Cover Image: The Deading

The Deading

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Member Reviews

This is a dystopian story about people imitating dying and then actually die (kind of) and some people come back and then there’s a split and also there’s something going around that involves snails and birds. I think the concept was really intriguing to me but I think my main problem was that I didn’t get on with the writing style. For me it was a lot of over explaining without really saying anything and I couldn’t really imagine anything that was explained. Maybe this was just a slight miss for me but might be the perfect book for someone else. I saw someone say that this read more like a text book than a story and I couldn’t agree more. Overall not my favourite but I think the cover art is beautiful!
Thankyou to Netgalley for an advanced readers copy :)

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Many thanks to Erewhon and Netgalley for the ARC.

If the beautifully uncanny cover of this book wasn't enough to draw me in, then the premise definitely did the job. <i> The Deading </i> by Nicholas Belardes is exactly the type of story I've been craving- some science fiction horror to make me question human consciousness.

The book centres around a cast of characters and their experience of the strange contagion that takes over their small coastal town. People are dying in the streets and coming back to life changed in sinister ways. As the town is put under strict quarantine, strange new semi-religious factions emerge, violence breaks out and everyone seems to steadily lose their minds.

Sounds amazing, doesn't it? I really wish I liked the actual book as much as I liked the blurb.

Unfortunately, I only got through 60% before I decided to put it down for good. This story was a gem, but the execution was decidedly not for me. Some of the creative decisions here were simply not my cup of tea. Others were dangerously close to objectively bad writing.

To start from the beginning, readers are presented straight away with the points of view of a cast of completely deplorable characters. There wasn't a single POV character that earned my sympathy for the first 20%. This made it hard enough to get immersed in the story, and when you add the frankly bewildering amount of barely related techno-bable and bird anatomy info-dumping, it started to get aggravating.

Still, I wanted to give it a fair shot as the publisher was kind enough to approve this copy for me, so I kept going. Then came an increase in the tension, with the sudden mass spread of the contagion, and I thought it was finally starting to resemble the structure of an average book, but alas, I was wrong. It quickly returned to paragraphs and paragraphs of filler that I just did not care about. So much filler that I often forgot where the characters were or what they were supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, this continued, with brief parts of clarity that were gripping, and then a return to the aimless soliloquising that put me into a hazy-eyed stupor.

Another major gripe I had was the constant change from 1st person to 3rd person to 1st person plural, even. The chapters in 1st person singular were all told from one character's perspective which I believe was the most unsubtle thing I've read in a while. Every other sentence was her thinking about how old and Japanese she is.

Overall, this book seems to suffer from the application of short story structure to a full-length novel. Everything felt vaguely disconnected. The prose is simultaneously ascetic with the story and characters, and overly indulgent with information about bird watching and other uninteresting (to me) things.

By the time I reached halfway and was still actively forcing myself to continue reading, I knew that this book was just not for me. All of my kudos to the author for coming up with such an enticing premise, but the execution was astronomical units from my preference. I rate it two stars in recognition that there was a lot that I disliked simply because it wasn't my thing. Thanks again to the publisher.

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A little too political and social for me. And I’m a lefty. I guess it just wasn’t for me. I just wanted a story without real world social elements. What I really want is escapism from everything and it wasn’t it for me.

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I am sorry this book isn’t for me. It was labeled as a women fiction but I do not thing it is? A lot of explaination about environtment that mostly I don’t understand and it wasn’t what I look for in women fiction section.

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I really want to love this book. It combines the mystery and thrill of the unknown but let me down by not having a conclusi0n. The last third-ish of the book is where I started to get into it but the ending did not meet the mark.
Multiple POVs can really push the story but it was hard to follow when the POVs weren't mentioned until well into the chapter and the narrative did not give the fell that they were distinct characters that books like "Her Majesty's Royal Coven" did. Overall, the book felt like a fever-dream and some people who really enjoy speculative novels.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington/Erewhon Books for providing me with this ARC in an exchange for my honest review!

“The Deading” centers around the contagious disease that spreads after the local oyster farm’s owner finds a snail that has infested his crop, which results in an absolute disaster, causing people everywhere to dead.

