Cover Image: The Violence

The Violence

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Member Reviews

When I first started The Violence I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I kept reading, and I’m so glad I did. The Violence is told through multiple points of view, which takes a minute to appreciate at the beginning. It begins with a random brutal attack in a grocery store. No one is sure what triggered the attack. The only thing they know is that one second the attacker is shopping for groceries, the next they are beating someone to death with a bottle of salad dressing. Once the act is committed the attacker snaps back to themselves and continues shopping like nothing happened. Random acts of violence pop up everywhere after that, and quickly everyone begins to quarantine at home in an attempt to stay safe. 
The story follows multiple generations of a family as they struggle to adapt to the newest pandemic. Chelsea is a stay at home mom who struggles to navigate her husbands shifting moods and his endless demands for perfection. Ella, Chelsea’s daughter, watches her mom prepared to call 911 at a moments notice, while protecting her little sister Brooklyn. Patricia is Chelsea’s mother, and they have an extremely strained relationship. Patricia went from struggling single mom to trophy wife to a prominent judge. The Violence simultaneously tears the family apart and brings them together. All of the women, must find their own way to keep going during the pandemic never knowing who could catch The Violence. 
This will be one of my top reads for the year for sure! Once The Violence sunk its claws into me I was hooked. I had to know how the family would survive and if they would find a way back to each other. 

This book does come with some trigger warnings which the author thoughtfully provides at the beginning of the book. It contains depictions of physical, emotional, and (mild) sexual abuse. There are also descriptions of animal death and graphic violence. Normally animal death is a no go for me but it was tastefully done so that it wasn’t too distressing for me.
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There was a lot about The Violence that was intriguing and pulled me in. Taking place in the near future, a second pandemic has hit - and this time when someone is afflicted they are subject to “storms” - extreme violent outbursts where they can brutally kill with whatever items happen to be nearby and then they come back to themselves and carry on as normal.

We are pulled into the story via 3 generations of women in the same family. Chelsea who is in an abusive marriage, her narcissistic mother Patricia and her teenage daughter Ella. 

There was so much potential here - for a while I really thought this could be a book taught in schools in the future. I wished I was reading it with a book club to discuss especially when I got to lines like this:

“It’s almost funny, how America didn’t take COVID seriously because it was ‘just like the flu,’ but now that a pandemic could result in being beaten to death, they’re a lot more willing to stay home.” 

However this book lost me somewhere in the middle. I feel like I’m just slogging along. This book is 512 pages but I think could have been a really solid 350 page book. I ultimately decided to DNF because I find myself not wanting to pick it back up - which is a shame because I think the messages here are super interesting and I love the writing but this just isn’t for me or at least not right now.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the free advance reading copy.
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I just reviewed this on my new site...please read when you get the chance!

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Delilah Dawson’s book The Violence is a very hard book to get through, but an important read for those who have been abused in some way, shape or form. Which probably embodies all of us. But as Dawson writes at the end of the book, “Living well is the best revenge.”.

Chelsea Martin’s life looks perfect on the outside. Perfect husband, two daughters 17-year-old Ella and 5-year-old Brooklyn in a perfect house. Pretending is exhausting. Her husband David physically and emotionally abuses her, he makes sure she has limited money and no access to accounts, he demands they all greet him at the garage door when he comes home from work, the meals they eat are all his favorites, and when he begins to drink at dinner…well… that’s when most of the physical abuse begins, something Chelsea has tried desperately to keep hidden from her children. Unfortunately, David has set his sights on Ella and now Chelsea fears everything is escalating.

David’s best friends are a police officer and a lawyer, so Chelsea’s escape seems unattainable. Her mother, Patricia, is a self-absorbed, egotistic woman who cares only about herself and money. After an abhorrent childhood, and abusive relationship, she feels she is due the wealth and security she now has with her husband who is a judge. Yes, so she has seen her only daughter Chelsea with a few bruises, but she believes Chelsea should just try harder to make her marriage work. And help her leave financially? Well, that’s just not her problem. Chelsea’s children are spoiled as it is.

But Chelsea begins to finally see a way out of this abuse. After the Covid pandemic, another type of sickness has begun. It seems to have started in Florida where they live. No one knows how, but people are being affected. They are calling it the Violence because it causes a person infected to explode into a horrible rage physically mutilating anyone around them, be it person or animal. Then, the rage leaves and the infected has no idea of what they have just done.

