Cover Image: The Deading

The Deading

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DNF at 50%. I like the concept, and parts of it were enjoyable, but there was just far too much information about birds that I didn't find engaging. I wanted to give it a genuine shot, but it really just did not keep my attention or interest unfortunately.

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The Deading" by Nicholas Belardes is a dystopian novel that combines horror and science fiction elements to tell the harrowing tale of a seaside town, Baywood, facing a mysterious ocean-borne contagion. The story explores the downward spiral of the town as it becomes infected, transforming its wildlife, landscapes, and people.

The narrative introduces a unique concept where infected residents undergo a process called "deading," where they collapse and die, only to rise again changed, both fanatically and physically. As the government cuts off the town from the rest of the world, tensions rise, and disturbing beliefs and autocratic rituals emerge, overseen by the death-worshiping Risers.

The central characters include Blas, an introverted bird lover, and his older brother Chango, who must navigate the chaos to survive. The author weaves a claustrophobic and haunting atmosphere throughout the story, exploring the disintegration of society, the horror of survival and adaptation, and the unexpected solace found through connections in nature and between humans.

While the premise is intriguing, the execution has received mixed reviews from readers. Some appreciate the atmospheric tension and thought-provoking elements, especially in the latter part of the novel. However, others find fault in the writing style, citing issues such as the insertion of oyster and bird facts in a disruptive manner, making it challenging to follow the story. Some readers also mention a lack of clarity in certain plot points, leaving questions unanswered.

Despite the criticisms, the book has its merits, and readers who enjoy dystopian fiction with a blend of horror and science fiction may find "The Deading" to be a compelling read. It offers a unique take on the genre, and its exploration of societal disintegration and the impact of a mysterious contagion adds depth to the narrative.

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I'm not quite sure how to review this work. It was not my cup of tea due to a misunderstanding on the subject matter - the description of the Last of Us x Under the Dome made me think of the book as an action-filled post apocalyptic romp, similarly to the 2 referenced works. However, the book is a lot slower in both pacing and action, and I did not realise there would be such a heavy emphasis on the more science-y aspects of this apocalypse. As such, my interest was not really piqued, and I stopped reading around 40% through.

However, I'm also aware that there are people who are very interested when books have a heavier reliance on concrete science in post apocalyptic fiction, as they believe it adds added realism. Those people would be much more likely to enjoy this work.

Not my personal cup of tea, but I can see how others would like this. I will say that the beginning was very slow, and a bit of a slog to get through. However, the characters were engaging, and I was interested enough in them to stick with the story to its halfway point despite not being very interested in the plot.

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Man, this book sounded SO up my alley. Eco-horror, a bit of cult horror, a bunch of birdwatchers and bird references, a literary tone, and a healthy dose of anti-government sentiment and you have a cocktail for what could be one of Bebo's favorites.

Alas, I feel rather ambivalent towards this one. It wasn't horrible at all, and I really did enjoy the prose. I just immediately felt myself lose interest once we got into more sci-fi territory. My need for clarity/concreteness also reared its head when this book failed to answer my many questions about who is targeted by the deading, what the actual goal of the thing that was once Bernhard was, why the cult formed in the first place, what happened to Ingram, and so on.

I was also a bit confused by the narration of this book because of the shift in perspectives without actually revealing who was talking. While I don't mind a good mystery, I do need some clarification because I am a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

All in all, a bit disappointed by this one. It definitely could have been worse though.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of the Deading.

As a scientist, the author note alone was a fascinating read. As a life long bird nerd. This book spoke to me at many levels. And boy does this go hard on the birding.

That said. It is a hard read. Particularly in the way it feels like the Blair Witch project in written media. Oh and did I mention the birds. Lots of birds.
It's starts as describing Deading the macabre form of planking. Then has an essay on climate change. Then the real deading. The adoption of the teen cult. Little is done to link all those things together. And while I appreciate the deliberately through the looking glass narrative, and that it was also deliberately confusing, it had no real resolution to that. Was this evolution gone wrong under the influence of climate change. Or was it aliens. Who knows. I don't. Honestly this book has a lot of tangents unreigned. And characters without real identities. Blas being the most developed character, a probably autistic kid obsessed with birds.

The positive are, I enjoyed the writing. It was about the mood. The ambiance. I get that.
It's a niche read.

Review also posted on my Goodreads account.

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Received as an ARC from NetGalley and Kensington/Erewhon Books in exchange for an honest review (thank you, both).

The cover and blurb for the book sucked me in, thinking this would be science fiction body horror, reminiscent of Annihilation meets The Birds. Instead the book focused mainly on birding, scientific descriptions of birds and aquatic animals, and members of the cult-like "Risers" affected by the alien phenomenon when I'd hoped the book would go into more detail on the body horror and the character of Bernhard.

The Deading begins with body horror, and a truly terrifying experience with snails that has made me a little fearful of the slimy creatures, but after the first few chapters the story seems to take a complete turn. I wanted to learn more about Bernhard and Chango's transformations and the entity but we barely got any time with the most interesting characters.

With six different perspectives - four in third person and two in first person (with one of those perspectives being an unnamed character) - it was hard to keep up with what was happening in the story.

As much as I hoped to like The Deading, it wasn't for me.

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The Deading
Debut Novel by Nicholas Belardes
Release Date: July 23, 2024

Following an ecological disaster, the residents of a coastal town are struck by a phenomenon they refer to as Deading. They collapse, seemingly dead, only to rise again some time later with a secret knowledge that resembles a spiritual awakening. This awakening isn’t as divine as it first seems. Things go dark in a hurry, especially for those who cannot die and rise again at will.

I would label this story as part Eco Horror, part Sci-fi. It gave me strong Annihilation vibes, but it was definitely its own thing. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The imagery was both beautiful and terrifying. The writing had almost a musicality to it, a certain cadence, which took some getting used to, but ultimately, I liked it.

I’ll admit there were times when I felt this novel was smarter than me. I’m a nature lover, but some of the ornithology/birdwatcher talk went over my head. There was also this vastness to the novel that I was drawn to, but I don’t think I was quite grasping, if that makes any sense. But perhaps that is the point? Nature is vast and unknowable.

Despite feeling slightly confused at times, this book hooked me. As the story progresses, the stakes kept rising, and I *had* to know what would happen. It was a weird, bird-filled ride from the very first page, and I kinda loved it. My only real complaint is that I wish there had been more to the ending. I was definitely left wondering about several things.


Plot: 🦅🦅🦅🦅 /5
Characters: 🕊️🕊️🕊️🕊️ /5
Weirdness: 🦆🦆🦆🦆 /5
Ending: 🦃🦃 /5
Overall: 🦜🦜🦜.75 /5

Thanks to NetGalley, Erewhon Books, and Nicholas Belardes for allowing me to read an advance digital copy!

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Full disclosure: I DNF’ed at about 34% read.

The cover art and blurb were enough to draw me in and request an arc (thank you!). However, the book just never really grabbed my interest- the POV switches and the very slow start to the story made it a struggle.

There’s definitely interesting ideas in the book, but the execution just didn’t land for me.

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The Deading sounded absolutely amazing but sadly I did not enjoy it...
The one thing I really liked was the cover as it is stunning!
I really struggled to finish this book as i found it both confusing and boring.
I also didn't love the writing style or characters.
I sadly can't recommend this book.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a review.

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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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