At the beginning, it took me a little while to get used to the writing because of the multiple points of views, but soon after everything clicked in place. “The Deading” is a story about survival, about putting relationships to the test in almost impossible situations, and amongst all the chaos, about birds. The only characters immune to the disease are forced to navigate their way out, despite Baywood being placed under quarantine and its residents’ fates being left in the hands of artificial intelligence, while the deading ones are fighting for dominance and tearing each other apart.

I loved Blas and Chango’s relationship. It showcased that brotherly love isn’t always simple and rational, given the fact that Chango and Blas had their differences, but it didn’t prevent them from finding their way to each other. I found myself crying towards the end.

I can definitely say that I can see myself rereading this book, because it’s the kind that keeps you guessing, whilst offering an unique story and versatile characters.

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The cover of this book was so unusual that it immediately drew me in. The description was also very intriguing as it is an unusual idea that I hadn't read before.

Unfortunately I struggled with this book. The story felt disjointed at times which prevented me from getting into it. It was also hard to follow with the multiple POVs as some of them weren't clear on whos POV it was.

The formatting on kindle could also use some work as the pages are sometimes cut in half by the photos.

The story was interesting and I enjoyed some of the characters. I would read more from this author as it was a very interesting concept.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with this arc.

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The Deading had a lot attracting me to it, a strange premise, links to King's Under the Dome and an intense title. And as I dove into the book it only got stranger still. The book has many 'parts' - part virus horror, part cosmic, part societal critique, part cult, with a dash of satire snuck in there.

The plot follows Baywood, or rather the mysterious hivemind/blob/infection that spreads into the small isolated town, leading to an enforced quarantine. A violent quarantine which is somehow less concerning than the bizarre process of 'deading' where people and animals infected have a tendency to 'die' for short periods.

Perhaps my favourite thing about this story is the quirky and unique juxtaposition of normal everyday life alongside the unusual and disturbing infection. It's not a zombie thriller, nor is it a typical pandemic thriller - The Deading obviously has a major impact on the population but at the same time people are sort of going about their lives, either trying to understand/resist/lean into the infection process.

My only real concerns about the book is there is a LOT. A raft of characters, plot points, and themes all while maintaining an air of mystery about the events of the story. For the first few chapters I actually genuinely thought this was going to be one of those winding narratives where each chapter was a brand new perspective as for about the first 5 or so was always a new POV. In a similar vein there were moments were I found the narrative a little too speedy, there were some really intense grounded scenes, but often some really significant moments seemed almost rushed, and reviewed in a sort of narrative summary. I honestly thought this book could have been twice as long and spent more time exploring the events of the story and been the better for it.

Overall The Deading though is really good, I could imagine this being a really good movie or TV series as the premise is so different, while there are nods to tropey or genre elements the tale feels like itself and itself only. Some might be disappointed to read this that the story isn't heavy on answers, perhaps leaving more questions afterwards - also I feel this book acts as a kind of 'multiphor' the blob/infection/Deading kind of representing many different themes (racism, classism, ageism, nature striking back, at least) so in some respects it avoid preaching because the story touches on many different issues, but some might prefer a more direct message.

An exciting and original work, recommended!

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The cover and description immediately drew me in. This book has such an interesting concept, but something about it didn’t work for me. Some reviews say it’s unpolished and reads like a first draft, and I do get that feel, but I think that might just be the writing style. A huge pet peeve was the use of the ampersand instead of “and.” And while the descriptions of nature, the oyster and birds, were beautiful, I feel they really made the story drag. If this were polished a bit more, those beautiful descriptions might have been expertly intertwined instead of seeming like they are just dumped in there. The narration style didn’t work for me either. I enjoy multi-pov stories, but this was hard to follow. The “why” is never really explained, and though it’s not necessary to explicitly state why the “deading” is happening, I don’t think it was executed properly. There are hints of themes and if I tried really hard, I could decipher the message, but it’s all so convoluted. I’m giving it stars (2.5) because there is so much potential here and I finished it where other readers DNF’d it.

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A lot didn't make sense to me. sometimes it switches POVs and I can't tell whose it is, it was really boring mostly throughout the entire book and the timeline was confusing. I honestly could barely get through this.

