Starr and her childhood friend Khalil make their way home from a party. The night takes a tragic turn when Khalil is shot and killed by a police officer. Starr is the only witness. Starr must decide how she wants to handle the situation. How she wants to speak out about what happened and who Khalil is as a person. She learns she has to use her voice, her weapon to make the changes that are necessary.
I have had this book sitting on my physical TBR shelf for a long time. I knew it was going to be a tough read, one that I had to be in the right mindset to read. It was just recently that I decided that I was in the right head space to be able to read this book and take in everything it was presenting.
Starr was a great narrator. I felt like I was close to her. I felt like I could easily understand her and her choices. We are presented with a young woman who is stuck in-between worlds. She lives in an impoverished neighborhood but goes to a wealthy private school. Her parents are making ends meets. They hold a devotion to their neighborhood and culture but also want to keep their children safe.
Starr states multiple times that she has to wear different masks depending on where she is. At her schools he has to be careful of how she speaks. She can’t use certain slang or a certain tone. She doesn’t want to be labeled as one type of person. She is very conscious of how she presents herself in that world.
At home she has to do the same thing. She is careful of what she says and how she acts, trying to not let out anything she talks about at school come out. She knows she has to be a certain person in this neighborhood too. She can’t be fully herself anywhere.
This was a tough part for me to read. She is always oscillating between different forms of herself. Reading about her trying to contain her emotions at school because she doesn’t want to be labeled as the “angry black girl,” was tough. I felt sympathy for her. No one, especially a kid, should have to always be watching themselves so people don’t label them as one way.
One of the things this book does so well is show you that there are so many different sides to a person and story. We have seen this story so many times in the news in the last few years. We always get the same way of interpreting the situation. The media gives us one story and doesn’t gives us the whole picture.
One of the things this book does so well is force to remember that you don’t know anyone in these stories. You don’t know these people and thus you do not get to pass judgement on them. A life is lost and that deserves to be respected. A few pictures do not tell a whole story. A few actions do not determine who a person is. What this book does is remind us that those who have been killed in these tragedies are human, just like anyone else. They deserve the same respect and dignity, period.
I also found the storyline with Hailey interesting. I know people who are similar to her. They make jokes, make comments not thinking about what they are saying. They think that if they don’t “mean” it, it doesn’t matter. They frame their actions through their own lens. They see their comments from their side but refuse to listen to the other side. They refuse to ask if what they said may hurt, refuse to see that they might have to change their thinking.
I thought this storyline was well done. You see Starr try so hard to make exceptions for this girl. You see Starr do all the work and finally realize that she doesn’t need to be the one doing the work. She doesn’t need to keep around a person who is narrow minded and refuses to realize that changing their thinking is needed.
There as nothing in this book that didn’t feel like it didn’t fit. It was a full story, it flowed well. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of this family’s life, watching as they navigate this complicated world. Their bound was strong and great to see. There was no forced happy endings. There was no forced ways of fixing the issues that weren’t realistic. You felt the connection between not only Starr and her family but also the neighborhood.
There nothing that did not work in this book. It was done so well.
I am white. I don’t live this life but I do work with kids who do. I work in an inner city at the schools. I hear these stories from their lips and this book helped me understand them even better. I gave this book five stars because it is one of those books that everyone needs to read.
“….people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice.” (pg. 59)
“It is easier to find some crack than it is to find a good school around here.” (pg. 169)
(This line hit me hard. As someone working in after-school programming in these schools in order to try to help these type of situations this one really did hit hard).
“My bad. I didn’t know shoes determined somebody’s race.” (pg. 235)
“I wish people like them would stop thinking that people like me need saving.” (pg. 246)
“We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us.What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” (One of the main points of this whole book)
“They with a capital T. There’s Them and then there’s Us. Sometimes They look like Us and don’t realize They are Us.” (pg. 343)
Kady and Ezra have escaped the clutches of their pursuers but the war is far from over. Hannah and Nik have things to worry about, like upcoming parties and selling drugs. Then their home is invaded and they are forced to join forces to save themselves and all those they care about.
