Book Review : Our Dark Duet

Book Review : Our Dark DuetOur Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity, #2) by Victoria Schwab
Published by Greenwillow Books on June 13th 2017
Pages: 533
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A New York Times bestseller

The sequel—and conclusion—to Victoria Schwab’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller, This Savage Song.
Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
A gorgeously written dark fantasy from New York Times-bestselling author Victoria Schwab, and one to hand to fans of Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Maggie Stiefvater.

After being somewhat surprised with just how much I liked This Savage Song, the predecessor to this novel, I rushed to purchase Our Dark Duet so I could find out what happened next. To my dismay this sequel just plain did not work for me. I found the entire struggle in Our Dark Duet a step backwards from the previous novel, with villains flat and uninteresting, and the major conflict similarly unexciting.


This Savage Song took a closer look at what makes a monster through the use of its main characters, Kate Harker and August Flynn. Kate was the daughter of essentially the most powerful gangster In power, who literally ran a city. Kate continually sought to be more accepted by her father and the monsters with which he ruled the city. August, on the other hand, was an actual monster, who desperately longed to be human. This emotional conflict within these characters and how they related to one another as outsiders was really interesting.


“And she knew it wasn’t enough—no matter how many monsters she slayed, it wouldn’t undo the one she’d made, wouldn’t erase the red from her soul—but life only moved forward.”


But a lot of this character development groundwork was completely undone in Our Dark Duet. August becomes the spitting image of his older, ruthless brother, Leo, deciding to become a monster to keep humans safe. Kate, on the other hand, stagnates her growth by becoming a monster hunter. Basically, she killed monsters in This Savage Song to get credit with her father and his goonies, but for some reason makes it a personal hobby in Our Dark Duet. I cared even less for the descriptions of her new hacktivist friends that support her in her role. Similarity to August and Kate, whose development is detailed, August’s sister Ilsa is mute, rendering her threat as both the most eccentric and powerful Sunai completely obsolete, which is a true bummer.


I was hopeful that the entity of Alice, a monster who was created by the murder Kate committed in This Savage Song, would jump start more of the theme of what makes a monster. After all, Alice is a spitting image of her creator, Kate, just with monster features, hungers, and abilities. So I was pretty disappointed when Alice proved to be a flat character with basic monster desires, killing, drinking blood, and tormenting humans, especially Kate. There was nothing of note about her. View Spoiler »


Sloan, Kate’s father’s precious monster henchman, is the main villain of this novel and is also flat. He wants the same things that all evil villains want, plus has a new and disturbing obsession with Kate. Sloan even has his monster cronies deliver blonde humans sort of looking like Kate, so he can terrorize and eat them. This was both gross and uncomfortable, since Sloan is basically her dad-in-monster form, and I really hated reading from his perspective. It added nothing. I think Alice would have been a much better main villain, and that her potential to further explore the main themes of the series was completely and utterly wasted, which is the true tragedy of Our Dark Duet, not that of the ending.


“Because she knew a secret: there were two kinds of monsters, the kind that hunted the streets and the kind that lived in your head. She could fight the first, but the second was more dangerous. It was always, always, always a step ahead. It didn’t have teeth or claws, didn’t feed on flesh or blood or hearts. It simply reminded you of what happened when you let people in.”


The other villain, for lack of a better term, in Our Dark Duet is a new monster known as a chaos eater. It causes humans to go insane and kill each other, then feeds on the chaos. For some reason, Kate forms a bond with this creature, not Alice, and is able to withstand the compulsion to kill other people because of main character plot armor and no other reason. I really didn’t get the inclusion of this monster when Alice was right there, or a monster that was a predator to Sunais could have been created instead. All of these random and flat monsters who want nothing more than to eat people or sow chaos was just so boring and uninspired to me.


The ending of Our Dark Duet is not happy. I didn’t mind it, really. I was so detached from the characters and the events of the novel at that point that I couldn’t really care or even muster any sadness for what happened. Instead I was left with a feeling of, “what was it all even for?” Though it made sense to me on a logical level that a novel featured in a dystopian war would not have a truly happy ending, I didn’t feel any closure whatsoever with how Our Dark Duet ended, not even a bittersweet silver lining. I wondered how the same author even wrote the two books in the series.


It also didn’t help matters that I felt that virtually nothing interesting happened for about 90% of the book, only for it to plummet towards a completely unsatisfying ending. I’ve seen other reviewers claiming they were emotionally wrecked by this novel and that they loved it, but it just didn’t work for me on any level, and I will honestly just try to forget all of the missed opportunities and the events of Our Dark Duet when I think of This Savage Song


Book Review : Our Dark Duet - Blogging with Dragons

Posted October 26, 2021 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult

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