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‘The Deading’ is a dark and gruesome story about an entity that causes people in Baywood to begin deading, an extremely gruesome way of dying, yet they seem to come back to life, just not as they once were. They come back as the ‘Risers’.

I really enjoyed the multiple POVs of this novel. It gave insight into how different people were dealing with the same situation, their worst nightmares coming to life. Although - the switching POVs weren’t always clear as to whose it was which, at times, could be frustrating. It did also make the timeline rather confusing at times.

The beginning of the book did capture my attention. I found the premise of the novel intriguing, but my attention quickly faded. This novel included a lot of information-dumping. To Belardes’ credit - this was mentioned prior to the first chapter, I just didn’t realize just how much there would be. While usually I wouldn’t mind a bit of info-dumping here and there, birds and oysters just don’t hold my attention.

The last third of the book is where it really began to pick up again and become really interesting. Yet - the ending fell flat compared to the last few chapters. It felt it just ended with no real resolution or closure. It could have been intentional to provide no real closure to the storyline, but personally that left me more frustrated than thought-provoked.

Overall - this book could be great for the right audience, but it fell flat for me, unfortunately.

I’d like to thank #NetGalley and Kesington/Erewhon Books for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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<i>Thank you to Netgalley for the e-ARC!</i>

Honestly, this is a complete mess. The first 30% is almost completely unreadable due to the way oyster and bird facts are spliced through right in the middle of scenes for <i>several</i> paragraphs. It breaks the flow of the story and makes it incredibly hard to follow what’s going on.

I liked Blas and Chango’s relationship (albeit, I liked Chango a lot more as I could avoid the bird tangents) but other characters aren’t at all notable.

There’s a lot of interesting ideas in here, especially near the end, but it’s buried in what feels like a painful first draft. There’s a lot that needs to be fixed before this can be published.

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The cover is what drew me in, I loved the use of the bird and it had that weird scifi element that I was hoping for. The ocean is a scary concept overall and this worked with the dystopian novel. I thought the infection was a great idea and that it dealt with another scary element with the ocean. I thought the deading was a great idea and worked perfectly in the story. I enjoyed how good Nicholas Belardes wrote this and the characters within. It had everything that I was looking for and enjoyed what I read.

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Thank you Kensington Books, and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I am giving The Deading by Nicholas Belardes 3 stars.

The Deading showcases many different perspectives as an ocean-borne contagion infects a small town, and as someone who prefers less POV’s I did actually love how Belardes exposes each persons fears and struggles while trying to navigate their new lives. The only thing I struggled with was sometimes I wouldn’t know whose perspective it was until halfway through the chapter, because it is not shown at the chapter head and many internal dialogues sound very similar until later on.

I enjoyed how Belardes went into deeper topics like grief, loss, loneliness, and communication. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing itself, it was very very well done.

The reason I am only giving 3 stars is due to how much unnecessary information is packed into it, the vivid descriptors of birds through the book made my brain hurt, I can not justify the need for knowing all of these birds color’s, calls, and behaviours. And sadly I could not retain any of that information. I really wish he went more into details about the actually Deading instead of birds, because that it what I found the most interesting about this book.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for the ARC!

“The Deading” has an eerily beautiful cover which caught my attention immediately and the synopsis sounded interesting. You’re transported in a world where the creatures of the sea come on to land and disrupt the residents of Baywood, remaking the peaceful society into a nightmare colony. The initial descriptions of the flora and fauna were interesting and captivating. I always found birds fascinating so I was following with interest the little group of local birdwatchers as the deadening was spreading.

If I have to summarise “The Deading” I would describe it as a Junji Ito’s grotesque and ever escalating body horror, meets the absurdity of humankind you see in Chuck Palahniuk’s earlier novels. The more you read the more absurd and uncomfortable it gets to follow the residents of Baywood and their cult. I especially liked how the birdwatchers were turned into those who were watched in the end, and I wish the story expanded and build around that more. Especially the lost potential of the eBird app.

