Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray
Date of publication: February 1st, 2022
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Suspense
A mysterious plague that causes random bouts of violence is sweeping the nation. Now three generations of women must navigate their chilling new reality in this moving exploration of identity, cycles of abuse, and hope.
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 home 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–until 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.
The first recorded incidence of the Violence occurred as Ruth Belmont of Land O’Lakes, Florida, was putting a tub of mayonnaise in her cart at a warehouse store on Tuesday, April 15th, 2025.the violence by delilah s dawson
When I read the blurb for The Violence, I was instantly intrigued. But, I was also a little hesitant to read it. I was intrigued by the last few books that I did not like. So, keeping that in mind, I dove into The Violence. To say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. I loved this book!!
The Violence is a dystopia set in 2025 Florida. In this world, we have learned to live with COVID and adapted our lives around it. Life has gotten back to normal when news reports start talking about people randomly attacking and killing people. These random attacks soon become commonplace, and a new pandemic is announced. As with the COVID pandemic, its seriousness is downplayed until it is out of control.
The Violence centers around three people and follows them from the pandemic’s start to the end. Chelsea is a stay-at-home mother trapped in an abusive marriage. She dreams of getting out and saving her girls but can’t because her husband would destroy her. So, when The Violence starts, Chelsea uses that to her advantage. Ella is Chelsea’s seventeen-year-old daughter who has witnessed her mother’s abuse for years. She is caught up in an abusive relationship herself but breaks it off when her abuser is caught on camera (and in a public place) beating on her. Patricia is Chelsea’s narcissist mother. She is more concerned with maintaining appearances than helping her daughter and granddaughters escape their abuser. The Violence brings them together unexpectedly, but it also tears them apart. With Chelsea on the run, Ella looking for her, it is up to Patricia to keep Brooklyn safe. But who will keep Patricia safe? And will Chelsea ever get free from her ex? Will Ella find her mother before her father does? What happens when everything comes to a head?
The Violence had a lightening fast storyline. I had zero issues keeping up with how fast the storyline went. Surprisingly, there is no lag. This story didn’t stop. Put it this way, I read it in one night; that’s how fast it went.
Before I get deeper into the review, I want to give everyone a trigger warning heads-up. This book is graphically violent (hence the title). The author doesn’t hold any punches when infected people storm (when they blackout and kill people). She also doesn’t hold back during the abuse scenes. At the beginning of the book, there is a forward explaining why she wrote those scenes the way she did. But still didn’t prepare me for how graphic those scenes were. There is also scenes of verbal abuse (Patricia remembering calling toddler Chelsea stupid stuck out to me), sexual abuse (Chelsea getting raped by David), emotional abuse (Hayden telling Ella he was going to kill himself if she didn’t respond to his text), and animal abuse (David kicking the family dog every time he saw him and that awful scene when Chelsea blacked out). Those examples are only scratching the surface of this book. So read with caution if any of these triggers you.
I loved and pitied Chelsea. I hate to say it, but the way her mother treated her growing up paved the way for her to be in an abusive relationship with David. My heart broke for her during those first few scenes when David choked her. The author made me feel the horror and desperation she went through. I did think she was genius for her plan to get David taken away, and Ella’s 911 call only cemented it. But it was a short-lived plan, and she was getting threatened by David’s friends (one a lawyer and one a cop). When she ended up getting The Violence, she did what any mother would do, she shut herself away, and when she got word that her ex was coming home, she ran to her mother. But, it was what happened after she left the girls at her mother’s. I was equally shouting “Yas girl” and cringing at what she was doing. The name Florida Woman will forever be associated with her.
My heart broke for Ella. She was such a broken child, and I wanted to spirit her away from her family. She had no safe space for her to decompress. Instead, she went from school (where her friends and abusive boyfriend were) to home, where she had to worry about her father potentially killing her mother. She also was tasked with keeping her 5-year-old sister safe and away from her father at night. That meant locking herself and Brooklyn in her room at night. But, that all changed when her father was arrested, and her mother got The Violence. Ella became Brooklyn’s parent. I didn’t blame her for getting angry when Chelsea decided (after finding out that David was getting out of jail) to move them to Patricia’s. I also didn’t blame her for leaving to find Chelsea because Patricia was awful. It showed how much she had grown. But, it was when she stumbled upon the RV and got hooked up with the scientists that she started to blossom. She became that strong, independent girl that she should have been from the start.
I was not too fond of Patricia. OMG, I wanted to go into the book and strangle her at points. She was one of the more awful people that I have ever read. The way she ignored Chelsea’s bruises and how she talked to Chelsea was horrible. Everything was about appearances to her. But, as her backstory was revealed, I did start to feel sorry for her. Her abusive childhood and rape (which resulted in Chelsea) shaped her. She modeled the only behavior that she knew, verbal and emotional abuse. When she took in Ella and Brooklyn, I could see cracks in her facade. And when she was left to care for Brooklyn, those cracks became bigger and bigger. Her character growth and transformation was one of the more surprising ones I read. I loved how she ended up.
Brooklyn was adorable. I was so surprised that she wasn’t more traumatized. I mean, she witnessed her father almost killing her mother. She was uprooted from her house and lived with her grandmother, who was distant and cold. Then, Ella, her protector, leaves. Instead of acting out, having tantrums, or regressing, she remained normal. The only sign the author gave that she had been traumatized was the nightmares she had while sleeping in Patricia’s closet. My heart (and Patricia’s) broke when I realized who she was talking about and what. But other than that, there was nothing.
The secondary characters did round out the book. They all added an extra depth that the book needed.
The horror angle was well written. As I mentioned above, there was a lot of gore and violence associated with this book. The author got in-depth with the gore. I did think certain scenes could have been toned down, but then they wouldn’t have had the punch that they did.
The mystery angle was also very well written. I couldn’t figure out what would happen next in the book. After a certain point, I couldn’t figure out if everyone would come together and when.
The end of The Violence was, well, violent. I will not say much about it except that David got what was coming to him. I also liked the epilogue, showing where everyone was. It gave me hope for all the characters.
I would recommend The Violence for anyone over 21. There is graphic violence, language, and graphic accounts of sexual assault.