Book Review: 'These Violent Delights' by Chloe Gong
A re-imagining of "Romeo and Juliet" taking place in 1926 Shanghai, two gangs are at war. Juliette is a member of the Scarlet Gang. Her first love, Roma, now oversees the White Flowers. When an unknown contagion rears its head in both gangs, Juliette and Roma must come together to stop the deaths or else the entire city will end in ruins.
Wow! I was unsure about a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but this was fantastic. Despite this being a retelling, Gong added original spins to "Romeo and Juliet" that made it an entirely new story. The sci-fi twists were welcomed and kept me intrigued the entire time. Along with the sci-fi spin, the book takes place in Shanghai and features Chinese and Russian characters. The rival gangs each have their own cultural customs and traditions, and I appreciated the representation shown. It didn’t feel forced and helped me connect to "Romeo and Juliet" in ways that I couldn’t before.
There was not as much romance as in the original story, and I preferred this. I appreciated how the characters were older and more mature. While there was some romantic tension between Juliette and Roma, there was more emphasis on them coming together as allies to save their home. There was more to them than just being star-crossed lovers. Juliette definitely had a lot more depth and I loved her independent nature. She was spunky and fierce. I rooted for her the entire time and could see many readers relating to her character.
There was more gore and violence than I expected, but I didn’t find it to be an issue. If you are wary about violence, this might not be the book for you, but I recommend trying it out anyway. The ending was a bit ambiguous, but we can expect a sequel and I truly hope it comes soon!