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These Violent Delights av Chloe Gong
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These Violent Delights (utgåvan 2020)

av Chloe Gong (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
261676,276 (3.72)4
Medlem:DebraJC44
Titel:These Violent Delights
Författare:Chloe Gong (Författare)
Info:Margaret K. McElderry Books (2020), 464 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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These Violent Delights av Chloe Gong

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Fans of Romeo and Juliet are really going to like These Violent Delights. As far as retellings go, it’s decent. The best of the story is yet to come in the second book, I think, but the elements of the retelling are all there and nuanced in such a way that give fitting tribute back to the original work. In short, you can tell in the reading of this book that Chloe Gong is a true fan of the original.

I struggled with the chemistry between the two main characters, particularly as we’re going into their story where they already have a history. This is usually the type of romance I enjoy – the burnt out flame where the embers are still hot and there is tension that will most likely not get resolved (except this is Romeo and Juliet, so it probably will get resolved). I thought the characters were interesting in their own rights, but I didn’t feel the chemistry between Roma and Juliette. I did, however, feel loads of chemistry between Marshall and Benedickt. Both were supporting characters who I liked better than the leads – Kathleen Lang, as well, was fantastic when she was given time and a little freedom to do her own thing. I’d love see more of the supporting characters in the sequel.

One of my favorite things about These Violent Delights was the honesty with with Chloe Gong wrote the world. There is sexism and racism. The story confronts colonialism and corruption, and even takes the time to point out the American dystopia overseas. Class privilege is also addressed, and there is one chapter where a trans character mulls on her struggles. These dialogues sometimes made the narrative a bit clunky but I would rather have a bit of a clunky narrative in this case than ignore the issues outright.

As a whole, the writing style was a little slow-paced for my personal tastes. It took me a really long time to get into the first half of the book. Between the multiple POVs and the world building in all those different voices, I felt like the establishment of the situation took a long time. There was action from the beginning, but it took a while for the story to gain the sort of momentum that kept me rooted to reading rather than pushing myself through each chapter.

In that way the pacing threw me as well. Chapters are strikingly different lengths, the shortest being a single sentence and the longer chapters falling at 20 or more pages. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with this. This happens in plenty of good books. For me, it made it a little more difficult to find pauses in the narrative where I could take a break because of the structural inconsistency, making me restless as I read. I cannot emphasize enough that this is a personal thing, but because I know chapter length makes a difference to some readers out there, I’m mentioning it here as well. I think I would have been better prepared if I knew going in to expect longer chapters on the whole – it would have better helped me structure my reading time.

Rating this book is tricky for me because I understand why people love it so much. These Violent Delights takes one of Shakespeare’s most loved plays and puts it in unique setting and pulls together a bunch of interesting characters. But if I’m being honest with myself, I felt that this book suffered from a lot of really common debut flaws, including pacing and structure issues, that really dampened the overall enjoyment of the story. At the end, that puts These Violent Delights on an “it’s good, but it’s not great” level for me as a reader. I am so happy for Gong’s success with this book and I would definitely read the sequel (especially since things are just starting to get good at the end) but I don’t think it’s a groundbreaking work.

Please don’t let these last comments deter you – I am in the minority in this opinion and I have seen so many readers calling These Violent Delights one of the best books of 2020. Definitely pick it up, or at least get Gong on your “Authors to Watch” list if her work interests you. But brace yourself for an uphill battle in the first half of the book, as well as long chapters and clunky character asides. ( )
  Morteana | Jan 25, 2021 |
While falling along the rim of a Romeo and Juliet retelling, this dive into Shanghai during the 1920's allows for so much more than an intriguing tale.

Juliette has spent the last four years studying in the U.S. and returns to take her place as future heir to the Scarlet Gang, who rules Shanghai and is at constant odds with a Russian gang, White Flowers. While she's no stranger to the ruthlessness involved, she's soon faced with more than the already difficult task of gaining respect. Add an ended but once intense relationship with a potential heir to the White Flower gang, and she's got her hands full. But things aren't done there. She needs to fight to keep her status in a very violent and unforgiving world...and that as a monster has crept up into Shanghai and started to kill people with random reason. But monsters aren't Juliette's greatest concern.

The writing in this book is very well done. It is beautifully worded...and sometimes, with a touch of structure which almost reminds that Juliette doesn't have English as her own mother tongue. She's from Shanghai, through and through, but broader and more world-minded thanks to her studies abroad. And she's tough. She knows what being the heir to the gang means, and she has no qualms about taking on this role. So, yes, it's a violent book, and she's not a gentle woman. And yet, she's hard not to like.
Roma, on the other hand, is the softer of the two.

