cover image The Violence

The Violence

Delilah Dawson. Del Rey, $28 (512p) ISBN 978-0-593-15662-9

A very different pandemic sweeps the world in this un-put-downable near-future thriller from Dawson (the Blud series). Coming just on the heels of Covid-19, the Violence is aptly named for its main symptom: sudden acts of astonishing aggression called “storms” that always leave someone dead. Those infected have no memory of their outbursts, and the attacks have no clear trigger. The world navigates this horrible plague with quarantine protocols and hotlines, as the wealthy flock to colder environments, where the Violence hasn’t yet reached, and shell out for the $30,000 vaccine. Meanwhile, Chelsea Martin sees in the Violence a way out from under the thumb of her abusive husband, David, for both herself and her two daughters. She reports David to a hotline for suspected Violence sufferers, but even after he’s locked away, Chelsea’s hounded by his horrible friends. Then Chelsea is separated from her girls under suspicion of being infected herself. Now, she’ll do anything to reunite with her family. Dawson doesn’t hold back in her graphic depictions of domestic abuse, but the violence never feels gratuitous, clarifying the high stakes of this smart, fast-paced thrill ride. Fans of dystopian sci-fi stories will devour this. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (Feb.)