Book Review: OUR VIOLENT ENDS by Chloe Gong

Title in white on black next to fiery dragon wrapped grenade
Genre: Historical Fantasy Retelling
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - second book in duology



Book cover for OUR VIOLENT ENDS: title in gold on burning, dragon wrapped grenade on dark maroon

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other. 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


The finale to this Romeo and Juliet retelling takes place around the Shanghai Uprisings of 1927. As well as a blood feud to deal with, the pair also have to contend with more monsters and the looming battle between communists and nationalists.

There are a lot of threats, therefore, to navigate, and plots to unravel. However, most of the action around those threats comes in the second half. The first half is an investigation that Roma and Juliette are pushed into collaborating over, exploring the tension between them after the finale of the final book – and their continuing attraction.

There’s also more time spent on the supporting POVs – Benedickt, Marshall, and Kathleen/Celia. (Alisa is technically a POV again, but once again she has very little she says. I am hoping we get more of her in the spin off.)

I did enjoy getting more time with them, seeing their growth. There’s Benedickt falling apart with grief, Marshall chaffing against the restraints of being dead, and Kathleen trying to find her way in the world as she continues to be drawn deeper into the communists. Particularly in the first half, they really help to move the story along.

In the first book, there were a very few scenes written in third person present tense (vs the majority of the book in third person past.) They were scenes that sort of zoomed out to give a sense of what was happening widely. Here, there are a lot more of these scenes, and the tense change could be pretty jarring – particularly as it might swoop down on these characters and show what they were doing, but without their names or the tense it was usually in.

Everyone knows the ending of Romeo and Juliet – tragedy (or foolishness and poor communication, depending on how you view it.) I honestly wasn’t convinced that this book was going to lean into the tragedy, but was instead going to find some way out – faking, perhaps? Like Marshall’s in book 1? (The duology has spent almost 1000 pages getting us to like them as a couple, so I wasn’t sure it would be able to just kill the pair of them and defy the expectations of YA so much.)

The ending sort of tries to play it both ways at one, though it leans a little more one way. it will definitely take me some time to decide whether I liked that, or would have preferred a more definitive answer.

Read my reviews of other books by Chloe Gong:

These Violent Delights (this series):

Foul Lady Fortune (chronologically after this series):

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