Title: Our Violent Ends
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: Available now
Summary: 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 a mission. 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.
Review: If you haven’t read “These Violent Delights”, please be aware that this review will contain spoilers from Gong’s first novel.
“Our Violent Ends” begins a few weeks after the end of “These Violent Delights” that left Juliette and Roma at odds with each other due to Juliette’s deception of Marshall’s death. The books begins with a literal bang with Roma shooting at Juliette and doesn’t slow down from there. The fast pace of the book (there are some quiet moments) really adds to the tension of the book, specifically the societal tension in Shanghai. There is going to be a clash between the Nationalists, the Communists, and the gangsters, which everyone can see coming, so there is this rush, this urgency to be prepared to fight for your side and to make the first move. Juliette and Roma are definitely caught up in this pressure from society, but they are also feeling pressure from inside their respective families. In this novel, we do spend some more time with both of their families and the interworking dynamics of how they tick as both Tyler (Juliette’s cousin) and Dimitri (Roma’s rival among the White Flowers) become real threats to both Juliette and Roma becoming the heads of their gangs. The monster from the first novel has evolved, so to speak, but I found that the tensions in Shanghai were much scarier. All the different groups vying for power were ruthless in how they obtained it (including Juliette & Roma) and the body count just kept rising because of that. Which, I feel is a point of the novel, because it showed how cruel humans can be towards each other in their quest for power. The terror of the monster in the first novel was not knowing when or where it would strike and how there were really seemed no way to fight it. This time, the terror comes from groups who don’t care who they sacrifice in the name of power and should anyone rise up, as many of the people in Shanghai attempt to do, they will just be eliminated. That thought was very sobering and left a great impact on me.
As for the romance, it was very subtle again, but Juliette and Roma did manage to find some quiet time. We even get the “stuck in the middle of no where” trope, but they don’t have to share a room. Instead they are next door to each other and we have the “unable to sleep, longing for the other” trope. Both of these tropes are some of my favorites so I was definitely into that chapter. It was also a heartbreaking chapter because both Juliette and Roma make note of the tension in Shanghai, the tension between their families, and their desire to get away from it all. Though Juliette and Roma read much older than teenagers, this section reminded me of how young they actually were. It was at that point that I was wondering what Gong’s resolution of their romance would be. I’ve read many Romeo & Juliet adaptations where sometimes both live, sometimes one lives, so I was wondering here what Gong was going to do (Don’t worry, I won’t give it away) because at that point I wanted both of them to run away and live happily ever after.
I really enjoyed “Our Violent Ends” as I feel like it really captured the essence of Romeo & Juliet, but yet was it’s own entire world. Gong added so much detail to her creation of 1920’s Shanghai while using real life events (the April 12 Purge) that really made the story come alive. Juliette’s & Roma’s struggles drew me in, as well as the other characters who enriched Juliette’s and Roma’s lives. This was a wonderful duology that you should pick up and read right now.