There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this one. On one hand it was very intriguing and had a unique premise, but on the other I felt more frustrated than not throughout the entire book. I enjoyed the concept of the monsters spontaneously being created out of the violence from humans, an evil spawns evil type deal, as well as the mob boss set up. Those things were really interesting and kept me hooked into the story, but I felt like too much was left unexplained. Granted it did seem like the monsters themselves didn't know WHY they came to be, or their purpose other than evil, but still even a little bit more world building would have gone a long way. The writing is very lyrical and I felt like at times the focus was much more on making the words flow rather than digging into the world or characters. Some may prefer this, but lyrical typically just isn't my style, I'd rather have a meatier story and character development than poetic type writing.
Speaking of the evil thing, the main monster doesn't want to be evil, or a monster. He wants to be human, and while I think it was supposed to come across as noble and show the polar opposites as the human girl counterpart went out of her way to try and force herself to be evil. I think force is the key word here as the whole thing just seemed forced and honestly rather emo at time. Unfortunately, it just all felt shallow to me and was a large source of my frustration with the book. That being said, despite my normal preference of having romance in books, it was rather refreshing to not have even a hint of it in this one. There were no messy love triangles nor angst as the characters danced around one another. They had more than enough to deal with without any messy teen romance drama, and I appreciated the lack in this case. Could they end up together in future books? Sure, but I'm sure it will feel like more of a natural flow than any instalove.
I realize this review seems mostly negative, but despite all my frustration, I never wanted to put the book down. Everything flowed and kept a steady pace, and I continually wanted to find out what happens next. I am hopeful that the next book in the series will expand on those intriguing parts and delve further into the characters. To be honest I was debating on a 2 or 3 star rating for this book, but in the end I'll go a bit easier and chalk any frustrations to growing pains in this start to an interesting new world.