The Violence by Delilah Dawson is a surreal novel where the world has just healed from the Covid pandemic. Now it is set upon by the sudden appearance of a new and lethal disease. The Violence is the new pandemic in town. It causes people to lose control and inflict lethal violence upon whoever is nearest to them. We follow the journey of three family members as they navigate this new disease as well as their history of abuse, neglect, and future growth. Continue reading to get my take on The Violence.
Chelsea Martin appears to be the perfect housewife: married to her high school sweetheart, the mother of two daughters, keeper of an immaculate home.
But Chelsea’s husband has turned their house into a prison; he has been abusing her for years, cutting off her independence, autonomy, and support. She has nowhere to turn, not even to her narcissistic mother, Patricia, who is more concerned with maintaining the appearance of an ideal family than she is with her daughter’s actual well-being. And Chelsea is worried that her daughters will be trapped just as she is–then a mysterious illness sweeps the nation.
Known as The Violence, this illness causes the infected to experience sudden, explosive bouts of animalistic rage and attack anyone in their path. But for Chelsea, the chaos and confusion the virus causes is an opportunity–and inspires a plan to liberate herself from her abuser.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
The Violence by Delilah Dawson has an interesting premise with the introduction of a new pandemic, from which the novel gets its title, right after the end of the Covid pandemic. What seems to be a novel that will focus on using the Violence as a way for Chelsea to remove her and her family from an abusive husband, actually turns out to mainly be about healing from trauma, the reunification of family, and repairing broken familial relations. I will say the summary really does not do the plot justice.
I really liked the creation of the characters, they felt very unique and genuine. Switching the POV for each chapter, as a reader, you could rather easily tell who the narrator was. The characters were so distinct from each other. I also enjoyed the fact that this type of narration was multi-generational with the grandmother through to the older granddaughter.
The Violence brought to light many concerns in the Covid era, such as income stability and domestic abuse. Before the novel even opens, Dawson reveals her own experiences living in an abusive household at the hands of her father and how that impacted her life and her relationship with her mother. This is definitely present throughout the novel, making me hope that this was a cathartic exercise for her. It is an incredibly sensitive and difficult topic but of the greatest importance. I think that brought some authenticity and gravitas to this aspect of the novel.
At times The Violence felt like a truly apocalyptic scenario with people abandoning homes, not being able to get in contact with people, and thus not being able to know if they are alive or not. Then at other times, it felt like life was normal. This did kinda feel like how the Covid pandemic has been with the attempts to get back to normal. It did not, however, translate over well to this type of pandemic where people will literally kill you with no warning or catalyst.
I guess this brings me to the main setback I had with this novel. It seemed to start off very quickly at the beginning and was fast-moving. Then at some point in the early middle, it suddenly became slow. I think it has to do with switching between pandemic apocalypse to social maneuvering at the local country club. Again, the plot summary makes it seem as though this is going to be a fast-moving and intense plot. Don’t get me wrong, it does have its moments. It does seem like the summary misses major aspects of the novel, which had actually ended up being some of the most powerful parts of The Violence.
I think the pace was really my only concern with The Violence, otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will say it was definitely not what I thought it was going to be when reading the summary. It was still a novel with an important message regarding family and the traumas of abuse.