Chelsea devises a scheme to get David out of their lives. And it works, but the real problems truly begin when she goes to her mother, Patricia to ask for help because she has no money and needs to get out of Florida. Patricia refuses to help her but agrees to take her children. Left with no choice she leaves them with her uncaring mother, promising she will come back for them.

But this is a pandemic like no other and through no fault of anybody their lives take separate paths. And then David comes back and wants to get his revenge on them all. Each of them will be challenged in ways they could never imagine. They have three options, fight for themselves, fight for each other or fight together against both the Violence and David. Can these women finally face their pasts and create a new future?

This is a powerful story about generational abuse and how it is possible to break the cycle by strength, love and forgiveness. Again, living well IS the best revenge.

Thank you #NetGalley #DelRay #DelilahS.Dawson #TheViolene for the advanced copy.
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I really wanted to like The Violence, but it wasn't for me. The premise is incredibly intriguing, but I found reading to be a bit of a slog. I made it 25% into the book but am giving up. The characters seemed a little superficially written and the story didn't grab me. Some of the actions seemed incredibly far-fetched. I might have stuck it out a little longer had the book been shorter, but at around 500 pages, it doesn't seem worth it. 

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I thought this was pretty good. It took a turn in a direction I didn’t think it would take but I still enjoyed the ride. Scary to think of during Covid.
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4 stars

You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books.

This is a fantastic horror/SciFi/thriller that analyzes what could happen if another, different kind of pandemic sweeps the world, and how three women living under the specter of domestic abuse can break free and make a better life for themselves. The disease, called The Violence, causes the infected to suddenly blank out and become deadly, viscously violent toward their target. Once the target is eliminated, the person drops out of the episode and has no memory of the attack. The world, suffering from COVID fatigue, initially discounts the disease and doesn't take notice until it has spread like a wildfire through the populace.

The story focuses on three women from one dysfunctional family. Wife and mother Chelsea, who lives a meek, frightened life with a physically and emotionally abusive husband. Ella, her 17 year old daughter who loves her mother but also resents her for not leaving and for having to shield and protect her younger sister. Lastly, Patricia, Chelsea's ruthless and narcissistic mother who cares more about living well and maintaining appearances than her family's well-being. All three women have lived with abuse and been mistreated by those that are suppose to love them the most. The journey each woman takes to heal herself is different, but worth it in the end.

The story sets up the characters lives before The Violence emerges, and then follows them as it affects each of them differently. Chelsea finally finds the courage to break free from her abusive husband, but the toll it takes on her and her family may be too much. The author does a great job of building Chelsea's personality and you can almost feel the claustrophobic and stifling life she leads. The quiet despair and self-loathing is hard to read. Even when she is doing everything she can to protect her daughters, you can feel her self-doubt leaking through. Typically in stories like this the victimized character has a huge breakthrough and then becomes a confidant person that doesn't take crap from anyone ever again. However here, Chelsea comes out from under the shadow of domestic abuse tentatively and cautiously. Small victories to others are huge ones for her. Her quiet moments of standing up for herself are enormous victories. So, while there aren't big loud moments (except one toward the end) exclaiming Chelsea's character growth, the story is much more believable.

Through a series of events Ella ends up on her own in the terrifying world with no resources and nowhere to go. Having found the courage to break free from her own abusive relationship, she initially thinks herself so much stronger than her mother, but when faced with surviving on her own, her fears and doubts overwhelm her. When she finally snaps out of it and begins to use her wits, she figures out how to find shelter and some means of feeding herself. She finds a deep well within herself to take charge of her life and figure things out.

Patricia's second husband is rich and provides her with all of the status and wealth she feels she is due, even if there is no warmth or love between them. Kicked out of her home while pregnant at 16 years old, scrimping and saving as a single mother, Patricia vowed she'd get the life she deserved one way or another. She never let herself get close to Chelsea, feeling that better she know how hard life is from the start than to be coddled. When her circumstances change and the life she knew is gone, she discovers that her former survival instincts are there and she is determined to harden up her 5 year old granddaughter like she did Chelsea.

But with nothing but time, and a 5 year old, on her hands, Patricia begins to reflect on her life and relationships with her family. Cracks begin to form in her stoic façade and she begins to soften. Initially I was skeptical that the author would be able to develop the character growth and change in Patricia that I could tell she wanted for her by the end of the book, but the skill she took in doing so made it believable. Although Patricia is the "villain" in the story and not as big a character as Chelsea, I thought she had the more interesting journey and biggest change. I loved seeing how Patricia realizes that things don't matter, people do. She understands that real relationships with real feelings don't make you weak, but rather strong.

