The Violence by Delilah S. Dawson, 4 Stars

When Chelsea Martin kisses her husband hello at the door of their perfect home, a chilled bottle of beer in hand and dinner on the table, she may look like the ideal wife, mother, and homemaker—but in fact she’s following an unwritten rulebook, carefully navigating David’s stormy moods in a desperate nightly bid to avoid catastrophe. If family time doesn’t go exactly the way David wants, bad things happen—to Chelsea, and to the couple’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Ella. Cut off from all support, controlled and manipulated for years, Chelsea has no resources and no one to turn to. Her wealthy, narcissistic mother, Patricia, would rather focus on the dust on her chandelier than acknowledge Chelsea’s bruises. After all, Patricia’s life looks perfect on the surface, too.

But the façade crumbles when a mysterious condition overtakes the nation. Known as the Violence, it causes the infected to experience sudden, explosive bursts of animalistic rage and attack anyone in their path. The ensuing chaos brings opportunity for Chelsea—and inspires a plan to liberate herself and her family once and for all.

Advanced Praise for The Violence:

“A gorgeously creative and surprisingly gleeful story about the way violence infects every aspect of American life.”—Sarah Langan, author of Good Neighbors

“A novel that defines this era.”—Stephen Graham Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians


My Review:

The Violence starts off innocently enough. It starts just like any pandemic (as we are all well-versed in now) with just a couple random infections. An elderly woman at Costco beats a mom to death with a jar, a girl in school beats another student to death in the bathroom. Horrible, yes, but isolated. Until it’s not.

One of the most interesting things for me about The Violence is that Delilah Dawson sets it in a post-COVID world. Except it’s not that far after COVID, a mere 3 years from now. And the idyllic world everyone had hoped awaited for them on the other side is instead a new infection. And this time, people are staying home. Because going out presents the chance of getting beaten to death, or killed deliberately by an infected motorist, or a similar fate.

Dawson is clever with the parallels she draws to our current pandemic. For instance, vaccine production and distribution is mismanaged. Because the same president who was in office when COVID began is back, and working just as hard in his own interest and wanting to be “right.” And while the plot itself takes some crazy and unexpected turns, I think we all know that the incredulous and unlikely are all much more likely in a world where people are scared for their lives and confused.

Luckily, the sickness in The Violence makes our current pandemic look like a cake-walk. But it’s a fun (albeit gruesome at times) look into the what-ifs. Special thanks to Netgalley Ballantine for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out now. Get your copy!


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