Coming off the high of reading This Savage Song, I was thrilled to get a copy of this from my library. Not to mention the fact that my library had a lovely hardcover edition with a gorgeous cover! I have a permanent grudge against ugly covers, so there is that. The length (500+ pages) was…slightly off-putting. Does any book really need to be that long? Somehow I don’t think so.
Down to the details, then. Spoilers abound in these waters.
Firstly, the way the book was divided into verses was pleasing. It made the length much easier to digest, since one verse is about the equivalent of my reading attention span, if the book is good. It felt neat and tidy to read one section and know I would finish in a few days.
I have many good thoughts about this book. I also have many displeased ones.
I adored This Savage Song for multiple reasons: one huge one being that August, my soft Hufflepuff monster, was fighting so hard throughout most of the book to prevent himself from “going dark.” It was the major key of the theme, his character arc, and even the plot. And then … in Our Dark Duet … that is all trashed. He’s become someone that I really don’t know, just like Kate said. While I completely respect the author’s realization that August couldn’t kill his own brother and remain completely unchanged, undoing all the literal blood, sweat, and tears of This Savage Song was. so. frustrating. Why.
Something I did enjoy was getting to see more of Henry Flynn, August’s father figure. He didn’t get much page time in book one, and I didn’t get a good grip on his character. It was also good to see more of how the FTF worked, since the majority of This Savage Song needed to take place away from the compound.
One of my favorite things about book #1 was that we were able to have a completely platonic friendship between two lead characters of the opposite gender. And then in Our Dark Duet, they had to kiss.
I’m totally up to say that maybe I missed the entire romantic chemistry between them, but it felt completely forced. As platonic buddies, definitely. As a romantic pair …. nothing about them (especially Kate-how-fast-can-I-stab-you-Harker) seemed to fit.
The theme was pretty well displayed in this book, though. It revealed the problems of judging a human soul by one act, instead of taking into account their regret, their future choices, and how that affects someone. It proved to be deadly, because Kate’s shadow, the stain on her soul, produced a copy of herself. Seeing that happen did force the theme to prove itself, which is always really good in a story.
However, Kate. She brings me to another problem. It felt like her character arc was supposed to be a mirror image of August’s in book #1. It felt pathetic. Yes, she was struggling against the monster in her own head. But it had none of the gripping, wrenching conflict of not wanting August to go dark. It really mattered to August whether he lost all his tallies or not. It didn’t seem to matter much to Kate. Sure, losing her mind to violence wouldn’t be ideal. But she didn’t seem to want it very badly.
All in all, I still appreciate the theme, the tension, and the characters in this book. What I don’t appreciate is how trashed the character arcs seem to be.