Hello everyone I’m alive!! Truly life has been hectic but I simply could not not shout my adoration for one of the best books I’ve ever read that absolutely wrecked me and so I’m here to convince you to let it wreck you too!!
The queen Chloe has come to end me and I am truly deceased by this absolutely heart wrenching masterpiece of a book. Many, many, many, many thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!!
Title // Our Violent Ends
Author // Chloe Gong
Publisher // Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date // November 16 2021
Synopsis // The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.
After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.
Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.
Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.
My Rating: ★★★★★
As I closed the last page of this book, there were tears running down my face, and I never cry at books. I exaggerate and say I do, but truly I can’t remember the last book that made me cry real tears–certainly it wasn’t this year, maybe not last year either. Even These Violent Delights didn’t make me cry, didn’t reduce me to the emotional wreck I was after reading this absolute masterpiece.
It’s been a year since I read These Violent Delights, but from the first page of Our Violent Ends, it was so easy to fall back into the enchanting world that Chloe wrote. This book picks up a few months after the intense climax of the previous book, where we are thrown right back into the struggles the characters are going through, the blood feud that is bloodier than ever before. At first, due to Juliette’s lie at the end of the last book, there is a reversal of Roma and Juliette, where Roma is hard and vengeful, and Juliette is the one filled with guilt.
It was really intriguing to see the characters act so differently at first than they did in the previous book, and to turn the pages to see how they could find their way back to each other after such intense betrayal and deception. It also gave for some incredible character growth and development, and I loved seeing the characters try to grapple with all the lies and deception, and most of all, wondering if they could possibly love each other with all the responsibilities of their respective gangs and the blood feud.
Ever since the first book I’ve been a simp for Roma just as he is a simp for Juliette and that certainly didn’t change here! It broke my heart seeing Roma’s vengeful and twisted actions that he was pushed to, but also it made me love him so much more (what can I say I like my morally grey bois lol), and I loved seeing the hints of the soft boi peak out, still hoping, despite everything, for a better life. Juliette, of course, is still my queen. She was dealing with so much more in this book, particularly as the events of the blood feud and civil unrest escalated drastically, she was forced to really question herself and her place, and she truly has so much character development!
And of course I’m a sucker for Roma and Juliette’s explosive romance! Chloe is truly delivering with the friends to lovers to enemies to lovers to enemies to …? There was so much tension and yearning from their painful mutual history, and their love story was truly at the core of this book, influencing everything, drawing these two back to each other no matter what else happened. There were scenes of them literally attacking each other with words, weapons, kisses, and truly I cannot tell you which of the three I loved more because every moment these two were on the page together I was just fizzling!
The side characters were all fantastic too! I especially loved Benedict and Marshall so much they truly stole every scene they were in! Kathleen too was an absolute favorite, and Rosalind got some incredible development as well! Although most of the book is told from Roma and Juliette’s perspectives, I also loved all the scenes from the side characters, and they truly didn’t feel like side characters, but the heroes of their own stories as well!
The setting of 1920s Shanghai is still done so well and I could truly close my eyes and picture myself in that bustling, glittering city. I felt like I was there smelling the scents, hearing the conversations, climbing on the rooftops and looking down along with the characters. The international multiculturalism is also so immersive and impressively written, with the characters switching with ease between Mandarin, Shanghainese, English, Russian, and French in ways that completely made sense based on with whom and where they were speaking, and woven into the text so perfectly as to add that layer of authenticity without confusing the reader.
This book really fits a plethora of genres, but at heart it felt like such a historical novel, a love letter to Shanghai of the time. The impact of the politics and history of 1920s Shanghai, and even broader China, became increasingly relevant, as the feud between the Scarlet Gang and White Flowers was woven into, then even took a back seat to, the greater real world conflicts in China with Nationalists and Communists leading up to civil war. I had pretty much no knowledge of this history before reading this book, and I was truly gripped. It was a bit confusing to me, but also very interesting and I got the gist of it from this book (and then a wikipedia rabbit hole after), and it really heightened the stakes, so Roma and Juliette weren’t just worried about losing their respect in their gangs, but losing their lives, their families, their city.
The emphasis on the politics definitely gave the book a darker and more serious feel than the first book (which was already dark and serious, mind), with much higher stakes. While the first book was a mystery with Roma and Juliette running around working together to solve the monster, this book felt a bit like a political war epic, with fewer moments of levity and more hard hitting events. Personally, I liked the first book just slightly more, but I would say objectively this book might be even better written than that one, and honestly, they’re both 5 star reads to me anyways.
And that brings me to the… “violent ends.” I had my hopes up because I loved all the characters so much, held on to hope even though the title is literally “our violent ends,” and I knew how Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet ends… The last hundred pages or so I couldn’t stop turning the pages more and more quickly, eyes glued to the page, heart racing, getting more and more stressed each time I caught a reference to a plot point from the disastrous end of Romeo and Juliet. The last quarter of this book was truly a masterpiece, full of easter eggs and similar events to the original play, yet different enough to really establish itself as an incredible story in its own right and keep readers on their toes, unsure where the twists would lead next.
Personally, I think the ending of Romeo and Juliet is stupid (so much miscommunication! if Juliet has just stopped monologuing five minutes earlier none of this would have happened!). The ending of Our Violent Ends, on the other hand, though it made me sob, was truly a masterpiece, a romantic, heart wrenching, dramatic conclusion that everything was building to for two books, that I won’t stop thinking about anytime soon.
Shakespeare could never.
Are you excited to read Our Violent Ends? Did you love These Violent Delights? Are you a Scarlet or a White Flower? I’d love to chat in the comments below ❤