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BOOK REVIEW – This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

BOOK REVIEW – This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)
by Victoria Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

 So. This Savage Song. Rarely a novel created so many divergent reactions in my feed. If the fact that opinions differ doesn’t strike me as unusual – suffice it to take a look at most romance novels’ pages to see radically different ratings – it still contributed to my confusion before reading because mixing most of them would lead to a hell of an oxymoron.

The world-building is fantastic and original, but generic.
The characters are well-rounded and complex, but rather dull and one-dimensional.
It was unputdownable. It was so fucking boring.
It lacked romance. Thanks god there’s no romance.

I very much enjoyed reading all these interesting and well-thought reviews – and I am not being ironic – yet my questions started piling up with increasing speed : so, what? Would This Savage Song be the first novel from Victoria Schwab that would leave me indifferent? Should I lower my expectations? Would I like, would I like, would I like?

But then I thought : Anna, these reviews aren’t about you. Such a tiny thing, this. So easily forgotten. As much as we start noticing similarities between our tastes and particular reviewers’ over the years, their reviews are never, ever, about ourselves. How could they?

I guess that’s why it baffles me so much when I see people leaving hmm, let’s say, tactless comments on reviews they don’t agree with. Sure, sometimes we can’t change the facts. Does the MC cheat? Is there consent? (because yes, I’m one of these people who think that there’s nothing grey or “blurred” about consent) But most of the words written in a review are opinions and are linked to so many factors : the number of books read in that genre, the personal tastes, the current mood, etc, etc.

We can organize our reviews all we want, use bullet points or dialectical reasoning, who cares, it doesn’t change a thing (or ramble before even talking about the book itself, I know, I know, the irony isn’t left on me).

In the end, sometimes our opinion will only revolve around the chemistry we share with a particular author and her work. This is where I stand when Victoria Schwab is concerned.

Does that mean that I will love every one of her books? Hell no. I only liked Vicious, and This Savage Song awoke the same kind of contradictory feelings in me :

✔ As usual with Victoria Schwab‘s novels, I was fascinated by the concept and the writing managed (without forcing, it seems) to tug at my heartstrings at the most random moments.

✘ ✔ The pacing didn’t suit me during the first 50%, my read was interspersed by at least 10 minutes of rest every few chapters, but once the second half started, the story captivated me so much that I forgot everything that wasn’t August (yes. I am playing favorites) – it started with a whimper, ended with a bang? How fitting.

Verity’s monsters were as disturbing as engrossing to read about, and the darkness lurking enveloped me completely.

“Be careful, parents told their children, be good, or the Corsai will come, but the truth was the Corsai didn’t care if you were careful or good. They swam in darkness and fed on fear, their bodies sick, distended shapes that looked human only if you caught them out of the corner of your eye.”

✘ The somewhat dystopian settings made me think that really, I’m not sure we need to read about a umpteenth version of the decaying United States. I’d rather go somewhere else next time. Really. Please think about it.

✘ ✔ I would say that the characters are pretty generic and trope-ish, because this is what my mind was screaming at first, but I cannot dismiss the fact that they made me care and snort and bite my nails and feel. They left me craving for more. Perhaps Victoria Schwab used an old mold to craft her characters, it doesn’t change the fact that they genuinely interested me and that I, for one, enjoyed their dynamics a lot.

Also, I really have a thing for male leads who sob and whisper. I KNOW. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. But THIS IS WHO I AM. It only works in books, though. Weird how attraction works, ha. In real life I would probably say something along the lines of, [frowns] why the hell are you whispering?! Because of course. Kill Mood Is Me.

“This was the opposite of peace. He felt alive – so alive – but tarnished, his sense screaming and his head a tangle of dark thoughts and feelings and power, and he was drowning and shivering and burning alive.”

► My review, it seems, is everything but helpful. This being said, given the huge fanbase Victoria Schwab has – which she deserves, as far as I’m concerned – I know that my review will hardly change anything in your decision. Read it, don’t read it. One thing is sure : your review will be unique and genuinely interesting to me.

