Book: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
This was my #RockMyTBR read for December after I swapped Wonder Woman out with it because I wasn’t really feeling it. I was a little unsure about this one because I wasn’t all that keen on This Savage Song, but I’m glad that I decided to finish out this duology, because the second book was so much better than the first one! The pacing was still a little off, the first couple of parts were pretty slow and the second two were racing along at breakneck speed, but the characters were far more fleshed out in this one, the emotional stakes felt higher and I just generally found it more enjoyable. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Kate Harker is a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows -one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons- Kate must face a monster she thought she’d killed, a boy she thought she knew and a demon all her own …
I have to admit right off the bat that I barely remembered any of This Savage Song when I picked up this book! I mean I’ve read 64 books between This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet, so naturally, I don’t remember much of what happened in This Savage Song. Honestly, it didn’t really matter much though, I remembered enough of the end and getting into the story, there had been a six month time jump anyway, so it wasn’t like going into ACOL after AGOS where it picked up from the same point it left off.
The writing, as expected from Victoria Schwab was stunning. The prelude was especially gorgeous, honestly, Victoria Schwab has a way of creating sheer magic with the power of her words and I wish that one day I might be able to write as beautifully as she does. It never feels overdone as well, like in some books, every word choice is simple, but effective and it makes her writing a joy to read. The free verse was an unexpected treat as well, I don’t usually like poetry but I thought it worked so well here.
I loved the titles of the different sections and the way that like in the first book, the book was split into “verses” as well as a “prelude” and an “elegy”.
As I said in the beginning, the pacing was a little off. The first two verses were a little slow and it seemed as if in the last two verses, Schwab almost overcompensated, and they were faster paced than the story could handle. Still it helped that the chapters were relatively short, as this helped stem some of the pacing issues, not completely, but it would have been far worse if the first two verses had had lengthy chapters and been slow paced. It also took far too long for Kate and August to be reunited, given that their dynamic is central to the story.
I didn’t feel like the sections with Kate in Prosperity at the beginning really added much, we don’t get to learn much about Prosperity, Kate’s “friends” kind of just seem like fill in characters, they’re not really developed enough for you to care about them and because you’ve missed the past six months of Kate’s life you don’t really understand why she cares about them so much.
There is some decent diversity in this book, Kate’s new friend Riley from Prosperity is gay, there is a new monster Soro who is non-binary, Kate herself is deaf in one ear, Ilsa is mute and Emily Flynn is black, so it’s not a cast made up of entirely straight, white, cis, ablebodied people.
I enjoyed seeing the character development of both Kate and August in this book, Kate felt somewhat bland in the first book, but this second book embraces all of her flaws and complexities and we really get to see her come into her own character rather than attempting to be a carbon of her father. August’s journey is equally interesting, as he starts off trying to emulate the coldness of his brother Leo and embrace his monstrous side more, so his journey is more about trying to reconnect with the person he once was which was great to see. Both characters felt more raw and real to me in this book and I found myself connecting with them more, which was great.
I didn’t love that Kate and August’s previously platonic friendship from the last book had to be extended into something romantic here-granted it’s only one kiss and doesn’t get explored much further but we have such a dire lack of strictly platonic male/female friends that it felt like a bit of a slap in the face, not to mention unnecessary pandering to shippers to have that kiss in there. Kate and August have never shown any hints of romantic interest in each other and the random kiss just didn’t really fit.
I would have liked Soro to be more developed, I think he had the potential to be a really interesting character but he wasn’t really given the space for development, so he felt kind of flat. I felt the same way about Ilsa, she’s such an interesting character, but I didn’t feel like she was utilised well enough.
I also would have liked a little more world building, we barely get to know anything about Prosperity and even after two books in Verity, I don’t feel like I know it all that well and we know nothing about the other places in the world.
I felt the same way about the Chaos Eater monster, I thought it was a great idea, a monster that takes over people’s brains and makes them do violent things, but we don’t get enough real information about it, how it came to be, why it doesn’t affect Kate in the same way as everyone else. As much as I thought it was a great monster, I would have loved to know more about it. It also seemed incredibly easy to get rid of, for something supposedly so dangerous, I felt like that part of the book was a little rushed. Still, Schwab has proven time and time again that she knows how to write a good villain, between Alice, Sloan and the Chaos Eater, the villains in this book were off the charts!
I loved the action scenes in this book-they were so much better than the last book and the darkness quotient was definitely upped, which I really loved. I particularly loved the climactic fight between Kate and Alice, I thought Schwab did an excellent job with that one.
It was really interesting to see Kate interact with August’s family, I don’t think they did in the last one, so it was nice to see how that dynamic unfolded through the book.
There were quite a few editing errors, I’m wondering if Schwab didn’t have as long to work on this one as some of her others, because there were a couple of easy mistakes in the book in terms of spelling and grammar that I don’t usually find in her books.
The whole Sloan hunting down Kate’s lookalikes thing was incredibly creepy-I realise why Sloan’s POV was necessary in this book, but his was definitely my least favourite.
Some of the climax did feel a little rushed, but it was ultimately satisfying-I did not see that ending coming at all, and I was quite surprised by how emotional it made me. I can totally understand why Schwab chose to end it like that, and a happy ending would not have fitted at all, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a gut punch! I do personally prefer more closed endings, but in this book, I don’t think it would have fitted, so Schwab made the right call.
The Elegy, I felt this time around was somewhat unnecessary, although ending it at the end of Verse 4 would have been brutal, I felt like leaving it on that emotional punch would have been better, but maybe I’m just sadistic like that!
Overall, this was a much better book than This Savage Song and whilst I don’t think the Monsters of Verity duology will ever be my favourite Schwab series, I did enjoy this book a lot more than I was expecting to, so I am really pleased with that!
BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Mony and Kate have a conversation about weapons in the Flynn compound.
My next review, which will be either my last of 2018 or first of 2019 depending on when I finish it, will be of Heather Dixon Wallwork’s The Enchanted Sonata.