We had so much fun discussing These Violent Delights at our recent virtual YA book club. Instead of just telling you our thoughts, we’re going to mention a few of our discussion questions and reactions from the group.
Have you read Gong’s debut YA book? Let us know your answers to our questions in the comments!
Juliette Cai, heir to the Scarlet gang in Shanghai, China, has just returned from New York City. Right after she returns, members of the Scarlets and their rival gang, the White Flowers, bodies are found on the banks of Huangpu River. Except, these gang members killed themselves.
When more incidents like this keep occurring, Juliette realizes that something is causing the residents of Shanghai to go mad. But, she can’t solve this case alone. Roma Montagov, heir to the White Flowers and Juliette’s ex-boyfriend, wants to help. He thinks that Juliette needs him…and he’s right. But, Juliette doesn’t want to get involved with the guy who broke her heart.
Unfortunately, there seems like no other way to end the violence than utilizing each other’s resources. As long as their families never find out. The blood feud between the two gangs runs deep. Juliette has to decide how far she’s willing to save her people and risk her heart along the way.
1. What was your initial reaction to the book? Did it hook you immediately, or take some time to get into?
Everyone agreed that These Violent Delights hooked readers immediately. It starts out strong by showing the chaos breaking out in Shanghai, China. The characters also intrigued us right away and made us want to understand their backstories.
2. What made the setting unique or important? Could the story have taken place anywhere?
The Shanghai, China setting in 1926 was important for the story. One member of our group thought the story could have taken place somewhere else, it just would not be as enjoyable.
What made the setting so great was how much research Gong put into this book. She explained colonization and the interwar period well. Since none of us had a strong background in Chinese history, we learned so much about the division in the city. Americans, British, French and Russians all had territory. For example, the Montagov family are Russians. Juliette talked about how she faced discrimination in her own country.
Also, Gong painted a picture of the divide between the Nationalist party and the Communist party in the 1920s. The internal political disputes made the story much stronger and we loved the diversity in the book.
3. How did the characters change throughout the story? How did your opinion of them change?
We all liked the progression of Juliette and Roma. Juliette was a total badass and we admired her strength. She faces sexism for being a female heir, but she is determined to prove herself to her family.
Roma was sympathetic. While we know from the beginning and he and Juliette have a bad history, he had his reasons. We like how protective he is and we liked him even more as the story went on.
As for supporting characters, Tyler and Paul are the worst. Trust us, we disliked them more as the story went on. While our favorite supporting character was Kathleen, Juliette’s cousin. Her backstory shocked us and we want her to have a bigger role in book 2, Our Violent Ends.
4. How did you feel about the ending? What did you like, what did you not like, and what do you wish had been different?
Overall, then ending gave us a few surprises, especially the epilogue. The one problem we had was that we felt confused because we didn’t quite understand how the ring leader “controlled the monster.” We hope our question is answered in book 2. We did like how Gong set up for the next book in the series. Juliette and Roma have some work to do!
We also liked the big reveal and standoff between members of the Scarlets and the White Flowers. It kept us on the edge of our seats. Gong wrapped up most loose ends, just to give us a major cliffhanger that has us eagerly anticipating Our Violent Ends, which releases November 2021.