BOOK REVIEW: The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab

BOOK REVIEW: The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria SchwabThe Unbound (The Archived #2)
by Victoria Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

“Open your eyes,” he warns.
I drag them open and find his face inches from mine. “Why?” I growl. “So I can see the truth?”
His smile sharpens. “No,” he says. “So I can watch the life go out of them.”
And then he drives the knife forward into my chest.

Well, well, well…..color me surprised. You see, I received an ARC after finishing book one of this series, so immediately after I chose to read it…before this one. Bad mistake, my dears-Because what happened was that I became so enraptured and awed by that complex, barbaric ARC, that when I finally came back to this precious piece of work, I wasn’t as interested or as in tune as I had been before. But then, about 50% through, the author knocked me upside the head and screamed in my face ‘PAY ATTENTION,’ and Wesley immediately came into focus-brilliant, funny, loveable, and witty Wesley. And we all lived happily ever after.


 photo tumblr_mca2ljHp4U1qe8nwko1_400_zpsiouj4mrt.gif

Nah, I’m screwin’ with ya. But the fact remains, about halfway through the book I started to wake up again and see why I fell in love with this world in the first place. That’s not to say that there weren’t reasons I had issues at the beginning, Ie unnecessary flashbacking (okay, I’m TOTES making that into a word, shut up) and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, high school attendance. See, I actually always love when the main characters go to school in a YA novel. It’s where all the flirting and jealousies and petty fights commence-GUILTY….I’m a YA drama whore-but in this book, I felt it took away from the beauty and magic that we felt in book one. At the beginning of it all, Wes and Mac met during the summer…so I would have liked for it to end during the summer. You know, all that free time to hunt histories and ghosties together? Alas, this was not meant to be, so at some point, I had to push my whiney shit aside and play the hand that was dealt to me. And guess what? When I did that, the story blew wide open.

“It’s all new to me, too, remember?” he says a few minutes later. “I’d never met another Keeper before you. And having you in my life is terrifying and addictive, and I’m not going to lie and tell you it doesn’t make my heart race. It does.” I wonder if he can feel my own pounding pulse through my noise as he tangles his fingers through mine. “But I’m here. No matter what happens with us, I’m here.”

I loved how much Wes showed he cared for Mac in this one. He always has, but there’s something adorable about him being out in the open about it and not caring that she’s trying to keep him at arm’s length. I know people got annoyed by Mac’s secrets and her not just letting Wesley in, but that is the agreement, life, and oath a Keeper takes on when they are welcomed into the Archive. In book one, we saw Mac hide everything from Wes, her family, etc, but that came with the territory, and I totally understood it. But in this one, she only kept secrets when necessary from Wes-she swore, after the life-altering events of book one, that she would never keep Wes in the dark, no matter how painful. And we see her struggle through the entirety of the novel with the burden of keeping him safe, keeping him away from the evil enveloping her, and what to include and not include of her sordid nightmares and illusions that blur between reality and dysfunction.

Music fills my head, strong and steady, and I look down to see Wesley’s hand wrapped around mine, his eyes bleary but open. He must misread the shock and fear in my eyes for the echoes of a nightmare-how I wish this were still a bad dream-because he doesn’t ask what’s wrong. Instead he climbs onto the bed beside me and rolls me in against him, his arms wrapped around my waist.
“I won’t let anyone hurt you,” he whispers sleepily into my hair.

The best part about our darling, Wesley? No matter how odd, how crazy, how off-the-wall weird Mac is acting or her situation is, he still stands by her side and believes everything she says. He is kind, understanding, and doesn’t let anyone walk all over Mackenzie-not even her parents. He would sacrifice himself and his time in a heartbeat…just to spend more time with her or to save her.

Wes hits the table. “You broke into a crime scene without me?
“Be glad, Wes, or we both would have been caught.”
“We’re a team, Mac. You don’t go committing a crime without your partner in crime. Besides, if I’d been with you, we probably wouldn’t have been caught. I could have stood at the door and made wild bird sounds or something when the cops came back. And if we did get caught, our mug shots would look fabulous.”

Probably one of my other favorite things about this series is the action and…hmm…what’s the word…violence? No, for real, though, I think the correct term is bloody reality? I have no clue, ugh. My point is, this author doesn’t shy away from bashing someone’s head in or slicing and dicing and bringing the pain. I love that…if you don’t know me lol.

