Hot Best Seller

The Perishing

Availability: Ready to download
 

An extraordinary novel featuring a Black immortal in 1930's Los Angeles who must recover the memory of her past in order to save the world--from NAACP Image Award Nominee Natashia Deón, the author of Grace , a New York Times Best Book of the Year. Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles, nearly naked and with no mem An extraordinary novel featuring a Black immortal in 1930's Los Angeles who must recover the memory of her past in order to save the world--from NAACP Image Award Nominee Natashia Deón, the author of Grace , a New York Times Best Book of the Year. Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles, nearly naked and with no memory of how she got there or where she's from, only a fleeting sense that this isn't the first time she's found herself in similar circumstances. Taken in by a caring foster family, Lou dedicates herself to her education while trying to put her mysterious origins behind her. She'll go on to become the first Black female journalist at the Los Angeles Times, but Lou's extraordinary life is about to become even more remarkable. When she befriends a firefighter at a downtown boxing gym, Lou is shocked to realize that though she has no memory of ever meeting him she's been drawing his face since her days in foster care. Increasingly certain that their paths have previously crossed--perhaps even in a past life--and coupled with unexplainable flashes from different times that have been haunting her dreams, Lou begins to believe she may be an immortal sent to this place and time for a very important reason, one that only others like her will be able to explain. Relying on her journalistic training and with the help of her friends, Lou sets out to investigate the mystery of her existence and make sense of the jumble of lifetimes calling to her from throughout the ages before her time runs out for good. Set against the rich historical landscape of Depression-era Los Angeles, The Perishing charts a course through a changing city confronting racism, poverty, and the drumbeat of a coming war for one miraculous woman whose fate is inextricably linked to the city she comes to call home.


Compare

An extraordinary novel featuring a Black immortal in 1930's Los Angeles who must recover the memory of her past in order to save the world--from NAACP Image Award Nominee Natashia Deón, the author of Grace , a New York Times Best Book of the Year. Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles, nearly naked and with no mem An extraordinary novel featuring a Black immortal in 1930's Los Angeles who must recover the memory of her past in order to save the world--from NAACP Image Award Nominee Natashia Deón, the author of Grace , a New York Times Best Book of the Year. Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles, nearly naked and with no memory of how she got there or where she's from, only a fleeting sense that this isn't the first time she's found herself in similar circumstances. Taken in by a caring foster family, Lou dedicates herself to her education while trying to put her mysterious origins behind her. She'll go on to become the first Black female journalist at the Los Angeles Times, but Lou's extraordinary life is about to become even more remarkable. When she befriends a firefighter at a downtown boxing gym, Lou is shocked to realize that though she has no memory of ever meeting him she's been drawing his face since her days in foster care. Increasingly certain that their paths have previously crossed--perhaps even in a past life--and coupled with unexplainable flashes from different times that have been haunting her dreams, Lou begins to believe she may be an immortal sent to this place and time for a very important reason, one that only others like her will be able to explain. Relying on her journalistic training and with the help of her friends, Lou sets out to investigate the mystery of her existence and make sense of the jumble of lifetimes calling to her from throughout the ages before her time runs out for good. Set against the rich historical landscape of Depression-era Los Angeles, The Perishing charts a course through a changing city confronting racism, poverty, and the drumbeat of a coming war for one miraculous woman whose fate is inextricably linked to the city she comes to call home.

30 review for The Perishing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael David