This is a long book, but it reads quickly. I was immediately invested in the story and couldn't put it down. The author does a great job of building an extreme world for the backdrop of a classic story of overcoming your fear, defeating your abuser (or at least, getting away from them) and making your life what you want it to be. Easier said than done, sure. But most things worth having are.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Del Rey. All opinions are my own.
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I enjoyed this racing freight train of a novel set in the near future about an insect-borne disease and it’s subsequent aftermath-private vaccines, death, overwhelmed government services, etc. #theviolence zips along with characters I grew to really like and enjoyed their journey until the end which seemed rushed and too ‘happily ever after’. I thank #netgalley and the publisher for this book to read and review.
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This book had an interesting premise, abused women, different types of abuse and a pandemic that produced violence.  what was good about it, was the personal growth of the three woman and how they claimed their lives back.  the pandemic was both disturbing and a good symbolic theme.  My main problem was it was too long, and it ended up feeling too slow and way too much details.  If it had been tightened up quite a bit, it would have been a stronger story.
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If you have any triggers associated with domestic violence, this book is not for you. The first few chapters of this book are the most intense description of domestic violence I have ever read. It is raw, honest, harsh and hard to read. I was holding my breath while reading, without realizing it until I let out a huge exhale.  I didn’t know if I could keep reading, I was so upset.
 I did keep reading, and I am freaking glad I did. Reading the point of view of the abused wife, teenage daughter, and the grandmother, brings the whole cycle of abuse to light. The grandmother started it, the wife embodied the victim, and the teenage daughter got the trickle down. It’s heartbreaking watching the mother trying to keep her family together through the abuse.
 While all this is happening, the country is dealing with a new pandemic, The Violence. Unprovoked violence that starts and stops so abruptly, and can be hidden within anyone, has everyone in hiding. Imagine trying to leave an extremely violent and toxic relationship, with absolutely nothing, and entering a world consumed with fear. These women are starting from scratch, scared out of their minds, trying to find a better life.
 Following the women on their paths to becoming whole and healed was amazing. I felt proud and shocked at what they were capable of. They are powerful, strong women who rise from nothing, together. Omfg.. seriously..freaking amazing. 
  This is a book for women of all ages. A book for women who have been abused and survived, who have known someone abused, and for those that have left their situation and are trying to heal. It’s a book for women, all women.
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I DNF this book, I reached the 25% mark and could not read it anymore. It was very well written; I really liked the characters and the depth to them. It was interesting to read it from the POV of the mother, daughter and granddaughter, How each person and their decisions affect(ed) the other. I could feel the pain each of them endured, The story comes alive in a good way, too good lol 

I would have loved to continue reading the story but there was too much gore for me. I think this book should have maybe been categorized as horror or maybe there should have been a warning in the description?! It was just too much for me to stomach and I don't want to rate the book because it wouldn't be fair cause I didn't finish it.

Unfortunately I have to rate this on here because otherwise it won't let me send the review lol
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THE VIOLENCE is, at its core, a story of survival and a testament to motherly love.

Dawson tackles generational trauma and cycles of abuse in this harrowing tale of three women thrust into the fight of their lives. The book has echoes of a zombie dystopia, but the dead don't rise here. Instead, the living are infected by a dangerous disease that causes them to brutally attack those around them. Dawson expertly uses this strange fictional pandemic to unravel the threads of what it means to live, and how it feels to simply survive, and what we are capable of when we have the support that we not only need, but crave. 

The exposition was a little long, but once the first domino tipped, the punches kept coming. This is one of those "staying up late reading ten chapters in a clip because each one ends on a cliffhanger and you desperately need to know what happens next" sort of book. I devoured it. The world beyond the front cover is rich and terrifying, fascinating and bloody, bizarre and thoughtful and just the right level of tense. 

This is true horror with a heart. It has thriller-esque pacing, and the organization of the story makes me feel like this would make an incredible movie or mini-series. It has a cinema-like quality, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't have my fingers crossed for a film option. But beyond all of that, this is the kind of powerful story with characters that burrow into your heart and hard hits that get you thinking.
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The Violence by Delilah Dawson had lots of post pandemic, apocalyptic tension. Coming out of one pandemic and then being suffocated by another, more mysterious disease, we follow 3 generations of strong women. They travel different roads and have different stories but they are united by blood and the mistakes they’ve made in the past.