He’s not real, whispers another voice in my head. You’ve just lost it.
Cracked little head,
echoes Sako.
Broken, whispers Owen.
Weak, adds Agatha.

So, you know, despite the disconnection, for me, in the beginning and the flashbacks (I HATE flashbacks), this book was stellar. Oh yeah, bringing that word back, too. I think my biggest problem with the flashbacks was the fact that they were cute Wes and Mac moments that I would have liked to have lived, myself. Why couldn’t we have just seen that firsthand? That’s all, really. Hardly a big deal-just a personal preference that I’ve always been wonky about. So, I really think this series is great for everyone, with fun characters, a new and original plot, and a love interest that will make you smile from ear to ear. But, don’t let me tell ya, pick it up for yourself…enjoy!


Fight back…
…with everything you have…
…to the very end.

BOOK REVIEW : The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

BOOK REVIEW : The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria SchwabThe Archived (The Archived #1)
by Victoria Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

” What if I mess up? ”
” Oh, you will. You’ll mess up, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll break things. Some you’ll be able to piece together, and others you’ll lose. That’s all a given. But there’s only one thing you have to do for me. ”
” What’s that? ”
” Stay alive enough to mess up again. “

See, I don’t know if that’s because :

a) I actually read a lot of slow-paced-kill-me-now books when I was in college – like this one, the riveting story of a man who decides to never go out of his house anymore because “too much luxury, people!” and intends to describe everything he thinks or sees or does in his freakin house during about 3 months (yes, that’s as horrible as it sounds and yes, I had to read it like, 3 times. My eyes are still hurting – and I don’t care how mind-blowing it’s supposed to be – I read French literature so. damn. better.)

b) I used to be a fantasy fan, aka a reader who used to go through 3 books in a series before –
✶ getting in the middle of the action,
✶ understand who is Tennahra and Kileken exactly (yes, I’m typing randomly on my keypad) and why the King/the Queen/The Witch/*add random character here* are such weirdoes.

But what do I know? In my opinion the beginning isn’t dull or boring. It’s called… watch out, big big words! world-building people. Characterization.

I know, that’s pretty rare out there.

Striking fact# 1 : The writing was impressive

The story is told from two different times : in present day, we follow Mackenzie, the youngest Keeper in the Archive organization (whose purpose is to keep the dead quiet on shelves), when her family moves in the Coronado Hotel whereas other parts let us have a glimpse of the memories of her training which took place years before – before her grandpa died.

Before her baby brother died, jeopardizing all her family, leaving an incurable wound in their heart.

I loved the writing, which contains the kind of magical blissfulness I found in The Raven Boys – we’re struck by the way the objects seem to be brought to life somehow. The only thing we have to do is to let ourselves get lost in these corridors, walking through these doors hidden behind our consciousness, and enjoy the enchanted feeling created by Victoria Schwab’s pen.

I ruined my post-it reserve I had created for… work. Bad me.

” Why? ”
You take the cigarette out, jabbing the air with the unlit tip. “That is the most worthless question in the world. Use your words. Be specific. Why is like bah or moo or that silly sound pigeons make.”

Striking fact# 2 : The story fascinated and enthralled me from the beginning to the end : I was hooked.

I won’t get back to the no, I don’t think the beginning is boring conversation, because hey, I’m pretty sure you saw my point earlier.

So let’s go straight, shall we?

– The world-building is inventive and filled with originality. Of course it is! Seriously, have you ever heard about dead people resting on shelves? Keepers whose job consists of hunting Histories, aka dead who’re not so comfortable on their shelves? Well?

– Now, the romance. You’re worried to find another love at first sight/love overtakes the plot/whatever love does?
Try this : friendship, getting to know each other, light and smile-inducing flirting.

– Here’s a mystery book which actually contains a mystery. I know. I’m excited too. That plot? Thrilling. Intoxicating. Slightly creepy at times. Because murderer people! Trust issues! Bunch of lies!

Oh. My. Am I bad to love that so damn much?