The second book in a series has a tendency to be the book where little happens. Everything is designed to set up the final battle or climax in the last book. You get character development but usually not too much else. This book did the exact opposite. While it did set up the last book it blew me away with the story.
At first I was hesitant about getting to know two new characters. I wondered what it would be like to have a focus on two characters that I knew nothing about. I thought it would feel like a completely different story and thought it would take away from the story. I was very wrong.
I liked Hannah and Nik so much more than Kady and Ezra. Hannah seems like a spoiled princess but we learn quickly that is hiding a tougher side. Her father trained her to take care of herself and she does not back down easily. I loved how she was able to get on top of the situation. She was not going to let her home be taken down. She fought for her life. She didn’t even let grief cripple her.
Nik is my favorite kind of character. He seems like a low-life criminal but that is only the outside. In fact he is someone who cares with his whole heart. He is stuck in a situation that life gave him. In the end we learn that he is willing to do anything, even kill, to protect those he loves. I adored his character.
I can’t say too much about the plot element that I adored in this because it is a super spoiler but it made this series for me. I was shocked and beyond excited. If you have read any of my other reviews or any posts about my latest novel you may have an idea of what this element is. It was unique, didn’t see it coming and it raised the excitement factor so far.
I had to keep reading the series. I wanted to read something else in between but that end left me needing the next book.
There is a little bit of a feel that death is not permenant in this story. People “die,” but aren’t actually dead. I am oaky with this in some part but when it happens repeatedly you begin to lose the emotional element. I start to not feel sad because I know that the person could come back. I think this twist is fine once but not more than that throughout the course of a story.
I hope that in the last book we learn a little more about Bitech and their background. I am having a hard time understanding why they are doing what they are doing. I can’t quite get what their issue is. I would like a little history to have context behind their decisions.
Again there was nothing that threw me out of the story. It was a solid part of the story. It set up new parts well, the new characters were integrated well and I am excited for the end.
I rated this one 5 stars on Goodreads. That plot point is what pushed that last star. I just loved it so much.
“Recent can wait a long time if it has to.” (pg. 217)
“….when u fight a monster, b careful you don’t become the monster.” (pg. 249)
A cherub who doesn’t fit in finds a new friend who helps him feel at home. When that new friend gets out and causes a stir it is up to the cherub and a higher power to put things right again. In the process they make an addition to paradise that was long overdue.
I am going to deviate from my normal format a bit for this book and only talk about what I loved. This is one of those books that I frequently go back to reading whenever I need a sweet story to make me smile. It is a picture book though it isn’t exactly written in a children’s vocabulary. It is a strong story about the love of pets.
I have had this book for quite awhile and have read it a number of times. It is about a young cherub named Michael who is a little bit of a trouble maker. He lives in paradise but he is not perfect. He is loved by all though.
One day he mentions how much he would like a dog so some of the other angels get him a dog. Now at this time dogs aren’t allowed in paradise. Michael keeps his new best friend a secret for as long as he can but eventually that secret gets out. The story then turns to him saving his friend and making him a part of his home.
I love this book first off because it is about the love for a pet. As an animal lover and someone who has grown up with pets my whole life, I appreciate and adore the message of this book. It centers on the importance of a pets life to a child and to those around them. It is sweet and heartwarming.
We get to see the connection grow between Michael and his dog. We see how important things become to him and he find his purpose. It is a simple story but it is one that hold s strong and pure message.
I also really liked how Heaven is depicted in this story. First they don’t use Catholic or Christian terms for the setting or anyone in the story. I think this helps make the story more universal. While it is clearly a Christian Heaven setting you aren’t hit over the head with the terminology. I think you can appreciate the story even if you don’t hold the same beliefs or have the same belief system.
There is a moment in the story that talks about how when you get up to the Celestial City and walk into the home where the pets are living you hear a distinct call from around you. You instantly recognize the call, whether it is a bark, a meow or a chirp and you know that pet is yours. They hear you and come to you. That moment is what drives this books message home. That pets have meaning and that their souls live on even past death.
If you have ever loved a pet and lost them you will appreciate this book. Even if you don’t hold any Christian beliefs I do believe you can enjoy this story. It is a quick and the pictures are gorgeous.
