Book Talk: "Our Violent Ends" by Chloe Gong | November 2021
The perfect companion to Our Violent Ends is, in my humble opinion, the recently released Red (Taylor's Version). This is because both Ms. Chloe Gong and Ms. Taylor Swift use their freakishly incredible writing ability to MAKE ME CRY.
And that's what I'm doing right now. Listening to Taylor croon "Sad Beautiful Tragic" and think about my truest loves, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai, and the beautiful hell Chloe put them through in Our Violent Ends.
Real talk, I've been dying to talk about this book since, like, July. I read it in a fever dream rush of bated breath, nighttime sobs, and unhinged giggles right after finishing a re-read of These Violent Delights. If you're unfamiliar with Chloe's work, the TVD duology is a 1920s Shanghai-set reimagining of Romeo and Juliet feat. the heirs to rival gangs who were rivals to lovers to enemies to...read the books to find out. Roma is my soft cinnamon roll beloved, but Juliette? Oh, she's my angry, violent, dangerous delight. I love that girl with all my heart. I just — and I thought I loved her a lot after These Violent Delights, but the way Chloe dives deeper into her character in Our Violent Ends?
Yeah, let's talk about that book. I tried to pull up my Goodreads review to get some inspiration for this post, and apparently all I did back when I finished the book was scream incoherently so. Not helpful!
I did get this part, though:
The way this book is in conversation with the original material is nothing short of brilliant. Shakespeare himself would have to bow down and thank Chloe Gong for the work she did to improve upon his work. This book is a masterpiece ending to a masterpiece duology and I'm OBSESSED.
The thing that I really loved and admired about Our Violent Ends is how it really did build off of the first book in the duology. In many ways, it turned everything from book 1 on its head, and I was there for the ride.
Because this is not just a sequel but also a series ender, I'm going to avoid giving, well, any plot updates. This review is about the vibes and that's okay because the vibes in this book are absolutely IMPECCABLE.
I just — I'm borderline speechless. When I close my eyes, I am able to easily put myself back into the book. Chloe Gong is a master storyteller, yes, but she's also an incredibly great writer. The atmosphere of this book is so vivid and well-drawn that, though I've never been to Shanghai, I felt like I was there. Every scene played before my eyes like a beautifully-shot movie, and I was an observer along for the ride.
The characters in this book are so perfect. There isn't one I would rewrite in some ways. I even had to love the characters I absolutely abhorred, because they were written so well. I could understand them and the choices they made, because Chloe gave me no choice but to do so.
Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay this book is this: while reading it, I forgot it was a work of fiction. I forgot I was reading words written by a human. I was sucked into the story, experiencing every emotion and moment along with the characters. And then I'd shut my Kindle, take a deep breath, and remember this is a story written by an author, not a real experience I'd been having.
I don't know how else to explain it to you. The characters jump off the page, the atmosphere is rich, the twists and turns took me by surprise every time, the writing is flawless, and the ending is one of the best and most satisfying endings to a book I think I've ever read. Seriously. It's masterful.
If you're interested — Our Violent Ends releases Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, so there's still time to pre-order. And if you still need to read These Violent Delights, which is out now and so delicious, you can buy that, too.