The Violence

Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 18:22 hrs. ISBN 9780593456040. $25. THRILLER
Dawson’s (Black Spire) latest is a more down-to-earth tale of pandemic horror. This story focuses on three generations of Florida women: homemaker Chelsea Martin, her judgmental mother Patricia, and Chelsea’s teenage daughter Ella. For years, Chelsea has been locked in an abusive marriage, until the emergence of a new disease called the Violence, which makes infected people explode into bursts of rage that can be lethal to anyone nearby. As the Violence spreads, it upends the social order and the lives of these three women. Dawson shows a penchant for describing brutality, especially the various physical and emotional violence inflicted by the men in these women’s lives. Narrator Hillary Huber gives all these characters, particularly the female characters, their own unique voices, from the haughty tones of Patricia to the high-pitched, halting words of Chelsea’s youngest daughter Brooklyn. The novel is not just about this deadly disease; the Violence is a catalyst that allows Chelsea and her family to embark on their own life-changing adventures.
VERDICT The message of Dawson’s thriller is surprisingly hopeful, but the road to that message is bloody, dark, and difficult.
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