I have it a 5 star rating on Goodreads because it is uplifting and makes you smile and feel comfort.
I received This Savage Song as part of a subscription box called Owlcrate, that I sometimes subscribe to. The theme of the month was good versus evil. This book fit that theme perfectly.
Victoria Schwab is quickly becoming one of my new favorite authors. She has a unique storytelling ability. I recently finished what is published of her Shades of Magic series (reivew of the first one, Darker Shade of Magic, here). She has a way of looking at things with a fresh view.
This Savage Song explores the idea of what makes someone a monster. Does it have to do with experiences in life or are there outer influences that factor in? The line between what is good and what is evil is a very blurry one and Schwab takes a unique look at the concept.
This Savage Song takes place in a world where violence breeds literal monsters. Every robbery, murder and dark deed creates one of three types of monsters, the Malchai, the Corsai or the Sunai.
The city is divided into two portions, North and South. North City is run by a ruthless man by the name of Harker. He rules by fear and money. Everyone in his portion either pays for his protection or risks being killed by one of the monsters. He also controls some of the monsters, using them as servants or slaves.
The South City is run by Henry Flynn. He does not rule by fear but by strength. He runs an army who patrols the city, looking to take out the monsters and keep people safe in that way. He does not control any of the monsters but he does work with three of them. He has essentially adopted three Sunai (the rarest type of monster because they only are created by a massacre or event that creates mass casualities). He does not use them as servants though, he sees them as children or part of his family.
August is the youngest Sunai that lives with Flynn. He was “born,” from a school massacre. Unlike the Malchai or Corsai, who are all about killing and harming, the Sunai are much more in control of themselves. They are not ruthless killers, only able to harm those who are considered sinners. They are close to human in looks and the ways they think.
Kate is Harker’s daughter. She has been living in the outskirts of the cities for years, for her own protection or so she is told. She wants nothing more than to come home and prove her worth to her father. Her father values only power and strength. Kate sets out to prove her worth and prove that she is not weak to her father.
At school Kate and August meet and quickly create a friendship. They see something in each other, an outcast, just trying to find their place in a world they don’t understand. They form a bond, two people who do not fit the perimeters they are supposed to fit. August is supposed to be a monster, only wanting to harm and rule while Kate is supposed to be a scared human who only wants to survive.
This is what I loved most about this book. Both Kate and August do not fit the molds they are meant to fit. August is a monster, there are certain connotations that come with that title. He is supposed to be blood-thirsty and power hungry, but all August wants is to fit in, to feel human and not to harm others. He does not want to fit that monster stereotype. But to survive he has to feed, he feeds on sinners but even that makes him feel bad.
Kate on the other hand is a human. She should be scared of monsters. She should want to run all the time but she doesn’t. She is dead-set on proving to her father that she is a strong person. She does some dark deeds that could be considered monstrous.
The line between good and evil is a very grey one. There is no one way to define either. No one is fully good or fully evil. There is a part of each in all of us and this story does a great job at exploring that idea. August and Kate both have dark and light sides to them. Together they get to explore what those sides mean and how to live with them. There are times that both are appropriate.
I always love stories that explore this idea. I hate when the antagonist has no redeeming qualities and the protagonist has no flaws. Neither of those is realistic. Both Kate and August has some serious flaws but together they balance each other out. They allow each other to see who they are and they form a bond over this idea.
Now, another aspect of this book that I really liked was that the bond Kate and August create is not a romantic one. They are not falling in love throughout the story. They form a bond of friendship and from other reviews I have seen and watched they are going to go no further than friends.
It is refreshing to read a story (espeically YA) that is not centered on a romance. A girl and a guy can be just friends, they do not always have to fall for one another. A story does not alway have to have romance to make it relatable. Also, two people do not need to be in love to form a strong and unbreakable bond. A friendship, many times, can be stronger than a romantic connection. I love exploring the power of friendship and the tight bond two people can form with one another. I am eager to see how much deeper and stronger their friendship gets in the next book.
If you enjoy stories that look at the line between good and evil or if you enjoy stories of two unlikely people forming a tight friendship you will enjoy this book. I heard it is only going to be a duology, so it will be interesting to see how this all wraps up in the next book.