    October BOTM selection. Lou is a young Black woman who wakes up in an alley. The year is 1931. She has no clue who she is or how she got there. She’s quickly placed with a foster family, and ends up becoming one of the first Black female journalists for the Los Angeles Times shortly after graduating high school. One thing leads to another, and Lou meets a firefighter that she’s sure she’s known before. She’s been sketching pictures of him, but has no clear recollection of him at first. On top of t October BOTM selection. Lou is a young Black woman who wakes up in an alley. The year is 1931. She has no clue who she is or how she got there. She’s quickly placed with a foster family, and ends up becoming one of the first Black female journalists for the Los Angeles Times shortly after graduating high school. One thing leads to another, and Lou meets a firefighter that she’s sure she’s known before. She’s been sketching pictures of him, but has no clear recollection of him at first. On top of that, she’s had dreams of herself in other lifetimes...from all over the land. Can she really be an immortal? I was extremely intrigued by the premise of this book, and I really enjoyed parts of it. Lou is smart and clear-headed, extremely likable, and such an interesting character as we read her thoughts. The beautiful and atmospheric writing, not to mention the short chapters, made it easy to glide through the story as I was eager to find out what was going on. However, my interest did waver on and off. We never really get to the main storyline until the last 20% or so. The book deals with tough and important topics and also discusses in great detail many historical events over the years. I appreciated that as I learned some new things to google that I hadn’t previously known about (and some I did know about). There are also varying timelines...some in the past and some in the future (if you’re reading it before 2117). While there were captivating moments, I couldn’t help but think the “immortality” thread took a back seat for most of it. I wish we could’ve delved more into that. Or I wish that plot was completely scrapped, and there was more focus on Lou living her life in the 1930’s. The adjective, ambitious, has been used in some of the reviews I read. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s quite the story, told in an almost quiet and whimsical way...but it may have been just a bit too quiet for me. While I don’t know who I’d recommend this book to, I definitely think it’s worthy of an audience. I look forward to reading more from author Natashia Deón. I absolutely love the dedication: “For you. I did it for me.” 2.5 stars rounded up. Available: 11/2/21. Review also posted at: https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Walworth

    This was a really tough read. I had an idea that THE PERISHING was going to be a really ambitious, interesting novel, but I don't think it came together in the way I was hoping it would. Or even in a way that made sense. The multiple POVs and time shifts could have been so compelling, could have told such a fascinating story spanning whole histories and lifetimes. But quirky plot concepts alone don't make a story great; well-told characters are the backbone, and I think the problem here is that L This was a really tough read. I had an idea that THE PERISHING was going to be a really ambitious, interesting novel, but I don't think it came together in the way I was hoping it would. Or even in a way that made sense. The multiple POVs and time shifts could have been so compelling, could have told such a fascinating story spanning whole histories and lifetimes. But quirky plot concepts alone don't make a story great; well-told characters are the backbone, and I think the problem here is that Lou never quite shimmered as a main character in the way I would have expected her to. I felt so disconnected from her the entire time I was reading that by the time she got around to unravelling the mystery of her existence in LITERALLY THE LAST FIFTY PAGES OF THE BOOK, I couldn't have cared less whether she was immortal or not, I just wanted to be finished with her. Simultaneously, Sarah's short chapters were mostly philosophical and ideological guideposts to what Lou was dealing with in her time period, containing more ideas than actual events, so there was a disconnect there as well. One of the novel's strengths was the historical element. Deon touched on several interesting, probably lesser-known historical events, such as the tragedy of the St Francis Dam and the murder of Latasha Harlins; additionally, the planning of Route 66 and the resulting displacement of L.A. minority communities formed a significant plot point, highlighting the rampant injustices dealt to migrant, native, and non-white communities by authority figures in Los Angeles (and, let's be honest, the whole goddamn country) in the early twentieth century (and, let's be honest, continuing right up until today, because we haven't learned a goddamn thing). This was interesting and heartbreaking and relevant, and the only reason this plot thread might have suffered is because, again, flat characters held the reader at a remove from the very real human tragedy that was endured. That said, much as I enjoyed the historical context, I did feel slightly misled because this was not marketed to me as historical fiction; it was marketed as speculative fiction, and the speculative element fell sooooooo short. It felt like a collection of great ideas, poorly fleshed out. And I don't know why, in a book dealing with very real social issues, it was deemed necessary to add a villain character whose motivations were of the Disney film variety (power for the sake of having power, and of being the only one with that power) when no other part of the book was about that. Or, at the very least, why it was deemed necessary to add him in in LITERALLY THE LAST FIFTY PAGES OF THE BOOK. (I will never get over it. Last-minute, out-of-nowhere plot twists make me want to die, can you tell?) But anyway.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Carroll

