These Violent Delights vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

If you’ve never heard the name “These Violent Delights”, it is very likely you’ve been living under a rock all this while.(if that’s the case, welcome back! hope you’re enjoying our bright sunny world) Such is the extent to which this book has been hyped. And where there is hype, there is the hype-o-meter! (okay that sounded better in my head)

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)

Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retellings
Publishing Date: 7th November 2020
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Synopsis:
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

I must admit I’m uncharacteristically late to the hype-train with this one. But. What a delightful journey it was. Chloe Gong really did pull all the stops (stops. like train stations. get it??). I’m usually not one for spoiling the suspense and taking away the thunder of our cute little hype-o-meter graphic at the end, but boy, believe me when I say this story was worth every inch of the hype. 

Okay. So what all did I love about this book? Number 1. Gong created such an amazing story and she did it from the real world, a real Shanghai in the early 20th century  – and if that does not scream TALENT I don’t know what does. Speaking of real, the political intrigue in the book was so good? I loved how all the political aspects of westernisation and communism and other brewing tensions were happening in parallel to our story in a way that seemed significant yet did not overshadow the main plot. 

Romajuliette romajuliette romajul– I don’t think there have been better fictional soulmates like ever (take that Shakespeare). I mean, what was there about them not to love?? They actually completed each other. (cheesy, i know) Juliette was everything Roma was not – tough and sharp and badass, like the sharpened edge of a sword. Whereas Roma was… Roma. Sweet and kind and soft, a butterknife to Juliette’s glinting sword. (enough with the knife metaphors already). The childhood best friends to lovers to enemies to lovers to enemies was PERFECTION. The angst!! The yearning!! The secrets!!It was everything. I have never found anything else more frustrating and endearing all at once. Roma and Juliette are my one and only (okay maybe not only but you get the point) OTP from here on. 

Speaking of which. Ben and Marshall. Yet another pair of marshmallows who were meant for each other (how do you do it miss Gong? Spill your secrets). 

What was especially unique about this book is how Gong (can you tell I’m an awe of this woman?) made me feel for every single character. Like, I hated Tyler and Paul with the same passion with which I loved Roma and Juliette and Ben and Marshall. There was no “you know what? I don’t care what happens to this character”, because I did care. I wanted to see the ones I liked live happily ever after, and the ones I hated should die slow and torturous deaths. (moral of the story – never get on my bad side)

click to view spoiler i disliked Paul Dexter from the beginning. It seems fitting that he’d be the villain and all, but really, I’d rather that miserable weasel had no major role in the story at all

THAT END?! What– how– when– why? (yes I seem to have become incapable of forming full sentences at the moment) It had me S H O O K. Which is why I need the sequel right now even though I don’t think I can take the pain anymore (are you listening, Universe? How about you drop a nice shiny copy of OVE in my open hands now?) 

click to view spoiler normally I am not a fan of the resurrection trope – something about bringing supposedly dead people back to life creeps me out –  but gosh I’ve never been happier in my life than when I found out Marshall was not dead (though the synopsis of OVE explicitly states otherwise and I accidentally spoiled myself by reading the synopsis when I was halfway through tvd)

Not surprisingly, These Violent Delights emerges a clear victor in the battle with the hype-o-meter (tough luck hype-y boy, maybe another day) which means that it was worth the hype through and through! 

That’s not all – click here to read April’s review of These Violent Delights!

Earlier posts featuring the hype-o-meter:
The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!
We Hunt The Flame vs the Hype-o-meter // Review
The Inheritance Games vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

Have you read These Violent Delights? (I’m sure you have, remember what I said about the rock?) Would you agree with my hype-o-meter rating? Did you also have a chance to also read Our Violent Ends? (If yes, I am extremely jealous) Let me know in the comments!!

~ Rachel

The Inheritance Games vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

Just yesterday, I came across this new (to me!) thing called a recursive acronym. For those like yesterday-Rachel who have no clue what this official-sounding word means – basically it is an acronym where the first letter is the acronym itself. Ehh sounds over-the-top but the essence is not that complex. For example, GNU is a recursive acronym that stands for GNU’s Not Unix, then we can expand the GNU in the full form again to GNU’s Not Unix, and our new expansion would be GNU’s Not Unix Not Unix and so on till forever. 

