Cover Image: The Deading

The Deading

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Member Reviews

I really thought I would enjoy this more because the premise is unique and interesting. However, the book is very slow and bogs down the premise with not great characters and not great writing unfortunately.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion!

Truthfully, I didn't really enjoy this novel at all. The premise, while so interesting and engaging when read as a synopsis, is not at all what this book contains. I, like many other reviewers, feel like the author was trying to do so much that it ended up being TOO much. I didn't feel connected to any of the characters, possibly because of all of the POVs present throughout the novel, and honestly almost didn't finish the novel because of the slow pacing.

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The premise is a good one but the execution was lacking. I got 30% in and it just wasn't grabbing me. It's a DNF for me.

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There's a lot going on in this mournful, atmospheric horror novel where nature seems to be turning on humanity, causing all sorts of disturbing rituals, corrosion of society, and a sickness that seems to manifest itself in both mental and physical ways. Strange, dark, and intricately constructed horror.

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This ended up taking a bit longer than I thought it would to read, but as it turns out, it also took the plot a hot minute to cohere together, so it's all well. This is Belardes' first novel, and he chose a hell of a neat intersection to tackle - the hobby of birding, and pandemic. The novel does feel a bit unfocused at first, but it does eventually focus in on the intersection of class interaction, the hobby of birding, and how a horror pandemic starts originating in the birds. I did lose the plot a few times admittedly, and the cult did seem a bit extraneous, but honestly, this was a hell of a swing for a first novel, and even though it doesn't fully land for me, I liked what I read and I'm interested from more from Belardes in the future.

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“It’s already in you. And it will spread. You know this. Your world will never be the same. An unexplainable terror begins slowly unraveling around you. The deading is here. Even the tiny birds will lies still, as if dying has become a greeting, and mourning is a welcome.”

I had such high hopes for this debut eco-horror novel about a small coastal town where a mysterious contagion wreaks havoc on the local population (mollusks, birds and people alike). Think 28 Days Later meets The Bay and add a bit of the Lovecraftian. With a synopsis like that, and a cover to match the vibes perfectly, I couldn’t wait to get into this story.
Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver what I hoped it would.

What I liked:
It’s clear from the start, as well as the acknowledgement in the back, that the author and I are fascinated by the same brand of horror. Eco-, cosmic-, biological, teetering on the edge between speculative/sci-fi and horror. Bonus points for adding in an ocean-element too. In short; read the synopsis of The Deading, and you have basically the description of my ideal horror-novel. As awful as it sounds, I wanted to read that book, just not in the way that Belardes chose to tell it.

What I didn’t like:
There are quite some things I could critique, but I’m narrowing it down to the most “objective” ones that bothered me the most.
First things first: one of the key factors in a story like this is memorable characters that can hook you into the story and make you care for their safety as events progress. After having read this entire book (parts of it twice because it wouldn’t stick), I cannot tell you a single characteristic of any of our protagonists. They are flat, unmemorable and barely discernable from each other on page. This is compounded by the fact that the author often jumps from one POV to another without clearly marking the shift, which makes for a jarring and disjointed reading-experience.
Disjointedness is my second major critique of the book as a whole. Many cosmic horror novels employ this “disorienting” technique of presenting the story, and in some cases it adds to the horror. Think of Annihilation or House of Leaves, which use fragmented narratives to convey the sense of disorientation their characters feel. The difference being that Vandermeer and Danielewski chose to tell their stories in a fragmented way, yet they have a firm grip on them and know where they’re taking the reader. With The Deading it often feels the author lacks that control, and let the story meander away from him, failing to tie it all back together.
That leads to my final, most all-encompassing point: this book tries to do waaaay to much. Had it been focused on just a small cast of characters in a fishing village, dealing with an unknowable contagion, Belardes probably could’ve pulled off something intense and gripping. Instead, there are far too many secondary plotlines and themes railroaded in. The book tries to do eco-horror, zombies, government-surveillance, religious-/cult-horror, cosmicism and more and spreads itself so thin there’s barely any substance left. In the end, there are no resolutions and far too many open ends to make for a satisfactory conclusion to the story. I’m not a reader that needs every answer spelled out for them. In fact, some of my favourites (like aforementioned Annihilation and House of Leaves), leave quite some room for interpretation. Yet at least in those stories, it feels the author knows the answers. In The Deading, it feels like the author was just as lost on how to wrap everything up as I was.
Overall, I’m truly sad I didn’t love this book. I’d be happy to check out the authors next work, as their interests are clearly close to mine. The execution just wasn’t quite there yet in this debut…