    I had extremely high hopes for this book. I chose it as my BOTM, because I am a lover of sci-fi(ish) and dystopian novels. Based off of the description, it sounded like this book would fit that genre. Which it did, to an extent, just very minimally. Just a heads up - if you enjoy reading to escape the current craziness of the reality that we live in, this book is not for you. While it is primarily set in the 1930’s, there is a lot of talk about pandemics, mask wearing, vaccines, and BLM. Which i I had extremely high hopes for this book. I chose it as my BOTM, because I am a lover of sci-fi(ish) and dystopian novels. Based off of the description, it sounded like this book would fit that genre. Which it did, to an extent, just very minimally. Just a heads up - if you enjoy reading to escape the current craziness of the reality that we live in, this book is not for you. While it is primarily set in the 1930’s, there is a lot of talk about pandemics, mask wearing, vaccines, and BLM. Which is all fine to an extent, but not when you’re reading to distract yourself from the world that we are living in. The book started with a prelude that was extremely confusing, especially without having any other context on the characters / plot of the book. As the book progressed, I felt as though I was just reading about the main character’s day-to-day life, with very little character or plot development. Occasionally, we would fast forward to the future to offer some (very minimal) insight into the main character’s future self. If I am being honest, the book did not get exciting until the last 20 or so pages, but by that point I was too far gone to even really care about what was happening. It took everything in me to finish this book! I would’ve loved to have seen more character development, and more context and reasons as to why the main character is immortal. Like why are there immortals? What purpose do they serve? Etc. Perhaps the author may be planning on writing a sequel to answer these questions. However, at the moment we are left with a lot of questions unanswered. In my opinion, the one really solid aspect of this book was its one liners. The author did offer a lot of great “quotable” sentences and phrases. So I do give her kudos for that. I am not one to often dislike books. In fact, I most often enjoy just about everything I read. So it was really disappointing for me to find such little enjoyment in this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    Wow. Ambitious. A combination of past, present, and future. A lot to unpack. So in that ambition is an inventiveness that demands an investment from the reader. Creating fans with her delicious prose always tinged with creative thoughts and dialogue. I am an enthusiastic fan of Natashia Deon, and I’m sure she is is the next big thing in fiction. This story of Lou, the Black immortal actually begins as Sarah in 2102 reminiscing about past husbands and as such, past lives. “Everybody I love dies an Wow. Ambitious. A combination of past, present, and future. A lot to unpack. So in that ambition is an inventiveness that demands an investment from the reader. Creating fans with her delicious prose always tinged with creative thoughts and dialogue. I am an enthusiastic fan of Natashia Deon, and I’m sure she is is the next big thing in fiction. This story of Lou, the Black immortal actually begins as Sarah in 2102 reminiscing about past husbands and as such, past lives. “Everybody I love dies and no matter. Most people won’t survive everyone who loves them. Our lives are meant to mimic a passing breeze that won’t return. Not me. I have to live with my losses forever. Life after life in new bodies, new cities, and new countries where I’ve always been Black, not always a woman. But people who are meant to be in our lives will find us. No matter how far we wander. Even if when we find each other we’re lost. Together.” That beautiful passage is the door that leads us to 1932, in Los Angeles, CA. Most of the book is written from this vantage point and we come to learn that the city looms large in the consciousness of Lou, she is attempting to locate her birth parents and gradually in that search begins to learn about who she is and what she is. The journey is filled with delicate and delectable prose, such that those who aren’t necessarily magical realism fans will be drawn in, because the writing is so strong. “Good decisions can’t be made in grief. Not really. Because emotions are an incomplete guide. Especially love. My kind of grief is continual because grief is the form love takes when someone dies. The emotion a confirmation of our humanity. Sometimes bubbling up, unexpected. We grieve the end and the future we’d imagined at the same time, even the conversation we’d hoped to have one day with the person, now lost. In grief, our weak phrases will fail us—the right words lost in some ancient tongue, prehistoric. I can’t find the words. Not even to comfort you.” I wrote a note after chapter 13, I said this chapter is worth rereading. It’s beautiful and poetic. I rarely make a note in a book to reread an entire chapter. But, people it was that good! Read this one! Thanks Ms. Deon for making me a fan!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    You should know up front that The Perishing is literary fiction with a speculative element, so if that's not your thing and you were hoping for something heavier on the SFF piece, it may not be for you. I really love the project of this book. We get a lot of stories about immortals and time travelers that romanticize the experience, often not taking into consideration the very different experiences Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have had throughout out history, not to mention queer You should know up front that The Perishing is literary fiction with a speculative element, so if that's not your thing and you were hoping for something heavier on the SFF piece, it may not be for you. I really love the project of this book. We get a lot of stories about immortals and time travelers that romanticize the experience, often not taking into consideration the very different experiences Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have had throughout out history, not to mention queer / gender non-conforming folks. This book takes that trope and upends thing by centering a person who, throughout her lives, is always Black and often (though not always) a woman. The bulk of this story follows her as Lou in 1930's Los Angeles, appearing as a tween girl with no memory who enters foster care. It's a genre blend that is heavily historical fiction, but includes pieces from the future and from even earlier in history as well. It's a book about trauma and oppression, primarily of the Black community, during that time. It also unpacks the vulnerability of showing up in time with no memory, especially if you aren't a white man. The author weaves in a lot of real world history and because the MC is a journalist, her researching and writing news stories is used as a way to share that information with the reader. At times this can be slow and meandering, but then a lot happens at the end. Some of which is a little confusing because the system of how this immortality functions isn't totally fleshed out. There are also some plot threads that fail to fully come together and might make the future parts of the book feel a bit disjointed. This is the sort of book that either will or won't be your thing, but if it sounds of interest I think it's worth a try. It touches on a lot of topics that are relevant to the world today, while also teaching about the past. The audio narration is beautifully done! I received an audio review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Content warnings include suicidal ideation, self-harm, attempted sexual assault, racial violence, mention of abortion, loss of a loved one, grief, death of children....