The parallels to the original tale are clear, but there is definitely enough originality to this retelling to keep it more than interesting. Juliette and Roma might have a true-love romance...if the bloodshed, family politics, territory wars, and monsters would allow a sweet romance to occur. But then again, Juliette isn't a sweet romance kind a girl. There's simply too much gore in this book to every qualify as sweet.

The world building is very well done, and this was probably my favorite aspect of the book. It's rich enough to make every scene vivid and draws in enough history to make it feel realistic to the time. I especially appreciated the building up around colonialism...not just for setting purposes, but the author incorporates many of the feelings involved. The mix of various backgrounds and fights to find foothold...or keep foreigners from gaining too much...creates an intriguing historical glimpse alongside the main plot.

It's an interesting read and not just for Romeo and Juliet fans (which....if I'm allowed to admit it...I'm definitely not) Still, I enjoyed this read quite a bit. ( )
  tdrecker | Jan 20, 2021 |
I was attracted to this novel by the story (retelling of Romeo & Juliet) and the setting (1920s Shanghai), and on both counts, this book delivered. The story is definitely rooted in Shakespeare's play, but Roma and Juliette are more mature and more committed to their families' rival business interests in this version. They have a history as lovers, but a future as leaders of their own respective factions in Shanghai's gangs, and they are only reluctantly working together in this book to bring down a monster determined to destroy the entire city (a plague on both your houses, anyone?). Overall, this book made for a refreshing take on a very old story and I particularly loved the vividness of Shanghai in the 20s. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Dec 6, 2020 |
Take a cup of history flavored with Shanghai, China in the 1920s, half a cup of rival gangs with a violent history of killing each other, a quarter cup each of varied foreign intervention and rising Chinese communism. Blend well, then add a dangerous romance and top with a truly horrific monster that seems to appear and disappear at will. Let age nicely for 400+ pages before tossing a couple dandy gotchas, setting you up for a sequel. This describes this book nicely. It's a dandy, not only for the setting, but for how the plot elements blend, confuse and reveal. I'm definitely on board with what comes next. ( )
  sennebec | Nov 19, 2020 |
“You destroy me and then you kiss me. You give me reason to hate you and then you give me reason to love you. Is this a lie or the truth? Is this a ploy or your heart reaching for me?”

To start off, this book is said to be a ‘retelling’ of Romeo and Juliet, but I don’t quite agree with that. It’s more of a ‘based on’ than a ‘retelling’, taking enough elements from the original story so that if you squint you can see it.

Juliette Cai is the heiress of the Scarlet Gang native in Shanghai. Roma Montagov is the heir of the White Flowers, a Russian gang that is their biggest rival in the city. The story takes place in the 1920s, and both gangs are also faced with the rising powers of Communists, Nationalist, and the steady rise of foreigners.

The plot centers around a monster causing havoc in Shanghai, making people go mad and rip out their own throats. The madness affects Scarlets and White Flowers both, and with their rival gangs refusing to spend even a few minutes in the same room together, Roma and Juliette decide to work together themselves to save their city.

Juliette is a tough-as-nails protagonist that spent most of her life growing up in America, wears flapper dresses, and has at least 2-3 weapons on her at any given moment. She faces being a female heir of a gang in Shanghai, fighting her cousin step by step, and betraying her parents as she works with Roma to find answers about the monster. I lover her character and her determination.

Roma works with his wit more than brute force, and his place as heir is in jeopardy. His father keeps a ‘better’ man as his right hand, and sends Roma off to do other work. I would have liked to have seen more of Roma, but his character just didn’t feel too fleshed out.

I would have also liked to have seem more of the secondary characters. Roma’s cousin, Benedikt and his his friend Marshall are more fleshed out that Roma’s character, and they were fun to watch and follow around. Juliette’s cousins, Kathleen and Rosaline don’t make such a strong showing which is a shame because I could see the potential of both being amazing characters.

The story itself is a bit slow and lackluster. I love how it’s set in Shanghai in the 1920s, and beyond the main focus they’re fighting rising communists and foreigners, but the characters repeat themselves often and the plot kind of spins in circles. There is also a lack of relationship between Roma and Juliette, until there isn’t, then it’s gone again.

Overall, it’s an interesting spin on Romeo and Juliet, but I hope the second book gives us a lot more into character development and relationships. ( )
  ReadingBifrost | Nov 13, 2020 |
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