Now in terms of writing this is a unique book, it follows its own set of rules unlike the typical horror/lockdown story. There are different points of view - you get inside both the residents’ and the creatures’ minds. Each perspective is written differently and it’s a mix of first person plural, third person, first personal singular…At first this was confusing because I didn’t expect three different styles of writing to be switched back and forth as the story progressed. It affected both the pacing of the story and my own pace as a reader. It threw me off a number of times. Individually these perspectives are well written but it made for a slow and rough read. Especially with how heavy the chapters are with nature and bird details, and the overall descriptions and inner monologues of the characters. It got too much and clustered with little breaks between the chapters.

I’m not sure what to make of the deading other than it’s a kind of disease which I haven’t come across in other fictional books or movies, so that’s one of the pluses of the story. It was a very disturbing idea to follow from start to finish. I do wish the book delved more in the beginning stages of the deading affecting Baywood and how people ended up being divided. I feel like there were missing episodes and I’m also not sure on the passing of time in the book.

For me “The Deading” started with a lot of potential, has a unique structure and premise but the execution was lacking. Some chapters and character actions sounded repetitive, the pacing is slow and at times confusing. The bird and nature details set a good buildup in the beginning but become too much as the story progresses. Overall I wanted to give the book 3 stars but the more I read the less I found the book to my taste. I am curious to read Nicholas Belardes’ nonfictional books, it’s evident he’s an expert in his field and I liked his opening statements.

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Thirteen months ago the teenagers at Baywood High in California went through a period of pretending to die for social media. Now the entire town is doing it, seemingly for real. It all begins when Bernhard, a local oyster dealer finds an invasive snail. He is turned into….something else and slinks off to live, in an altered state, outside of town. Then the deadening begins.

Teenage birder Blas and elderly birders Ingram and Kumi are some of the few not deadening and they are trying to figure out how escape. Factions form. Birds and animals dead too. What will happen to Baywood, California, now that it has been isolated from the rest of America?

This book was a bit frustrating in that I liked parts of it, and other parts were a bit maddening. What is actually happening was all a bit vague. Kumi says, “I’m not deading. I don’t have the desire to,” as if it is a choice, but birds and animals dead, so it’s not as if it’s a peer pressure thing. I’m also not exactly clear on how the adults in the town let the whole thing be turned into a Hot Topic goth ritual. Way to stand strong, parents! Big fans of birdwatching will love this book, especially those who want to support minority birdwatchers, kind of a niche thing, but that’s fine!

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Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for the ARC!

“The Deading” has an eerily beautiful cover which caught my attention immediately and the synopsis sounded interesting. You’re transported in a world where the creatures of the sea come on to land and disrupt the residents of Baywood, remaking the peaceful society into a nightmare colony. The initial descriptions of the flora and fauna were interesting and captivating. I always found birds fascinating so I was following with interest the little group of local birdwatchers as the deadening was spreading.

If I have to summarise “The Deading” I would describe it as a Junji Ito’s grotesque and ever escalating body horror, meets the absurdity of humankind you see in Chuck Palahniuk’s earlier novels. The more you read the more absurd and uncomfortable it gets to follow the residents of Baywood and their cult. I especially liked how the birdwatchers were turned into those who were watched in the end, and I wish the story expanded and build around that more. Especially the lost potential of the eBird app.

Now in terms of writing this is a unique book, it follows its own set of rules unlike the typical horror/lockdown story. There are different points of view - you get inside both the residents’ and the creatures’ minds. Each perspective is written differently and it’s a mix of first person plural, third person, first personal singular…At first this was confusing because I didn’t expect three different styles of writing to be switched back and forth as the story progressed. It affected both the pacing of the story and my own pace as a reader. It threw me off a number of times. Individually these perspectives are well written but it made for a slow and rough read. Especially with how heavy the chapters are with nature and bird details, and the overall descriptions and inner monologues of the characters. It got too much and clustered with little breaks between the chapters.

I’m not sure what to make of the deading other than it’s a kind of disease which I haven’t come across in other fictional books or movies, so that’s one of the pluses of the story. It was a very disturbing idea to follow from start to finish. I do wish the book delved more in the beginning stages of the deading affecting Baywood and how people ended up being divided. I feel like there were missing episodes and I’m also not sure on the passing of time in the book.

