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A year ago I read the first book in the Romeo & Juliet retelling by Chloe Gong called These Violent Delights and fell in love with the story. I wanted to see how the duology played out. Mostly if it kept with the Romeo & Juliet similarities until the very end or if it would take a different turn. So, when Our Violent Ends was announced for pre-order, I got it and finally got my hands on it over the weekend. And while I stick with the notion that I’m not doing reviews for the most part at this time, I have to for this book. Or at least share my thoughts on the books. Note there will be spoilers. If you don’t want spoilers, here is what I would rate the book: 4.25 out of 5 stars. It was freaking amazing! I cannot wait to see what else Chloe Gong releases in the future since this was her first series.
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.
- Published: November 16, 2021
- Page Count: 509 pages
- Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
My Thoughts on Our Violent Ends (Spoiler Warning)
This is a Romeo & Juliet retelling through and through. It follows the original plotline for the most part with a more political plot this time instead of a bug-infested monster. Though that monster still makes an appearance. As far as characters, it’s pretty easy to tell who is who from the original tale, but in case you were wondering:
- Roma Montagova = Romeo Montague
- Juliette Cai = Juliet Capulet
- Tyler Cai = Tybalt Capulet
- Marshall Seo = Mercutio (Family friend of Romeo)
- Benedikt Montagova = Benvolio Montague
- Lourens = Friar Laurence
Our Violent Ends takes place four months after the events of These Violent Delights. Roma is furious at Juliette for killing Marshall, even though he’s still alive but in hiding. But of course, she can’t tell him or Tyler would have her killed for her involvement with the White Flower (Montagova’s gang). So, she lies and keeps it a secret even though all she wants is to be with Roma. Of course, they don’t stay apart for long and their parents decide to have them team up again after their gangs have been blackmailed by whoever took the host insects that were supposed to have been released upon the city. And no matter how much Roma might claim he wants to kill Juliette, he can never go through with it. Especially as she saves his life and his sister’s life numerous times.
As I mentioned, this book plays out like Romeo & Juliet. Very similar events happen in this book that are true to the original:
- Tyler is killed in a duel with Roma by Juliette, just as Tybalt is killed by Romeo during a fight. Juliette couldn’t let Tyler kill Roma and knew that her cousin wouldn’t miss the first shot in a Russian style duel as he went all the way to the barrier, while Roma would have to wait until after to take his shot. It was a nice touch and revealed to Roma finally why Juliette did all the things she did. Not to mention Marshall shows up and reveals he was going to shoot Tyler and his men if Juliette hadn’t to prevent Roma from dying.
- Juliette fakes her death (or rather lies that she died to buy them time to escape a city wide purge of the White Flower gang and communists/workers) and it almost results in Roma killing himself, just as Juliet in the original faked her death by putting herself into a death like coma resulting in Romeo killing himself.
- Roma and Juliette get married at Lourens’s place, just as Romeo and Juliet got married by the Friar Laurence. Even though technically it wasn’t a legal wedding like in the original, still they exchange vows and tie rings around each other’s fingers with yarn (a Russian tradition).
- Roma and Juliette die together just as Romeo and Juliet died next to each other in the original. Though Alisa (Roma’s little sister) possibly spots them together alive in the river at the end of the book for a split second, but does not run to confirm if it was really them. However, their bodies were never found so it’s possible they survived the explosion. Since everyone else near the explosion had their bodies remaining. Though with the amount of gasoline and highly flammable vaccine in the area would suggest escape would’ve been impossible for them.
- The conflict between the Scarlett Gang and White Flower dissolves after Roma and Juliette’s death, just as the Capulets and Montagues stop their fued after the death of Romeo and Juliet. Though in this tale it’s the annoucement of their marriage that does that. Something Alisa sent to the papers the morning after their death. Not only that but Lord Cai joins the Nationalist party, while the Montagova father disappears entirely after the purge.
Things that did not belong to the original tale that I was 100% for:
- Marshall and Benedikt once reunited (though it takes until the night of the purge) admit that they are in love with each other. I freaking long those two and I’m glad they got a happily ever after with each other.
- Kathleen finally stops pretending to be her dead sister and takes on her chosen name of Celia. I was waiting for that to happen ever since it was revealed in the previous book that Celia was transgender and had taken on her dead sister’s identity in order to be the gender she identified as. Not only that but she carves her own path in life by leaving the Scarlett Gang to join the workers/communists.
As mentioned, this book is more focused on the conflict between the Foreigners (though they don’t take an active role in the end events), Nationalists, and Communists (or rather the workers who are sick of the corrupted government and gangsters). The Nationalists end up taking over the Scarlett Gang and use them to purge the Communists. The White Flower (the Montagova’s gang) ends up falling into the Communist list due to Dimitri’s involvement with them even though it was only his small group within the gang. Still, it was enough to issue a death warrant for Roma, Benedikt, Marshall, and Alisa. Marshall; however, was saved due to the fact his father is the general for the Nationalists but he chooses Benedikt over family.
Dimitri ends up being the individual who took the host insects (five in total) and transformed his men to be the new monsters along with a Frenchman with the help of Rosalind Lang (Kathleen/Celia’s sister). Rosalind is revealed to be the mole within the Scarlett Gang, I completely forgot that was a thing in the first book and was thrown off initially when it was revealed in the second book. Then it eventually came back to me that Lord Cai had been looking for a mole in These Violent Delights. She thought Dimitri loved her, but he abandons her after the Nationalists take control of the city and he steals all of the vaccine from the Scarlett Gang. Not that I didn’t suspect she was doing something other than work for her father, she was being shady during Our Violent Ends. I just didn’t realize she was a mole in the first book, though it makes some of her actions in that book clearer.
As mentioned, I freaking loved this book. There were a lot of great scenes throughout the book, and I couldn’t put it down. I cannot wait to see what else Chloe Gong releases in the future since this was her first series. I know she’s writing another book from her Twitter posts in the past. I don’t know what that will be about, but whatever it is I’m sure it’s going to be amazing based on the two books she’s released so far.
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