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This review is not safe for work.

Before I sat down to write up my thoughts about This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, Jenny brought up dicks in chat and sent us all down a spiral of our best and worst moments experiencing dicks. It was incredibly distracting. The worst part was that it erased the truly phenomenal and high quality intro I had planned for this book from my brain. I was going to be incisive and say intelligent things about monstrosity, and family, and trust, and love. Instead, what I have looping through my brain is "You know, Schwab didn't have dicks in this story when dicks would've made 100% sense scene-wise."

Jenny: I also second Ira's question re: dick placement in Savage Song. where would it have benefited by more dicks?
Ira: Yes, I am still curious. Where would the dicks go?
Jenny: Pretty much any orifice
Renay: at the end
Jenny: ahahahahahahahahahaha
Jenny: ahahaha
Jenny: cause
Jenny: butts
Jenny: I'll see myself out

As established in this Serious Conversation About Literature, the dick location would have been the best at the end of the book in a very specific instance. This is a spoiler, though, so I won't go into more detail about why I really felt like there should have been some full frontal nudity. I can't blame Schwab for this, because it's a YA novel with, like, technical minors, and I don't think the U.S. has wiggle room in their policies for supernatural monster dicks. They probably have to treat them like any other dick in professional published literature.

If you read this book and get to the end, there will be a moment where it makes perfect sense for there to be a supernatural monster dick and there's not. This doesn't affect my rating or anything, it's just something I'm noting that threw me out of an otherwise tense scene. I kept going, "Wait, why does he still have pants? Where's his dick????"

Everyone's so thankful that my thoughtful intro to to this book was wiped away by Jenny bringing up dicks. Please forward your gratitude to [twitter.com profile] readingtheend.

Although I opened with supernatural monster dicks, This Savage Song doesn't have any sort of romance at all that would necessitate third party usage of said dick. It's about a girl who wants to be monstrous enough for her father to respect her (and love, although Kate would maybe try to shiv anyone who suggested she was chasing her father's love) and a boy who is a monster but aches to be human and not have to do monstrous things to simply survive. Kate is tough as nails and lonely as hell, and August, for all his brother Leo emphasizes how deadly he could be, is gentle and just as lonely and isolated due to his circumstances as Kate has made herself due to preference.

This Savage Song examines what makes someone monstrous and comes out cover of This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab pretty firmly about its conceit early on: our nature does not make us who we are, but our choices continually change who we are and how we interact with the world around us. We are all born blank slates, and as we grow we get to choose the paths we take, and choose who to be, and choose between all the shades of gray that exist. But we also have to learn that fact for ourselves: we are not immutable, put fully formed into the world with traits other people press onto us with no consideration for what we want. We can choose something different. We are not our origins.

More interesting to me (predictably) was the relationship Kate had with her father, Callum Harker. Harker is the ruler of the north side of V-City, while August's father rules the south. There's a massive gate that separates them. On Harker's side, he works with the monsters that came into the world, and rules them, and therefore can require people pay him for protection. He's ruthless, cold, and completely emotionally unavailable to Kate. All Kate wants to do is prove she can be as cruel as he is, that she is his daughter: a Harker who is not weak, scared, or in need of anything other than the respect she chases after from Callum.

Ah, Kate. I've been where she is, pining after a father who long ago forgot how to feel anything good for the people he ostensibly should care for. Kate, Kate, Kate, who became so hard so young, and has a lot of work to do to fill the hole that the absence of her parents caused. I loved her so much, and how lucky she was that August was so gentle and considerate and tender and wonderful.

The family structures in this book are another contrast. Kate's family broke apart violently, leaving Kate reaching for parts of herself she's convinced are there because of her father. The parts she finds, though, have nothing to do with him and are completely Kate. August's family was created from the violence that birthed him and his siblings; there's no blood and nothing other than emotion and affection that bind them together. The book isn't shy about how families are fluid and malleable. They're a particular kind of work that everyone has to participate in for them to work properly, and no amount of brute force can create a family with people not willing to do the work, blood relation or not.

Also, This Savage Song is also more gory than I suspected it would be. Apparently multiple, violent, and bloody deaths are A-OK but not supernatural monster dick.

Lady Business: serious lit crit by serious writers.

My final rating of This Savage Song is: DAMMIT SCHWAB.

why not just pull my heart out of my chest and eat it in front of me?


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