Hi friends! This was the book I received for my December OwlCrate Box! This is a new addition to my book box subscriptions, but I love it so far! Each month you get a new title (often they’re signed or have unique covers -I loved this cover!) along with some really cute goodies and things from small artists. While I’m not an OwlCrate rep (I wish!), I would highly recommend checking them out.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
These Violent Delights is Chloe Gong’s debut novel, and also a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai. Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai are heirs of Shanghai’s most notorious rival gangs. They’re also former lovers. When a river monster is spotted and a mysterious illness begin spreading among the streets of Shanghai, they must set aside their differences and work together to protect the ones they love.
I’ve been putting off this review for weeks because literally this book is just so blah. Everything felt so flat and one-dimensional and seemed only to exist to serve the plot. It always disappoints me to see a cool and unique idea executed blandly, but that’s essentially what this was. This is probably going to be a speed review because I just want to get past this review and get more excited about what I read, haha.
The best part of this book was the concept, most certainly. I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, of course, and appreciate the adaptation and spins on the original work that Gong provided. The idea is unique and I appreciated the different setting and inclusion of a different culture as well. I didn’t mind the ending and the mystery explored within the novel was generally interesting to follow, and I liked Roma and the friendships developed within the White Flowers.
I also greatly appreciate the fact that although this book is part of a series, it had a fun and contained plot within the larger context of the series. I didn’t feel like I was being baited into buying a sequel which is a feeling I get a lot these days, and while the novel definitely sets up subsequent books, the loose ends from this plot were tied up well.
This is the first book I’ve read in a while that’s put me into a review slump. Seriously. I just have no desire to talk about it. I think it was boring and not very well executed and I get tired thinking about it. The characters were flat and not super likeable. I didn’t really care what happened to them. I wish more of the culture we were initially promised was explored and integrated into the story. I felt Shanghai served as more of a flat backdrop and different, quirky location for a retelling as opposed to it serving a purpose and enriching the world-building of the story. It felt like a missed opportunity.
I didn’t buy into the relationship between Roma and Juliette. It felt rushed, ingenuine, and flat. I didn’t mind Roma as a main character, but I found Juliette to be infuriating and highly unlikeable. Her relationship development with Roma seemed repetitive and was boring to read. All in all, this book just took me a long time to read and didn’t have the payoff I was hoping for.
Rating & Final Thoughts
Unfortunately, I’m going to rate These Violent Delights 2.5 out of 5 stars. I won’t be continuing with this series, but I can understand why people enjoy it. If you’re a big fan of retellings or the enemies-to-lovers trope, I’d maybe check this one out. It just didn’t do much for me.
Buy These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.