Okay this is no surprise. We all knew I’d love Our Violent Ends. The question was always: how much will I love Our Violent Ends? And the answer friends, is a lot. Keep reading this book review to find out exactly what I love about Our Violent Ends.
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 the warpath. 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
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: torture, whipping
Our Violent Ends merely cements everything I loved about These Violent Delights. Gong is able to transcend the original, to ask questions about the cyclical nature of violence, and to do it all with a lyrical grace and sweeping beauty. In Juliette and Roma’s world, lies end up being disguised as truths to protect the ones we love. Sinking back into Our Violent Ends reminded me not only of how much I love the chaos, angst, and thirst for blood, but also the exquisite depths of longing, love, and sacrifice.
An element which stole my heart in Our Violent Ends was the way it breaks ground for a new path. The ways it showcases that growth is often painful and messy, but that through the fire we have a shot at resurrection. A chance at a future that isn’t measured by skirmishes and retaliation. But how much will we sacrifice for that future? Our Violent Ends is action packed and full of forces at work and odds with each other, stabbing and speculating, playing and pursuing. And amongst all the bullets and knives, are the stories of Juliette and Roma.
Juliette and Roma
The way we hide our pains and hurts deep within us becoming gilded to the world. All the moments that death clings to them, refusing to let go. It drags them back into the dregs, holding fast to elbow length gloves and expensive dress shirts. Juliette and Roma’s story is not only emotional and full of angst, but also tender and passionate. An island adrift between hurricanes being flung against distant shores struggling to remain whole.
And what I love about Gong’s writing is the way our expectations, hopes, dreams are manipulated. How we all know the story of “Romeo and Juliet” for a reason. Yet Gong evokes and wrings out emotions in a way I rarely experience. This utter fleeting and almost terrifying hope in the face of uncertainty and doubt. Our Violent Ends, until the end, manages to pay homage to the elements from the original in subtle and fabulously woven ways, while also transporting readers to an entirely new experience.
To read about vaccine elitism and politics in our post-pandemic world merely made conversations about access and our future even more eerily similar. And yet that added layer added to my enjoyment of Our Violent Ends. It asks us if we can trust those who used to wear our trust on their sleeves. Who once held our secrets to their heart, our whispered dreams fluttering in their grasp. Can we save the ones we love who are caught in webs of their own making? Gong delivers a world which has been festering since colonialism and is a matchbox waiting for a spark.
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If you enjoyed These Violent Delights, I don’t need to tell you that you need to read Our Violent Ends. It delivers everything I loved about the first, and even more thoughtfulness, emotions, and knives. Find Our Violent Ends on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.