This was a long book. It was a slow burn through the first half. But the last 50%, I was unable to put it down. I loved all three female main characters. I will say that my favorite journey by far was Patricia, the matriarch. Not only did she embark on an “adventure” with her young granddaughter Brooklyn, she went on an emotional journey as well. I went from absolutely loathing her to Patty being my favorite character.

This book was full of violence; the kind that exists in the world as a whole and the more private kind that happens behind closed doors. A powerful book that I’ll be thinking about for a long time.
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Even though her life looks perfect from the outside, Chelsea Martin is trapped in an abusive marriage with no support and no way to escape. In an attempt to save herself and her daughter, she takes advantage of a new disease that has emerged called "The Violence" that causes people to randomly lash out and attack anyone near them. 

The Violence was one of my favorite books that I read in 2021. I loved that it was set in a post-Covid world (can that PLEASE become an actual thing?) and that it called out a lot of the stupidness we've been living with for the past two years in the context of a new plague;  "It's almost funny, how America didn't take Covid seriously because it was 'just like the flu,' but now that a pandemic could result in being beaten to death, they're a lot more willing to stay home." HAAAHAHAA (sob)

The story addresses issues of generational violence and family dysfunction and is pretty graphic in spots, but it didn't feel overly heavy and was fast paced, exciting, and snarkily funny a lot of the time. Plus, the whole wrestling situation was so bizarre and random and perfect. Loved it.

This is one I'm eventually going to reread because it was so good. Highly recommended!
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The Violence is extremely polarizing. Many readers won't be able to get to the actual story for the brutality that sets up this tale. Those that make it to the end, will see character development and the truth of the world.
Chelsea has a perfect life: married to her high school sweetheart, given birth to two wonderful daughters, and maintained a gorgeous house. But, as life goes, it's only perfect on the outside. Her life is full of violence and, unseemingly, it's about to get more violent. A sweeping illness takes over the human race simply called The Violence. Those inflicted descend into brutal violence not coming back up until they have killed whoever is closest to them. Then people are perfectly normal only having forgotten their violent rage. 

The Violence gives Chelsea a way out of life's prison for her and her girls. They escape to her mother's home. But Patricia only takes the children, turning Chelsea away. Chelsea must find a way to get the vaccine as she has The Violence herself. What will happen to these women? Can Chelsea stay free of her husband without killing the ones she loves? Will her mother be generous and vaccinate her girls or just makes promises she can not keep? Will the girls be ok with their parents?

I hovered between wanting to stop reading and to keep turning the pages. While I am used to violence, this book is intensely brutal. There are way too many dead animals. I mean, killed all the humans you want, but leave the animals alone. And it's that thought why violence is included. This disease pushes limits and exposes humans as the violent barbarians they can be. And this is truly scary. I often had to stop at these points to take a breather and find something happy and hopeful elsewhere.

But the story itself makes you want to know what happens. What happened to the mother who is fleeing her horrible husband? Her teen daughter who is divided from her family because her grandmother is, for lack of a better word, a bitch? What about the five-year-old in that woman's care? This is where you see humanity at its most hopeful. You see the characters fight their disease, their circumstances, their hopes, and their demons. This keeps the reader moving forward at a clipping pace. 

I was slightly disappointed in the ending. I guess I wanted the world to return to normal, but like any pandemic, the world will change forever. The novel reflects this and brushes aside any false hope. There is one last brutal act, but this one is warranted and is the one time you cheer for the inflicted character.

This book isn't for everyone. It's brutal and primal and comes with a content warning. But for people who like to see the truth of the world, this would be an interesting read.
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4.5 stars!

Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an ARC. 

Don't let the Author's Note scare you! I will admit I was a little skeptical after reading the Author's Note that this book might not be for me but I was wrong!

The Violence hits not long after the covid pandemic. What begins as a random act of violence turns into a global pandemic. We follow Chelsea and her family through the Violence. 

While this book deals with some heavy topics, there is a sense of hope and lightness about this book. This is a book that will stay with me and might be one of the best books I read this year!
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This review is posting to Goodreads now, and will run on my Instagram as soon as my physical copy comes in and I’m able to complete photography (probably tomorrow). I plan for it to remain there in perpetuity. 