Many thanks to Erewhon Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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This is my review for the Deading this is a book I was looking so forward to reading so much so I read it much sooner than I normally would have and I must admit I was truly disappointed. Although not a bad book per se I believe it’s not the book that was advertised. Unless I am reading nonfiction or the news I really am not into learning about the environment social issues ET see having said that despite the whole preamble to the book being exactly that I soldiered on because I was super excited to read the book. No the story whip Geraldo the fisherman was very interesting he was the first guy who dies but as the chapters go on the head of these dream sequences or fanciful thinking that went on for pages and I get that maybe that’s an analogy for what the environment is doing to the world because of what we’ve done to the environment I just could’ve live without it. I just wish it would’ve been a straightforward story and would’ve focused on Gerardo his crew and those issues I found funny moments in the book and creepy ones the only reason I am not giving it a better rating but every time I found myself getting into the story there would be something else to break up the flow that went on and on and I have to be honest I almost DNF this book in the seventh chapter in twice after it really would’ve been a great story and since the book isn’t being released until July maybe the author can take out The pointless dribble the book would definitely be better for it also I didn’t feel a lot of it was explained the way it should’ve been and maybe they had too many characters. I also didn’t like the way the chapters would start and you wouldn’t know who exactly that chapter was about. Do I recommend this book I don’t know read it at your own risk. I want to thank the publisher for my free ARC copy via NetGalley please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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DNF at 22% in, I simply cannot.

This book is marketed falsely. You’re promised something along the lines of a horror, or at the furthest, a sci-fi, which the premise gives. Instead, most of what I read was about birds and bird watching, oysters and crabs, things that aren’t seemingly relevant to the beginning prologue of the story.

The way the story is told is strange as well, alternating between 1st and 3rd pov, yet never clarifying which characters are which, so you’re confused and slightly disoriented for the most part.

I won’t say it’s badly written because the writing for the most part IS strong, there’s a heavy potential in it, as well as the author’s idea, it just…isn’t delivered to its best nor fullest.

Or perhaps this simply was not for me, and that is okay as well.

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I really wanted to like this book and then I got to a point where I really wanted to DNF it but in the end I ended up skimming the latter part of it.
The premise was great and the prologue really captured my attention but it became preachy very fast.
I read for entertainment or to learn and I love when the learning is carefully woven into the story but I felt like I was being yelled at for most of the book.

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The best part of this book is the prologue, and then everything just stops moving at all for an unnecessary amount of time and it just becomes preachy and annoying. I was very disappointed because it did seem like it was going to be very interesting in the beginning.

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Some funky snails show up in some bay and start making zombie like mutants with the immediate population, oh, and there’s lots of birds—I mean, you’re gonna read a lot bout them birds.

I understand the mixed responses to this book now. Around 40% it still felt like we were setting up and hadn’t made much progress in the plot. With each page turn there seemed to be a new character being introduced, or there was an assumption made by the author that we should already know certain things about a character. I usually don’t have an issue with POV or focus shifts, still, I found myself confused or irritated with each swap.

In particular, one focus really confused me was the anonymous teenager. I don’t even know what to say about them other then they were a mechanism for exposition 🤷🏻‍♀️

The beginning is super strong and sets up the story to be something wild, and I really wanted it to be that wild. That’s not what I got, though. I got an ornithology textbook.

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I am really disappointed in this one. The pacing was so slow! This book could have been so good but its just got lost in its own over explanation. I felt my eyes glazing over way to many for a horror book especially. This is sadly one I just can't recommend.

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oh man I really wanted to like this one. My gut was telling me to DNF it over and over again and I kept ignoring it, hoping it would get better, but nope. It didn't. And that really sucks because, in theory, it had the potential to be really good...

It's part eco horror, part oceanic horror, part cosmic horror, part social horror. and part pandy fiction, so at face value it has all the ingredients of something I would love but it just couldn't seem to pull it off.

An oyster farm is the site of the snail bite that sets the whole thing off - a woman gets bit, if bit is the right word, and she basically becomes comatose while more and more of the things crawl on and into her. Her boss attempts to save her and gets bit as well. She vanishes into the water while he becomes something else entirely. Like a patient zero or super boss kind of thing. And then within no time, it spreads to the townspeople who begin deading... seizing, foaming at the mouth, falling down dead on to the ground, only to stand back up a few minutes later and go back to their lives as if nothing happened. The sea town quickly quarantined by the government, who begin to monitor them with drones, and the residents begin breaking themselves off into two groups - those who dead, now referred to as Risers, and those who don't, the uninfected. And those who don't... are beginning to fear for their lives.

