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic series, so perhaps I'll have better luck with that :)

  2. Awe! I'm sorry you were disappointed 😔 I just finished This Savage Song and I was utterly blown away!! I suppose it's another case of what strikes each individual as 'phenomenal' verses 'good' and I know thereally have been several misses in the hyped book category for me, but I'm okay with that because not every book is for everyone 😊

    1. I guess that's true. I just also feel like people are missing out on a lot of awesome urban fantasy books? Because is this is being hyped, but the others are unheard of... I think I may need to do a post recommending urban fantasy, haha! But yeah, it's always crappy when a hyped book doesn't live up to your expectations :( But yes, everyone has different tastes, and that's fine :)