14 Hours 4 Mins | Margaret K. McElderry | Historical/Sci-Fi/Horror | 1/26/2021
These Violent Delights is a Historical (sci-fi ?. .horror ?) YA set in the dangerous and dazzling city of Shanghai during the roaring 20s Shanghai. The novel is an homage (read: Not a retelling. Not even a little bit) to Romeo and Juliet and follows rival gang heirs Juliette the cutthroat fierce heir to the Scarlett Gang and Roma the stalworth Russian heir to the White Flowers, as they hunt down the source of a maddening disease sweeping the city
Going in I didn’t know much about Shanghai’s history as an international (read colonized) port. It’s the perfect setting for this dark and mysterious mystery the main characters find themselves in. I’m curious to read more book set during this time period.
As Juliette and Roma work with their respective crews to track down who is behind the madness…I sort of lost the plot. The book seems to move between genres and it was hard to feel grounded. This book is in a distant third person which I think made it harder for me to connect with the main characters let alone the supporting characters.
Juliet is painted as an anti-hero and she owns it. She’s insistent and cruel but it’s never made quite clear where she learned this since she has been away at boarding school. Roma on the other hand is loyal to the gang life but has a heart of gold. He exists as kind of a foil to Juliet and helps keep her rage in check.
Fair warning, this book is by no means a Rome and Juliet retelling, I have no idea why it’s been marketed that way. It has several recognizable elements and allusion to the original story, but this book takes place four years after their initial romance which ended in death—just not their deaths.
Look, this could have easily been standalone. We get a full complete story and then the ending felt tacked on to hype up the next book. I wish publishing would get away from duologies and let more books go solo.
Side Note :
I am curious why Gong decided to Americanize Juliette. Juliette has studied abroad and lived in NYC for the majority of her life and I didn’t fully understand this choice? Why not Britain or France?