Okay. It's official. Victoria Schwab is my favorite author for writing character. Every one of her books brings me characters I find interesting and engaging, and This Savage Song was no exception. Kate and August are complex and layered, with relatable motivations even when their actions might be less relatable. And I loved them both. The side characters were also intriguing, especially August's "siblings", and the interactions between all of these people kept me glued to the page.
The comparison to Romeo & Juliet without the romance (and with monsters...lots of monsters) is spot on. Kate and August are on opposite sides (literally geographically and figuratively politically), but as the book progresses they have to forge an alliance to achieve their goals. Because Schwab does such a good job with character this led to an emotional rollercoaster. I hurt with these people, feared for them, and cheered at their victories. It was engrossing and exhausting all at once, an experience I relished after reading several books that were a bit weak in the character department. Ultimately I left the book satisfied but wanting more, which is my mark of a good read.
I also appreciated the world building. Verity feels well developed and lived in without Schwab ever going into big info dumps or giving you lots of backstory or particulars. It's all done with a light touch so you get enough to understand the story at hand, while the rest sort of fills in on its own without bogging down the story. The monsters were scary twists on traditional tropes, familiar enough to be recognizable but unique enough to give you the creeps all over again. (Especially the Corsai. Yikes.) It's been a while since I read a monster book and actually found the monsters scary. Kudos. I also really liked the direction she went with how the monsters are created, especially the Sunai, but I won't say more because I don't want to spoil anything.
Bottom line: If you're tired of romance overtaking your teen reads, you want some horror mixed in with your adventure, or you just want to meet some interesting characters or explore a dark world, you should give this book a try.