Now you must be wondering, “why in the world is Rachel giving us a (barely comprehensible) lesson in literature?? Wasn’t this post supposed to be a review?”. 

Well I do have a reason for talking about all this apart from the fact that it is an interesting concept, and that is – similar ~vibes~. With the book I’m about to review. Traps upon traps, riddles upon riddles – yes, the gist of The Inheritance Games is pretty similar to that of a recursive acronym.

With all that done, let’s get started with today’s showdown, (know more about it this blog series here) which is The Inheritance Games, a book that has recently risen to popularity due to its upcoming sequel, against our hype-o-meter! 

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, #1)

Title: The Inheritance Games
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Contemporary
Synopsis:
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

If yes is no and once is never, then how much exactly did I enjoy this book? Now that’s a difficult one, because this was one of those books I am extremely conflicted about. If I had to rate it purely on the basis of enjoyment – an easy 4 – 4.5 stars. But as a reviewer I do have to think a tiny bit about other factors too, and in this case, let us just say these factors were not in the book’s favour. Let’s break it down.

“Everything’s a game, Avery Grambs. The only thing we get to decide in this life is if we play to win.”

The narration was first person. Probably no big deal for most of you, but believe me when I say my relationship with first person POV has not exactly been the best and mostly books with such narrations leave me mildly annoyed (pfft who am I kidding? It’s more like throwing-things-and-banging-doors-and-hitting-my-head-against-a-wall-repeatedly level annoyed.) My aggressive behavioural actions aside, The Inheritance Games was a surprise in this aspect – a pleasant one at that. I actually enjoyed Avery’s POV, so conclusion : she must have been a really good character. Yes, that she was.

In the very opening scene we are told how much of a genius Avery is when she aces an impossible physics test and is lowkey accused of cheating by her principal (which. not cool.) and is confident enough to promise the same score in a re-test. And she also beats a homeless man, who is apparently a brilliant chess player, at chess. After a few scenes we see her answer an impossible-sounding riddle asked by a drunk teenager without batting an eyelid (the riddle: ‘If yes is no and once is never, then how many sides does a triangle have?’). Upto this point, cool. 

The story till here is nicely constructed, all the events well thought out – a normal teenager who was living her life with her half-sister or in her car, attending school on a scholarship gets good news in the form of a snobby boy in a suit who informs her that his rich grandfather has left her his entire fortune of billions. Too easy, but I’ll take it. 

Things went downhill from here. I do not know whether I was just in a very critical mood, but it seemed to me that the author had simply lost interest in creating an intriguing mystery, and decided to just let Avery have a fortunate stroke of serendipity. Everything – the clues and riddles were extremely amateur, and anyone with a little common sense could have easily figured them out – let alone our supposedly brilliant protagonist working with four impossibly-smart brothers. 

“He left you the fortune, Avery, and all he left us is you.”

And man, the stakes?? It was established in the beginning that not much could be done to challenge Avery’s inheritance, so what was the point of the whole solving-riddles thing? I went in expecting a thrilling round of who-solves-the-mystery-first-gets-the-money but apparently my expectations were too high.

Yet, I would not say I disliked this book because, honestly, I did not. While the big reveals were okay-ish (for a mystery, the gasp factor was shockingly low.), it was the little moments that got to me. Those moments when we got away from the main plot for a while (like Avery’s initial disbelief of the house having a bowling alley, later the scene when her stylist were working on her with Libby snorting in the corner) made me giggle and were enjoyable, so that’s a plus. 

And then of course there was all the family drama, the sibling rivalry (4x!) and all the fun moments between Avery and each of the brothers so yes, while the book could have been better in a lot of aspects, it was goood. I’m excited for the sequel!

It was a tough fight with the hype-o-meter, but The Inheritance Games emerged as a solid, so there’s that. Not quite worth the hype, but certainly worth a try. Click here to read April’s review!

Have you read The Inheritance Games? What would you give it on the hype-o-meter? Do you have The Hawthorne Legacy on your radar? Let me know in the comments!