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Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing an ARC In exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: October 5th, 2021

320 Pages

Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)

Sarah Walter’s debut, The Violent Season, isn’t perfect, but it is a compulsive and memorable read that will appeal to many YA fans.

Wyatt and her self-destructive behavior had me wanting to both hug her and slap her throughout the book. Her toxic relationship with Cash is cringeworthy at times, but despite being 56-years-old I do remember being a teenager and having a friend in somewhat similar circumstances. That said, some of her actions are over-the-top melodramatic and difficult to understand. Cash, as the “bad boy” of the story, I wish had been developed a little more. After finding out a little of his family history, I needed to know more about what made him tick, particularly as more of the mystery began to be revealed. Porter, the third in the love triangle, I actually liked the best. I was half expecting him to be the blandly popular jock persona you find so often in YA fiction, but he was surprisingly complex. 

The mystery itself is a little predictable in someways and I figured out the identity of the main villain fairly early on. However, the twisty path getting to the answers kept me turning the pages and I easily finished this in two sittings. The ending tied everything up neatly, but because I grew to care about Wyatt I found myself wishing for it to be fleshed out a little more.

Overall, The Violent Season, has much to recommend about it including the realistic way it tackles some of its darker themes such as: death of a parent, drug use, toxic relationships, sexual assault, self harm, mental illness, trauma, and suicide. If I were still a children’s/YA librarian, this would be a book I’d definitely be adding to our collection for those 14+.