This week’s Biblioshelf Musings are about The Violent Season by Sara Walters. I first heard about this book through the SourceBooks Fire newsletter. They included a brief sampler and after reading the blurb and the first chapter or so I requested an eARC through Netgalley which was thankfully approved!
Huge thanks to NetGalley, Sara Walters and the publishers SourceBooks Fire for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.
Book: The Violent Season by Sara Walters
Genre: YA / Thriller
Publication Date: October 5th 2021
Publisher: SourceBooks Fire
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
An unputdownable debut about a town marred by violence, a girl ruined by grief, and the harsh reality about what makes people decide to hurt each other. The Violent Season is a searing, unforgettable, and thrilling novel that belongs on shelf with Sadie and Girl in Pieces.
Every November, the people in Wolf Ridge are overwhelmed with a hunger for violence–at least that’s the town rumor. Last fall Wyatt Green’s mother was brutally murdered, convincing Wyatt that this yearning isn’t morbid urban legend, but rather a palpable force infecting her neighbors.
This year, Wyatt fears the call of violence has spread to her best friend Cash–who also happens to be the guy she can’t stop wanting no matter how much he hurts her. At the same time, she’s drawn to Cash’s nemesis Porter, now that they’re partners on an ambitious project for lit class. When Wyatt pulls away from Cash, and spends more time with Porter, she learns secrets about both of them she can’t forget.
And as the truth about her mother’s death begins to emerge from the shadows, Wyatt is faced with a series of hard realities about the people she trusts the most, rethinking everything she believes about what makes people decide to hurt each other.
When I first heard about this book, it sounded like an eclectic mix of The Purge mixed with a science-fiction worthy violence-virus which infected a town each November leaving a lot of devastation in it’s wake. In truth, the main focus of this book is really about the emotions and trauma we feel when we experience pain, hurt and suffering at the hands of the people we love, or even ourselves.
This novel definitely earns it’s place amongst the thriller section of the YA genre. We are led on a spiral of events and revelations which keep twisting and turning as the novel progresses. I kept coming up with little theories about who did what or which characters I could trust but then as the plot got deeper I found myself constantly changing my mind! The pace kept me on my toes right up until the very final pages and the ending left me with with a haunting sense of foreboding which is perfectly in-keeping with the upcoming spooky season.
As the leading character, the story is told through Wyatt’s perspective and everything that happens in the story we witness simultaneously through her eyes, emotions and actions. This made her narrative particularly powerful to me as the pain and suffering she experiences comes across so raw, brutal and honest. Some of the things that her character went through made me feel for her and at times I just had to stop and think about how some of these things are the harsh reality of life for people all over the world.
In places, you experience the flip-flopping of Wyatt’s personas – from that tough-girl stance of self-belief and personal empowerment, to the crippling feelings of anxiety and doubt that you put on yourself when you’re facing inner turmoil. Walters’ writing really communicated those feelings of suffering strongly enough to make me consciously feel them.
In some ways, Wyatt almost takes on the role of unreliable narrator too, which may seem odd given that I’ve just described her perspective as brutally honest – however… Wyatt’s recollection of her Mother’s death is hazy and some parts of it have been blocked out of her mind completely. As she gradually begins to remember more and and reconnect those lost memories, we also start to find out how she genuinely believes that there is some strange and mysterious sickness causing the season of violence each November. On the one hand you want to believe her, but then on the other hand – some part of you starts to doubt whether she’s not just creating a false narrative because she can’t bear the actual reality of the truth. The depth of Wyatt’s character is so wide that I think it’s the part of this book that I liked the most.
The relationship between Wyatt and Cash takes many turns during the course of the plot. I feel it’s safe to say that this is an extremely harmful relationship which comes with several trigger warnings. This is countered slightly through Wyatt’s reconnection with Porter who, although has secrets of his own, forms as the counter to Cash.
The Violent Season is a powerful standalone thriller which transforms an urban legend into the harrowing reality of just how deeply grief, trauma and violence can affect a person, especially when it is dealt out by the ones we love the most.
Why Should I Read This?
For a slightly unreliable yet brutally honest main character who transports you from her deepest pit of pain to a place of self-love and empowerment.
For the nod to Great Gatsby in the middle of the book.
For an interesting concept of how violence can be construed as a sickness.
Read a sampler:
You can read an excerpt of this book here: https://read.sourcebooks.com/fire-a-violent-season-excerpt