Our Violent Ends is everything we could wish for in a retelling of Romeo and Juliette. There’s romance, betrayal, intrigue, death, and even monsters.
Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong continues to tell the story of Roma and Juliette. It picks up a few months after the conclusion of the previous book with Juliette and Roma at each other’s throats… again. Roma is left feeling lost and heartbroken after Juliette betrayed him by murdering his best friend, and Juliette is left searching for a way to keep both Roma and herself safe by hiding the truth of what actually happened on that dreadful night. Both of them, however, could never have guessed or prepared for the moment when their fathers tell them that the two of them must work together to find out who has been black mailing the gangs. There is a mysterious blackmailer threatening both gangs with the release of the bugs, and with tensions rising between the nationalists and the communists, Roma and Juliette must put their feelings aside to figure out who this black mailer is before everything they’ve worked toward is destroyed.
During the second book, I felt myself connecting more to the characters then I did while reading the first. They seemed to fall a little flat and felt a bit one-sided the first time around, but with this sequel, I felt as if the characters were actually connecting. Roma and Juliette’s relationship was more complex and emotional because they focused on their physical relationship rather than focusing primarily on the “fairy tale” feelings they had as children.
Roma, who seemed so quick to love before has changed his tune. He’s closed off, angry, and has his sights set only on proving himself to his father. His playful side does shine through, however, even if he doesn’t want anyone to see it, especially Juliette. Juliette on the other hand has probably done the most growing out of all of the characters. Previously, she had been focused on what’s right for the gang, but now she is doing the best she can to protect everyone she loves, even if that means them hating her. She’s strong, independent, but lets her emotions guide her this time rather than her obligations.
The book, however, isn’t all about Roma and Juliette, we also get to learn more about a few of our secondary characters. Benedikt and Marshall are the first two that come to mind. Marshall stays his usual confident and charismatic self, even if he is supposed to be dead, while Benedikt on the other hand is reeling over Marshall’s death. He’s closed off and set on revenge, and that’s all because he’s wrestling with feelings, he didn’t even realize existed before Marshall’s death. We also get to see a bit of Juliette’s cousins who are trying to establish themselves while everything else seems to be falling down around them. Each of the characters have their own story to tell, and I was intrigued every step of the way to find out where they would end.
The story telling, however, is something that gave me pause. It felt as if two stories were being told throughout the book, the history and then the fantasy. A big part of the sequel surrounds the mounting tension between the nationalists and the communists while the other half of the novel chases the mythical monsters terrorizing the city, and unfortunately, they don’t really overlap. I did find myself interested in both storylines though, each involving mystery, scandal, lies, and even death, but I do wish they meshed more seamlessly.
Overall, I found that Our Violent Ends is a delightful retelling of Romeo and Juliette. The characters drive the plot, and the author ties up the loose ends from the previous novel. When I finished the book, I was sad to see the characters go, but glad I was able to go along for the ride.
Our Violent Ends released November 16, 2021.
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
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Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”
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.