– Also, Histories’ waking up? It gets a strong but awesome zombie vibe, without the lame heroine – yes, you got me! I don’t like zombie books! While here I found it fascinating.

Striking fact# 3 : Can I have more of these characters, pretty please?

As I said earlier, I was amazed by the characterization qualities : you won’t believe me, but we get the impression to really know the characters, who are far from the ghosts we’re sometimes accustomed to. Now tell me, how incredible is that?

” Well, there’s this new girl who just moved in on floor three. Her family re-opening the café. I hear she likes to lie, and hit people.”
“Oh yeah? Well, there’s that strange goth guy, the one who’s always lurking around Five C.”
” Strangely hot in a mysterious way, though, right? “

Multiple choice quiz time!

Mackenzie..…
can’t stop thinking about the eyes of some boy
genuinely thinks before acting
makes me want to throw the book in my chimney with her annoying crappie thoughts
could be a friend of mine – apart from the fact she can’t really have friends, of course, duh.

M. That’s what I call her, this normal, nonexistent me. (…) I can pretend to be M ; I can wear her like a mask. But I can’t be her. I’ll never be.
M wouldn’t see blood-covered boys in her bedroom.
M wouldn’t spend her time scouring her dead brother’s toys for a glimpse of his life.”

Wes….
is the savior everybody was waiting for. Hey, what did you expect? He’s a boy dammit!
likes blueberry cupcakes and … let’s see… Did I smile so big it hurt each time he made an apparition? Absolutely.
wears guyliner. Okay, I know, nobody cares about that, but –

Riiiiiight?
is genuinely interested in Mackenzie, takes her feelings in consideration, and never tries to take the decision out of her.

” It’s the same for me, you know? This is all new to me. And I’m not going anywhere. It takes at least three assassination attempts to scare me off. And even then, if there are baked goods involved, I might come back. “

Roland….
Is an Archive Librarian whose age isn’t really clear and whose life is a mystery and whose choices are full of selflessness and caring and courage, okay?

Why, thank you, can I have the sequel pretty please?

BOOK REVIEW: The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

BOOK REVIEW: The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria SchwabThe Archived (The Archived #1)
by Victoria Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Knowledge is power, but ignorance can be a blessing.

This book…this book took me by surprise. If not for how much the idea of a place where the dead are cataloged and their memories forever embedded in their very being (I think that’s the best way to describe it), then for how much I loved and adored these abilities.

A death is traumatic. Vivid enough to mark any surface, to burn in like light on photo paper.

Imagine a place where the dead sit behind shelves. Where they aren’t really gone. A place where, if word got out, the masses would storm to get only a glimpse of their loved ones shelf-only to make it out to be a shrine of something it really isn’t. The bodies are preserved. They look just as they did before they died-same clothes, same face-peaceful. But what you see isn’t what you get. Say one of these ‘histories’ wakes up. They break out of their shelves, they are disoriented, scared, unsure. And as they begin to slip….they become unpredictable. They lose their shit. They’re frantic. Their pupils begin to slowly seep into their irises until nothing is there but a black orb…and that person is no longer that loved one you once thought they were. They are a walking, talking, violent shell of soul and they aren’t where they are supposed to be-in their shelf. And that’s where the keepers come in.

We leave memories on objects we love and cherish, things we use and wear down.

Ya know, I got creeped out quite a few times. I make it a habit to stay away from books with people that have black eyes or where there are spirits or ghosts-I’ve learned my lesson and I know my limits. But, as I was reading this beautiful story and I began to realize what I had unintentionally gotten myself into, I couldn’t make myself put it down. It was so expertly written, with a soft finesse that leads you from one scenario to the next. Each scene unraveled in a way that made you so eager to continue that you couldn’t help but to become gluttonous with your limited reading time, couldn’t help but to curse when your time wound down and you had to give way to sleep lest you become a ‘history’ yourself the next day-all tired and disoriented and disgruntled. Ultimately, this author knew how to pull me along on a string and paced this so wonderfully that it never became too much-info, action, or otherwise. It was a mystery through and through, and I had so much fun trying to figure out who was letting histories out of their boxes and who was wreaking havoc in the library. I am not ashamed to say that I went in circles on who I thought the villainous traitor was. Because only a trusted someone could have been the possible culprit for wreaking the havoc that rained down on the archive library….right?