I received a free eARC of The Violence by Delilah S. Dawson from the publisher through NetGalley. I began reading the ARC and then switched over to a purchased audiobook edition (narrated by Hillary Huber). All opinions are my own. Imagine a post-COVID world in which people begin blacking out and suddenly and inexplicably commit acts of physical violence. For some, this strange pandemic of mindless violence may mirror ordinary life. For others or may present an opportunity. The Violence is fundamentally a story about surviving domestic abuse. Following three generations of women, Dawson explores how living with violence and generational trauma impact life and the family dynamic while also offering a rousing good story loaded with elements of speculative fiction, political and economic critique, horror, and feminism. The book, especially at the beginning is terrifying and potentially very triggering. As the novel progresses it begins to widen its scope a bit, lightens it’s intensity in some ways, and incorporate elements ranging from humorous to almost whimsical…all while still remaining true to its themes. Counterbalancing the extreme discomfort and darkness I perceived in the beginning are moments of hope and transformation woven into various parts of the book. Dawson has skillfully written both a compelling plot but also some really incredible character arcs. Thematically this book brings a topic to light that is rarely discussed, let alone in such an honest way. The characters are wonderful and compelling and I was drawn in from the very first page. With all of that said, there were a few parts where I thought the plot strained reality a bit, especially in the second half of the book. I also found it a bit weird to be reading a book about a pandemic (The Violence) in which the narrative of the book (frequently) acknowledged COVID but was set post-COVID. Since COVID is still going on, albeit many parts of the world (very much including Florida, where this book is set) are acting as if it is not, it just seemed a bit surreal in some ways. I found myself wondering if The Violence was, in some ways, also about the COVID pandemic? Perhaps the world of the novel represents an alternative present? If so, I found it a bit odd that Dawson established and then critiqued elements in the book about the Violence pandemic response that did not actually happen in the real world (at least not in this country). Nevertheless, as an alternative present the book ranged from chilling to heartwarming and was consistently engaging. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone (except perhaps those who might be triggered by domestic abuse and patriarchal oppression). ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫✨ (4.75)
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I had to stop reading this book at 40%. I could not handle all the talk about pandemics and vaccinations.  I read to get away from daily life and this book just reminded me.
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“I stomped the dog to death,” she says to the darkness behind Amy. “And then I beat my only friend to death with her water bottle trying to get here.
She had it, too.”“I killed my neighbor with a shovel,” someone else says from the darkness.
“I was taking care of my mom. She was in hospice. Afterward , I was almost relieved ,” says someone else. “And I hate myself for thinking that.”
“It was my boss,” someone else says. “That pedophile deserved it.”“I was a teacher,” someone else says, voice breaking. “One of my kids. I fucking loved my kids.”
One by one, the voices ring out in the darkness. Everyone has killed someone.

Let me just say, who could have figured a story about a rage virus taking over the country would end up being a feminist manifesto?

This story follows 3 women in one family - Patricia the cold matriarch, Chelsea her daughter who has only been a disappointment to her, and Chelsea's daughter Ella as they all come to terms with the Violence in their own way.

The Violence starts in the south, a new virus spread by mosquitoes soon after th covid pandemic ends. It's hard not to see similarities to the rage virus in 28 days later except this virus does not turn people into zombies. When they are 'activated' they have a single-minded goal to kill their target. But once it's done they wake back up in horror of their actions, always fearing that it may happen again.

This is an amazingly creative story of how people would recreate society after a virus like this. Chelsea uses the violence as a way to finally get away from her abusive husband. Patricia, who wants nothing to do with her daughter and granddaughters, is forced to take in Chelsea's daughters when Chelsea flees. Chelsea gets picked up by a group that have embraced the violence for entertainment.

This is not a 5-star story for me because there were a lot of points where the story lagged and I think some parts could have been shortened or cut. Overall though I really recommend it I have never read a book quite like this before. If you have pandemic fatigue, don't worry this is very different.

Thank you NetGalley and random house publishing group - ballantine for giving me an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I have top be honest after a hundred pages I DNF'd this. I thought the premise started strong and I was engaged and intrigued by the idea of domestic violence finding its way down through generations of a family, but then it began to go off the rails. When it began to tip towards GLOW and the grandmother became this stock evil character akin to the Grandmother is Flowers in The Attic I was pretty much out. I think in the right hands it could be a somewhat interesting movie but as a book it felt more silly than sinister.
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