Sounds so good right?! God I wish it was. It meandered a lot, there were whole entire sections that focused on birding (I mean, the cover, which is gorgeous btw, even has one on it) but it felt very loose and disconnected and didn't spend a lot of time on the actual deading. What caused it? Where did the virus, if it is a virus, come from? Why do those who are infected keep deading and rising? Where do they "go" when they die each time? Why doesn't the government actually go in and test or check on them? Why... why... why???


For the social horror part, think Jose Saramago's Blindness and Seeing but not nearly as good.

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Very good unique horror story.
Couldn't stop reading.

Well written and unique.
I would highly recommend it.

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genre:%0AScience%20fiction%0AHorror%0AEco%20horror%0AGen%20adult%20fiction%20%0ASpeculative%20fiction%0A%0ALike%20a%20cross%20between%3A%0AStephen%20King%E2%80%99s%20Under%20The%20Dome%20%0AHorror%20Movie%20-Slither%20(2006)%0ALovecraftian%20cosmic%20horror%20monster%20%0AContainment%20tv%20series%20%0ABirdwatching%20guide/how%20to%20for%20dummies%0A%0A%0AThis%20book%20was%20an%20interesting%20read%20but%20not%20a%20book%20I%20would%20probably%20read%20again.%20It%20started%20well,%20and%20it%20was%20interesting%20enough%20for%20me%20to%20keep%20reading%20until%20the%20end.%20It%20is%20told%20through%20the%20perspective%20of%20multiple%20different%20characters%20which%20at%20times%20can%20be%20exciting%20and%20propel%20the%20narrative%20forward%20but%20other%20times%20almost%20seems%20to%20slow%20the%20pace%20and%20take%20the%20story%20on%20irrelevant%20detours.%20I%20found%20it%20heavily%20focused%20on%20birdwatching,%20which%20seemed%20well%20researched%20but%20at%20times%20got%20a%20bit%20slow%20to%20read%20and%20lost%20my%20attention.%20The%20downfall%20of%20the%20town%20and%20breaking%20apart%20of%20social%20norms,%20beliefs%20and%20values%20was%20interesting.%20I%20agree%20that%20it%20is%20somewhat%20similar%20to%20Under%20the%20Dome%20by%20Stephen%20king%20as%20the%20town%20is%20cut%20off%20from%20the%20rest%20of%20the%20world%20and%20as%20things%20like%20gas,%20cellphones,%20tv%20and%20radio%20fail%20the%20people%20become%20more%20a%20danger%20to%20others%20than%20the%20deading%20itself.%20And%20the%20deading%20becomes%20a%20way%20of%20dividing%20society%20into%20a%20new%20hierarchical%20system.%20Its%20vague%20ending%20leaves%20room%20for%20a%20sequel%20as%20it%20doesn%E2%80%99t%20seem%20to%20have%20a%20concrete%20resolution.. I got this book as an ebook arc copy from netgalley.

For fans of:
The Last of Us
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Slither (film)

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A blend of Stephen King’s Under the Dome and the eerie atmosphere of Annihilation, The Deading plunges readers into a harrowing dystopian tale set in a seaside town infected by a mysterious ocean-borne contagion.As sea snails wash ashore, initiating a chain reaction of transformation among the wildlife and residents of Baywood, the once idyllic town descends into chaos. Caught in the crosshairs are Blas, the introverted bird enthusiast, and his cynical brother Chango, who must navigate a landscape of paranoia, isolation, and death-worshiping cults.Tensions reach a fever pitch as the survivors grapple with the choice between escape and assimilation into this new, terrifying reality. Claustrophobic and haunting, yet infused with moments of soulful introspection, The Deading is a lyrical exploration of societal disintegration, the horror of survival, and the resilience found in human and natural connections. Prepare to be spellbound from beginning to end.

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This was an interesting premise, using current climate concerns to launch a sci-fi/horror tale. Unfortunately, I think it fell flat in the execution.
At times it was almost too technical, attempting to introduce or teach the reader about so many birds. There were just so many that it became hard to keep track.

