By Cidnya S.
Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong is the highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller These Violent Delights. As a huge fan of the first installment in the duology, this is a book release that I was incredibly excited for and it delivered; serving romance, drama, and atmosphere. Continuing the saga of a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Gong takes us into a world of rivaling gangs in 1920’s Shanghai with our protagonists Juliette and Roma.
To start off, Gong’s prose are delectable. The ending of her first novel left readers reeling as the love affair between Juliette and Roma was shattered because of their ties to rival gangs the Scarlets and the White Flowers. As someone who has just experienced incredibly difficult (and life altering) heartbreak, reading about Juliette’s pain felt so real. The amount of self-loathing, responsibility, and confusion Juliette experiences is crafted with near perfection.
The mysterious monster of Our Violent Ends is the focus of this novel. There is an element of noir that adds to the atmosphere. As the monster of Shanghai continues poisoning people, neither the Scarlets or the White Flowers are effectively taking care of this danger. Juliette and Roma keep crossing paths and eventually team up to get answers as the gangs continue to squabble. Juliette and her father’s interpersonal drama is heightened. The quips are quick and the emotional toll it weaves on Juliette is seen by her interactions with others. Roma deals more directly with the ramifications of the blood feud. Everything Gong writes feels like a domino effect, intertwining politics and relationships seamlessly to escalate tension.
There are a lot of elements within this second novel that take everything the reader knows about Shakespeare’s version and flips it on it’s head. The familial feud is much more complicated with Gong’s matured writing. There are many political nuances between the ideals of Communism, revolutionaries, and inner gang usurping. These interwoven plots only add to the atmosphere of betrayal that is brewing, especially as readers get to the final act. There are so many unnecessary deaths that it reminds you that Our Violent Ends is, in fact, a tragedy. Both Roma and Juliette have a multitude of traumas that they need to process. The family gangs place expectations on them to be stoic, cold, calculating when they want nothing more than to be happily in love without any external forces keeping them apart. For our protagonists, it really is life or death, love or hatred as their political and social landscape doesn’t allow for them to exist outside of their imposed roles.
Roma and Juliette’s love is written in a way that reminds me that real love is finding someone that makes life better than the one you originally envisioned. Love can make you bolder, brighter, and more explosive than the shackles put on you. The final act of Our Violent Ends is a whirlwind of emotion and pain. The uprising of the workers in Shanghai, the rumblings of a scared country, the intensity of two gangs trying to control a city simmering on the verge of total collapse all culminate in a fast-paced finale filled with urgency and tension. Our Violent Ends is simply impossible to put down. It’s worth every single second of waiting for this sequel. Gong crafted a story so achingly beautiful that I was moved greatly by Roma and Juliette’s love despite all the hardship they endured. If you are looking for your next favorite enemies-to-lovers novel, give Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights & Our Violent Ends a read because you will not be disappointed.
Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong is available on November 16th for purchase at your local independent bookstore or wherever fine books are sold.