By Victoria Schwab
Schwab creates a gritty and bleak backdrop for a re-imagined America in this new Dystopian fantasy duology. The world is broken. Kate Harker resides in Verity, one of the many new sectors of the United States. After failing to acclimate to life as a boarding school drop-out, Kate is determined to win her father, Callum Harker’s affections by proving that she is a Harker by any means necessary. But at what cost? August Flynn doesn’t know who (or what) he is. The mysterious manner of his sudden manifestation doesn’t seem to bother his adoptive father, Henry Flynn, who is the leader of the resistance. While the Flynns attempt to stem the flow of evil that has corrupted their city, Harker is doing his best to start a war with the monsters that plague them. Kate and August are heirs to this conflict, two sides fighting to control the monsters, who appear after acts of violence. As August tries to fight his instincts and Kate tries to see August as her only friend, both teens will decide whether their humanity is a hindrance or a saving grace.
This book is unlike any other Schwab has written before. I am already a huge fan of her adult fantasy series, A Darker Shade of Magic, but this premise is truly unique. Part Dystopian, part urban fantasy, this world involves monsters and the havoc they create. There are three types of monsters, all caused by different traumatic and violent events. August is a Sunai, the rarest form of monster and one that has the closest resemblance to humans. Sunai can use music and song to trap and devour a person’s soul, which also makes them the most dangerous. August is struggling with his identity throughout the book and whether or not he wants to identify with being a monster or if he wants to let his humanity through. Kate is the exact opposite, having been kicked out of every boarding school in the surrounding area due to misconduct, fighting, and arson, she has deemed humanity a waste of time. She desperately wants to reunite with her father after being sent away for her safety during the early days of the war. Little does she know that her father and his motives are not all they seem. I really enjoyed Kate and August’s character development throughout the book. They were both trying to find where they fit into their separate worlds and watching them tackle their own issues together was powerful. Also, there is NO ROMANCE in this book! This is truly a strong friendship, at least for the time being, so if you’re not a fan of insta-love, you’ll have no problem here. The monster system is complex, but still familiar; some monsters may have similarities to vampires or other shadow creatures you’ve read about in other books. This world took time to build and you can really tell by the description of the setting and the history of this newly-imagined United States. This book has already been signed on for a movie adaptation, so stay tuned for that!
You can check out this book in our library here!