The plot lines felt disjointed, like maybe the ARC was put out before the part that makes it all cohesive was written. While it makes sense that there would be cults and fanatics following such an event, these felt like parts of stories that never made it to completion.

2 stars – this one still needs a lot of work.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the Publisher for this eARC in exchange for my honest opinions.

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I’ll go with the bad first: it’s way overwritten. There are just too many words, too much info dumping, too much exposition. You could cut the book by a third and it would have no impact on the plot’s development.

Despite that I don’t actually want to discourage people from reading this book because as far as eco-body-horror stories go, it’s bit of a banger. The story structure itself is somewhat experimental; there are multiple POVs, including third person, first person, and a Greek chorus of sorts. The author explores the way Baywood is stratified by age, class, and race and the impact the isolation and deading phenomenon have on this structure very well. In addition, the horror is actually horrifying.

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First, I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the chance to read an ARC of this book.

This book would be 2.5 stars for me, but I can't justify bumping it up to 3 as it doesn't meet my other 3-star ratings for this year. I think this book had a lot of potential. It has an interesting premise, one that is highly topical for this day and age, but the execution still needs some polishing. I always strive for constructive feedback, so here we go.

I'll start with something many have mentioned, the list of birds. I know nothing about bird watching, but I'm not complaining because there was information I didn't know, it is was just the sheer number of bird names thrown at you on one page. When I first started reading, I was trying to look up the birds mentioned but the first page I got to that was nothing but different bird names, I gave up. Instead, I picked one from the list, looked it up, and kept that in my mind's eye so I could stay in the story, and honestly, I think that is more work than most readers will give. An idea I thought might be good, was instead of having those black feathers at the beginning of each chapter, what about sketches from Blas' journal? That way readers can digest information in chunks and get closer to Blas at the same time. I know that would probably add a hefty sum to the production budget but it would be a cool feature and of course, the author could just limit the number of birds listed at one time. That would help too. Though I do get the sense the author likes lists, even in situations where Blas or Chango are making decisions or thinking of things that might happen, it's just long lists. I anxiously overthink, but even I choose to stick to one bad idea and obsess over that instead of seven different ones.

The next thing I would say is that the book needs to integrate its plotlines better. All of its ideas are interesting but put together in the way they are, there's no room to breathe. It was like everything happened but also nothing. We have the alien life form, the AI drones, the birds, the non-deaders, the Risers, the cult, the Dead of Night (?) club, the Brujho, and whatever is happening to Chango. At no point do any of these crossover in a meaningful way. They are just happening at the same time. This is bizarre given it was one entity that kick-started all of this. Plus, our main characters seemed determined to avoid the madness of it all, which deprives us of experiencing the downfall of Baywood. If it weren't for Kumi or Ingram, everything in the book would be told to us through secondhand accounts given to Blas. I think both Blas and the entity need to take more of a lead throughout the book so we can experience and learn about this chaotic new world. This would also, hopefully, lead to a stronger conclusion, one that clearly outlines what forces Blas' loved ones were consumed by and what world is left for them to face.

The last thing I'll mention is please remove those 3rd person POV chapters. Every time I muttered, "WTF," was during one of those chapters. I don't know if it's wishful thinking, but I spend my Monday - Friday with teenagers, and they do not talk like that. From the manifesto chapter to the setting up of the cult, I was completely bewildered by them. It took me right out of the story, and if Blas and the entity were stronger characters we wouldn't need these chapters. We could experience the tight-knit group of teenagers through Blas or maybe the entity could bemoan the perversion of his goals as the cult grows. We wouldn't need the most bizarre narrator I've ever come across to tell us about these developments.

I really did want to enjoy this book and I love the themes, but the book just needs a bit more TLC before I would read it again. I would read the author's future works though, because I love the mix of biological issues with horror. This is even something the author touched upon in his author's note, that horror is a mirror, and it can be a powerful one when touching upon important subjects. I think his heart and mind are in the perfect place, and I wish the author all of the best luck with his debut.

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Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington for providing an advanced copy of this title.

The blurbs of The Deading compares the title to that of Under the Dome and Annihilation. In a way, this is true, but only if the format was that of very intimate POV essays & poetry about isolation, climate change, and birdwatching. The narrative is very fractal, but not in a way where you can say forgive the format. The constant shifting makes if very hard to follow and keep yourself in the action.

I would be interested in reading Nicholas Belardes in a smaller format (i.e. essays covering topics intimately - like gonzo journalism), but definietly not in the genre of Sci-Fi Horror.

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