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Our Violent Ends

Our Violent Ends book


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Book Review

Though the monster that once ravaged Shanghai is gone, so is Juliette’s romantic relationship with blood-feud rival Roma. Roma hates her for murdering his best friend in cold blood—but Juliette’s the only one who knows the truth: that Roma’s friend never actually died. She can’t tell him because her murderous cousin would kill her on the spot if he knew she lied about it. And until Roma sees otherwise, he won’t hesitate to kill Juliette on the spot.

And as if the blood feud between their families wasn’t bad enough, the stage is set for revolution in Shanghai as tensions rise between Communist and Nationalist sympathizers—just as rumors of a new monstrous threat begin to circulate. In light of those rumors, the White Flowers and the Scarlet Gang force Juliette and Roma to work together to prevent the threat from becoming reality.

Plot Summary

It’s less than a year since the events of the last book, These Violent Delights, and Juliette’s monster-killing efforts have only succeeded at making a marginal difference in Shanghai. That’s because the blood feud between the White Flowers and the Scarlet Gang is as sharp as ever, the tensions between the Communists and the Nationalists in Shanghai is reaching its breaking point, and to top it all off, a new monstrous danger threatens to overtake the blood-stained city.

That’s more than enough danger to bring the city to its knees many times over. And, if we’re being quite honest, Juliette is exhausted by all of it—the violence, the killing, the death. She can’t stand it anymore, especially since no one involved in the blood feud has any idea why they started fighting in the first place.

That’s why Roma sees Juliette as a total hypocrite. Sick of death, is she? Then how could she murder his best friend? Just to betray him, to prove her loyalty to the Scarlets?  Roma has nothing left for her but a desire to get his own murderous vengeance.

So when the White Flowers and Scarlet Gang decide to have Roma and Juliette work together to investigate an anonymous blackmailer with ties to this new monster threat, he’s furious. He’ll work with her for now. But mark Roma’s words, the moment their investigation concludes, he’ll have an empty grave ready to host Juliette.

Christian Beliefs

There aren’t any direct references to Christianity explicitly, though we do read a few indirect ones: A marriage uses a Bible. A moment is described akin to the parting of the Red Sea. Someone says, “Heaven rest their souls.” Another character says that she would “burn in hell” for her actions.

Other Belief Systems

Juliette visits a temple with her family where she sees others worshipping idols of various deities. Juliette briefly ponders whether she “had an ill-divining soul.” There’s a brief mention to “Tomb-Sweeping Day,” where family members visit their ancestors. During the festival, a character offers money to those in the afterlife by burning fake money.

A character prays to “a higher power” for another’s safety, and there are other general references to prayer. After two men kiss, one believes that the feeling he gets is “what it meant to be holy.” People discuss whether ghosts exist.

Authority Roles

A generational blood feud stands at the center of Our Violent Ends, and Juliette and Roma are on opposite ends of it. Their families, including parents and relatives, are typically much more invested in the blood feud than the two of them are. As a result, Roma and Juliette often find themselves at odds with their families. Juliette is particularly sick of the violence, and “that’s just the way it is” isn’t a good enough excuse to her for all of the bloodshed she sees.

To Juliette, her parents seem to be too harsh, even for people leading a gang in a gang war. Likewise, Juliette seems too aloof and Western for her parents’ tastes.

But it isn’t just Juliette and Roma who have parental issues. There isn’t a single character who has a positive relationship with their parents. One character’s father is a violent, conquering member of the Nationalists. A pair of siblings also have serious issues with their father.

Profanity & Violence

What with the gang war, monster attacks and political fighting, there’s a lot of violence and death in Our Violent Ends.

We read of decapitated heads impaled on lampposts. Gang members shoot and stab at one another in descriptive, bloody detail. At one point, a crowd of weaponless protestors are mercilessly gunned down. We also read of people who are attacked by controlled insects which cause bitten people to deliriously take “their nails up to their skin” and claw their throats out. A gang burns people alive inside a building, and the screams a character hears are coming from children as they burn to death. Someone is whipped bloody. A girl mentions drugging drinks.

Many swears are additionally used, some in other languages.

The s-word is used once. The most prominent use of a swear is “d–n,” which is read nearly 40 times. “H—” is also used around 25 times. “P-ss” and “b–tard” are also used. God’s name is misused around 30 times, including over 10 times in the form of “g-dd–n” (and occasionally in other languages). Jesus’ name is misused four times. There are occasional references to racism.

We hear occasional references to alcohol, and a couple characters smoke.

Sexual Content

Our protagonists visit or reference places containing sexual content, such as burlesque clubs and brothels. Roma and Juliette spend the night in a “wh-rehouse” when they cannot find another place to stay, and Roma is briefly accosted by women before escaping. We also read of kissing and the beginnings of two people moving into sex. Two homosexual men are prominent characters in the series, and they share a kiss. Kathleen, another prominent character in the series, is transgender.

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Additional Comments

Our Violent Ends is author Chloe Gong’s second book of a duology, preceded by These Violent Delights. Like its preceding book, Our Violent Ends is full of, well, violence. Readers should expect to grow exhausted by all of the death in this book—perhaps an intentional choice by the author to connect us with Juliette, who likewise cannot stand the bloodshed.

As you may be able to tell by the book titles, the series is a retelling on the tale of Romeo and Juliet. Indeed, many of the other characters can be linked directly to Shakespeare’s work simply by pulling up a list of Romeo and Juliet characters and seeing which names sound most similar. But Our Violent Ends fleshes out each character in their new environment, both in their mannerisms as well as their bloody, body-stacked backdrops.

The story provides some positive messages about misguided loyalty and pursuing reconciliation. But parents should remember that this sequel walks in its prequel’s footsteps in terms of violence, foul language and adult situations.

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Review by Kennedy Unthank