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ric

    I wanted to like this book so much more than I did, but it just wasn’t an enjoyable read at all. The summary sounded so good, but that part of the story didn’t happen until 120 pages in. And even then, it seemed more background than anything else. The main focus was Lou’s life in the 1930s, which was actually pretty good and would’ve made a really good story on its own without the 2102 interludes. My thing was it felt like a different story than it was marketed to be, and it wrapped up so quickl I wanted to like this book so much more than I did, but it just wasn’t an enjoyable read at all. The summary sounded so good, but that part of the story didn’t happen until 120 pages in. And even then, it seemed more background than anything else. The main focus was Lou’s life in the 1930s, which was actually pretty good and would’ve made a really good story on its own without the 2102 interludes. My thing was it felt like a different story than it was marketed to be, and it wrapped up so quickly and almost out of nowhere that it seemed like an afterthought that came out of an idea for a normal fiction story taking place in the 1930s. A bit disappointing for me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jolanda Scott

    Thank you NetGalley and Counterpoint Publishing for the ARC in return of an honest review. The writing in The Perishing was absolutely beautiful. Natashia Deón has a beautiful way with prose that was at times melodic in my inner voice. The sections of the book that were narrated by the future consciousness were so deeply philosophical, yet captured the mind with beautiful imagery. The journey that Lou takes is one through a short, but rich period of U.S., but more specifically California history. Thank you NetGalley and Counterpoint Publishing for the ARC in return of an honest review. The writing in The Perishing was absolutely beautiful. Natashia Deón has a beautiful way with prose that was at times melodic in my inner voice. The sections of the book that were narrated by the future consciousness were so deeply philosophical, yet captured the mind with beautiful imagery. The journey that Lou takes is one through a short, but rich period of U.S., but more specifically California history. Having been raised in that same area, there were events of which I was unaware. The tragedy of the St. Francis damn and the killing of Latasha Harlins are both events not addressed in schools, nor in my home. For that, I am grateful to this book for bringing light to stories that have not been shared enough. Coming in and out of time with the consciousness of the narrator was fascinating, but at times confusing. Sometimes Sarah would give context for her monologues, but others, the reader is left trying to find the relevance of her thoughts and the time from which she is speaking. I feel I would be more inclined to give this book a higher rating if I had read it without having read the cover description first. I came to this book looking for a sci-fi book with a Black heroine based in 1930. I ended up with a philosophical historical fiction delving into cultural injustice deeply ingrained in our society with a sprinkle of sci-fi in a couple of places. The sci-fi elements in this book are cool, and original, but not enough was done with that plot line for it to be worth it. In fact, I never figured out how she was supposed to save the world 😕. If I could read this book without the sci-fi sprinkles, the last minute 'villain', and a more aligned narrator, I would easily give this a 5. If I could read this book with the last 5% earlier in the book , like around 40% and continue exploring that angle with the historical influence. Again, easy 5. As it is, as a sci-fi book I'd give it a 1. As a historical fiction book, 4.5 it left me feeling these characters in my spirit.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Val