For me “The Deading” started with a lot of potential, has a unique structure and premise but the execution was lacking. Some chapters and character actions sounded repetitive, the pacing is slow and at times confusing. The bird and nature details set a good buildup in the beginning but become too much as the story progresses. Overall I wanted to give the book 3 stars but the more I read the less I found the book to my taste. I am curious to read Nicholas Belardes’ nonfictional books, it’s evident he’s an expert in his field and I liked his opening statements.

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I gave this unique book 3 stars because it took so long to get into. The writing style and setting were not immediately interesting to me, but it did get better as it went on. It was great to see Hispanic characters in the book, as a Hispanic myself.

CW: Language and gore

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ARC by NetGalley and the publisher.
In a small seaside fishing town an evil has emerged deep from the oceans trenchs. A mysterious and strange infection is spreading, seeping its way into the local wildlife and the towns people. The newly infected being coined as “deading” for as soon as they perish they then rise again forever changed. The towns remaining residents must adapt and survive in this new environment filled with fear, isolation, and paranoia.

I was immediately intrigued just by seeing the cover of this book which is both haunting and beautiful at the same time. The premise of The Deading is a suspenseful creature feature with dystopian elements. The atmosphere, horror elements, and overall creepy factors kept me reading till the end however it was a struggle to get there. This for me is mainly due to the creative writing choices that are done. The POV constantly shifted from third person, to first person, and to multiple characters. This was done so frequently that it was even in the same chapter without any warning of this happening. This made the writing feel disjointed and ultimately harder to comprehend. While reading it is clearly apparent that the author has a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife that is used in this book and I do appreciate an author who takes the time to do their homework. However, it did become at times too wordy for me and ventured into info dumping territory. Overall while this book did take me longer to get thru then normal due to stylistic writing choices it did still manage to keep me interested and up at night thinking about the plots impending dread of quarantine and the unknowns of who you can trust and not in your community.

The Deading comes out July 23rd, 2024.

Thank you NetGalley and Erewhon Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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An unusual snail discovered at an oyster farm causes a whole town to be quarantined by the US government as a weird behavior strikes the majority of the population. A young man who is very interested in birding stands strong against "the deading" that many others in the town succumb to and fights to save his family and friends.

I really wanted to like this story a lot. The premise is really good, but I think the execution was rather rough. The book starts off with a collective third person, a Greek Chorus as described by the author, which I think made for an eerie start and if it had just stuck to the prologue and epilogue I think would have worked better, rather than including the random chapters in the middle using this pov. Unfortunately, the point of view switches nearly every chapter with some in first, some in collective third, some in limited third, one in second, and some switching within the chapter. This style was very hard to follow and made for a confusing lens to view the events. I could see this working if the flow was better but they felt a little disjointed and getting pov chapters from six characters was a bit much. I still don't understand why Kumi's chapters were in first person.

The second issue with the execution was the sheer number of science info dumps. The first chapter focused heavily on climate change and warming waters and a lot of, what felt like, unnecessary detail for something that isn't really relied on in the narrative later. Very shortly after that we started with the intricate details of identifying birds to species and the names of parts of their anatomy, I'll be honest I started skimming those. It really slowed the story down in those places, changed the tone and made it feel like Belardes just wanted to flex his bird knowledge muscles. I understand this is a passion of his, but it felt really forced just for the sake of being there.

In terms of the horror elements, honestly the snails and their role felt really played down and I wanted more of it. I didn't understand how Bernhard continued to play a role even though we went back to him a couple of times. It felt like nothing was really explained. Some of the best scenes for the horror element were with the Risers, which I still don't understand, in the church. I got really invested and then it fell away again. Everything felt like disjointed ideas and I wanted them to connect and I couldn't find the connection.

I enjoy horror with weird vibey elements, I don't always need it explained, Our Wives Under the Sea is a great example where the reason, the why, is never explained but we get an explanation of the events is happening. We are shown in clear fashion the events that unfold and it is very tense and atmospheric but light on the gore. This could have been a very atmospheric horror with a fair amount of gore that would have worked really well for me, but I think Belardes tried to do too much all at once.

I will still likely pick up a final copy on release and see how things have changed and am very appreciative of the chance to read something early that I really thought would be for me. It is unfortunate that it wasn't.

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