“What happened to the humanitarian approach?”
I shrug. “Sometimes it’s just not enough.”
“You are crazy,” he says. “You are a crazy, amazing girl. And you scare the hell out of me.”

The characters. I loooooooved the characters. Schwab painted such a vivid canvas that I could actually see their facial expressions and guess their next move. Mackenzie was such a great main character to follow. She was strong, fierce, determined to do what was right and just for the archive and those who inhabited it. She started to fall for a boy….but didn’t ever let it get in the way of her judgement (Ha, well maybe a little, in a weird way, you’ll see (maybe, if you ever read it, lol)). And then there’s Wes. I just…I really liked this guy. He was sweet, funny, witty, kind, caring, and, most of all, vulnerable. They’ve been through so much so when they finally meet and start to talk and realize things….it was like finding a mirror of their own soul, in a way. And, while he wasn’t in it an overwhelming amount, he actually made me smile so big. He was just so cute and so sweet to Mac! In a way, and this is very very minuscule, he really really reminded me of Augustus Waters-only in his wit, loyalty, and charm. He had THAT type of thing going on. I dunno. I was immediately drawn to his quirky personality in just the same way as I was with Gus. So…for me…there was that.

“Looks like you’ve lost a couple fights of your own,” I say, running my fingers through the air near his hand, not daring to touch. “How did you get that?”
“A stint as a spy.”
A crooked line runs down the back of his hand. “And that?”
“Scuff with a lion.”
Watching Wesley lie is fascinating.
“And that?”
“Caught a piranha bare-handed.”
No matter how absurd the tale, he says it steady and simple, with the ease of truth. A scratch runs along his forearm. “And that?”
“Knife fight in a Paris alley.”
I search his skin for marks, our bodies drawing closer without touching.
“Dove through a window.”
“Icicle.”
“Wolf.”

(Oh, forgot-keepers can’t actually tell anyone that they are, indeed, keepers-no one knows of the archive. Also, when Kenzie, being a keeper, touches something, if there is a memory attached to it, she can see it. It’s so fascinating and I wanted to get it in my review somewhere. Imagine being able to see history through an inanimate objects’ perspective-a wall, a floor with blood on it, a teddy bear a child held…it could SOLVE MANY MYSTERIES…unless someone erased the memory or altered them…. see the dilemma?)

I may fangirl and obsess and flail about on my reviews when I love a guy or a story, but it’s rare you see me actually, out in the open, smiling as I read. Like, Wes and Kenzie just made me smile. In the midst of pandemonium, they brought something real and palpable to the book that made the words jump off the page for me. They still did their jobs. They still had other things going on. But when they were together, it just completed the story in a circumvent way that touched me deeply.

“Don’t look at me like that with those big brown eyes.”
“They’re not just brown,” he says. “They’re hazel. Can’t you see the flecks of gold?”
“Good God, how much time do you spend looking at yourself in the mirror each day?”
“Not enough, Mac. Not enough.” But the laughter is gone from his voice. “You’re clever, trying to distract me with my own good looks, but it won’t work. What’s going on?”

A side character that I also adored? Roland. He trusted. He sacrificed. He taught. He mentored. And he was her friend and savior. I loved him. He really brought the story to another level. He was so sweet, kind, and giving. And, most of all, he was so funny. If you read this and saw the scenarios she walked in on-him reading Lifestyle magazines in a library full of dead people, feet propped up on the desk, wearing red chucks despite being on duty-I loved him. So, it was very fun to read and learn more about him, as well.

What if echoes through my head as I hunt.
What if haunts me through the Narrows.
What if follows me home.

That’s all. Honestly. If you pick it up, the story speaks for itself. The characters speak for themselves. The way it all unwinds….you get the picture. It’s an impressive novel with intricate layers that you should pull back delicately…but you should pull them back, all the same. It is expertly woven with a funny flair for the dramatic concerning certain characters, and I don’t believe anyone would feel they are wasting their time. I certainly cannot wait to read the second. I only hope it’s as compelling as the first.

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