“I am a man, not a movement,” he said. “But if a movement is what it takes to end this war, then I will play my part.”
Our Dark Duet opens with Katherine in Prosperity, fighting monsters there, while August seems to have taken up his fallen brother’s mantle-but considering that Leo was a bit of a soulless dick when he was ‘alive’ that is a tad distressing.
The book follows them as they both start on their different journeys but meet in the middle in a quest to fight a new monster, a monster that has no shape or form but instead feeds on violence itself.
The monster is philosophically interesting, as is the duology. Theoretically, Schwab is playing with questions of consequence. When human beings are violent toward one another, we see death and destruction, but what is the true, lasting consequence of our lack of humanity towards one another? In this duology, Schwab answers that question by manifesting consequences into horrifying material form according to how dire the violence is.
The first book is amazing, and deserves the accolades it is receiving. It is well thought-out, well paced and its characters are well drawn. The second however, is not.
One of the reasons why the first book is amazing is the meeting of two people from “opposite sides of the tracks.” Their relationship, growth, and discoveries are really what kept the book moving. The first half of the second book is spent with them being apart, and the novel suffers for it.
Henry is the most interesting person in this novel, and he is not even one of the two main characters. It is because he is the only one who actually makes logical decisions. The quote I picked above is from him, and his actions are, for me, the only true driver of this otherwise unremarkable novel.
I want to praise the novel for introducing a gender non-conforming character, a monster who is neither he nor she, but they. However, the inclusion seems to be pointless. Schwab does not further ask or answer questions of impact on gender, or genderlessness on monsters, who are not even human (and therefore should not have a gender. Sex is NOT biology, people.) Also, why a monster that is genderless, rather than a character, who would be much more interesting, and allow her to properly explore these questions within this world she has built? Inclusivity and diversity is important but I refuse to praise badly done attempts simply because they exist. GNC people deserve more than this.
Lastly, and this is really the reason I am giving this two stars, is the shit poetry. I am sorry, but it is shit poetry. You can write hallucinations/visions without resorting to the Rupi Kaur method of line-breaks-as-poetry. It seemed to me an author who wanted to finish the novel as soon as possible, and decided to fill up entire pages with shit poetry masquerading as visions presented in a novel manner, rather than actually take the time to add meaningful bits to the novel.
As both a Literature teacher and someone who has a degree in Lit, please God, won’t someone stop the bad poetry?
Recommendation: None. Stop with the first book.