*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
One monster is dead, and another threatens to push Shanghai into ruins as it balances on a tightrope. Juliette must protect her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir, even if it means working again with Roma to end a new monster in the city. As the city reaches a boiling point, with civil war right on their doorsteps, Roma and Juliette must find a way to work together or face losing everything they’ve ever known.
Our Violent Ends was a disappointing experience. We return to 1920s Shanghai with a much larger focus on the communists and nationalists as the Scarlet Gang and White Flowers struggle to control the city. These Violent Ends revolves around the monster that lurks with the conflict between the Nationalists and Communists is brewing in the background. Our Violent Ends does a complete switch, now the civil war is the main focus with the threat of a new monster lurking in the background. Both novels follow young Juliette and Roma trying to find the truth and help their people before the war breaks them apart.
Sadly, there is just not enough substance to carry this story, clocking at almost 500 pages. Our Violent Ends was dragging itself for no good reason. The progression between the last book and this one should’ve been a sign for me to stop before it got even worse. These Violent Delights ends on a thrilling cliffhanger, the return of a beast, the death of a friend that should spur the characters to keep moving, but the sequel starts after some time has passed and Gong info-dumps everything and moves on. And what she moves onto felt like nothing to me.
Our Violent Ends was everything and nothing at the same time. Juliette is still on edge about Tyler taking her spot as the heir. I enjoyed Tyler as a villain, but at one point, I was rooting for him just to do the damn thing and take her spot because despite Juliette believing she should be the heir, she does nothing even to showcase that she deserves it. We are told she is badass, smart and deserves to be the heir, but it comes up empty for me. I was hoping Roma’s perspective would at least be interesting. He is, rightfully, upset about Juliette, thinking she is responsible for Marshall’s death. And when they’re forced to work together again, of course, he’s conflicted. I honestly could not bring myself to care about these two as lovers or friends, or enemies.
A big issue with this duology overall is that it relies on withholding information as plot twists. If Gong wanted to pack a punch, there should’ve been more consequences to the actions of these characters, which is why this entire duology was so underwhelming to read. A few moments came across as shocking, but I found that I could not care at all after the initial shock, and I realise that it just came out of nowhere.
If there was anything positive about this duology, everything is so interesting except for Juliette and Roma. Whenever the story shifts to follow Tyler, Benedikt, Marshall or Kathleen, it feels like I’m reading a completely different story. I enjoyed myself but then when we returned to our main couple; I just wanted to move on from them. I could not bring myself to feel invested in Roma and Juliette at all.
Our Violent Ends was disappointing, to say the least. I truly wanted the best for this duology, but I found it to be incredibly repetitive. As friends, enemies or lovers, Roma and Juliette’s relationship was utterly unsatisfying. It is frustrating to see an exciting concept squandered, which left me dissatisfied with my reading experience.