Page Count 512
Publication date September 2022
Publisher Titan Books
-When Chelsea Martin kisses her husband hello at the door of their perfect home, a chilled bottle of beer in hand and dinner on the table, she may look like the ideal wife, mother, and homemaker—but in fact she’s following an unwritten rulebook, carefully navigating David’s stormy moods in a desperate nightly bid to avoid catastrophe. If family time doesn’t go exactly the way David wants, bad things happen—to Chelsea, and to the couple’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Ella. Cut off from all support, controlled and manipulated for years, Chelsea has no resources and no one to turn to. Her wealthy, narcissistic mother, Patricia, would rather focus on the dust on her chandelier than acknowledge Chelsea’s bruises. After all, Patricia’s life looks perfect on the surface, too.
But the façade crumbles when a mysterious condition overtakes the nation. Known as the Violence, it causes the infected to experience sudden, explosive bursts of animalistic rage and attack anyone in their path. The ensuing chaos brings opportunity for Chelsea—and inspires a plan to liberate herself and her family once and for all.
So much of The Violence is a knife to the heart. I was amazed by the speed and potency at which I invested in Chelsea and her daughters. The cruelty they’re continuously dealt by the very people that are supposed to love and protect them is both devastating and terrifying.
Told in third we follow three generations of women in the Martin family; Chelsea, Ellie and Patricia. All of whom have been oppressed and abused by men and are now separately fighting to survive their own predicaments in a world infected by obscene uncontrollable violence.
Dawson did a fantastic job with the character development of all three women, but Patricia stood out most. After igniting my instant hatred of the grandmother with her appalling behaviour, Dawson gently and slowly dismantled my first opinions leaving me surprised to care as much for Patricia as the others.
Most of the men in The Violence whilst heavily stereotyped were still terrifying, their actions and motives so true to life it almost hurt to read. Dawson balances this well with the found-family trope I can never resist; a group of damaged outcasts supporting and caring for one another. The beauty in this plot line replenishes hope in humanity and gives the reader some much needed relief from the bleak desperation of a world gone mad.
I wasn’t a fan of the frequent comparison between Florida during the fictional Violence virus and Florida during Covid. Though it may be a handy benchmark to use when describing the state of the world I prefer books not raise it quite as often as Dawson does here. I read for escapism and certainly not to be reminded of what we’ve been living through.
This was just a minor personal annoyance, I’ve actually seen many reviewers state the opposite; some prefer to see Covid mentioned in modern day stories.
I adored everything about The Violence. It’s well written with perfect pacing, believable characters, intense emotion and the perfect ending.
*You’ll need to stomach some extreme brutality against people and animals but if you can handle that I highly recommend you pick this up.