    i wish this book was just a historical fiction novel about a Black woman in 1930s LA with beautiful prose because it did that wonderfully!! what it did not do well was the… entire main premise. the whole immortality thing came into play in the last like 20%… and the dual timelines? i have literally NO idea what the 2100s story was supposed to do for me what a bummer!!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christy McCarter

    Is there a word for writing a review purely because other reviews made you mad? This is that. There should be a special circle of readerly hell reserved for those reviewers who don't know the difference between "this isn't what I needed/expected right now" and "this is bad." If you've read a bad review and are on the fence, I hope you read this one as well. Bottom line: This book is beautiful, heartbreaking and important. The prose is the most elegant I've read in a long time, and I swallowed it Is there a word for writing a review purely because other reviews made you mad? This is that. There should be a special circle of readerly hell reserved for those reviewers who don't know the difference between "this isn't what I needed/expected right now" and "this is bad." If you've read a bad review and are on the fence, I hope you read this one as well. Bottom line: This book is beautiful, heartbreaking and important. The prose is the most elegant I've read in a long time, and I swallowed it up in huge gulps. Even when I knew I didn't have the bandwidth to keep reading, I did. Is this story scifi/fantasy? It's somewhere in there, yes: they are immortal. They return to life again and again -- there is an element of not-realism, whichever genre you want to slot it into. Does this story feature vast world-building? No. Does this story feature fantastic conflicts that work as a form of escapism? No. Instead, this story adopts scifi/fantasy elements to show our world from a different perspective, and it does so beautifully. I have seen lots of reviews arguing that the character's immortality and the different timelines don't make sense, are weakly explained, or are overambitious. Usually these comments are accompanied by complaints that the book offers too much commentary on currently relevant social issues. The implication: the story gets something wrong because it doesn't offer an expected amount of escapism. Way to out yourself as missing the point. Claiming the book offers too much social commentary *and* that the immortality doesn't fit just means you don't understand the assignment. I would argue that the characters' immortality is a very clever, modern method of showing how as much as things change, they stay the same. This is something many novels execute through a cross-temporal, multi-character structure (Lippman's Lady in the Lake; Zumas' Red Clocks) that is becoming really repetitive, basic, and hard to do well. Instead, through experiences from the 1507 Spanish Inquisition to Sarah's 22nd-century prosecution, we see the main character observing and learning. This development -- and the empathy she ultimately arrives at -- is underscored by narration from a life in the middle in which she doesn't remember she is immortal and is without the benefit of remembered experience. I *adore* and respect this fresh structural tactic for how it allows for character growth in a way we don't get in narratives that jump between characters across time. Deón creates for us a character who has lived many lives and has had the opportunity for nuanced, intelligent and empathetic reflections on the "social issues" (a gross understatement, by the way) played out over and over through time and across the story. I haven't even touched the topic of race, which I know others can speak about more eloquently than I can. I'll say that many of the negative "this doesn't make sense/poor character development" reviews reek of "this isn't about my lived experience so it's bad." But why else do we read fiction, in all its genres, if not to try and earn a sense of empathy for the lives and experiences of others? I think this story has a lot to offer a wide breadth of readers, and if you have the mental/emotional bandwidth, it is worth your time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McGee

    I didn't love this book, I didn't like it either. But, to be fair, I blame that on the book description and not the book itself. The book was described as this fun science fiction adventure featuring an immortal black woman with amnesia. THAT was the book I was excited to read. Unfortunately, what I got was this boring, rambling tale about a depressing orphan living a boring life. Nothing personal against orphans or stories about orphans, but that's not what I signed up for when I got this book. I didn't love this book, I didn't like it either. But, to be fair, I blame that on the book description and not the book itself. The book was described as this fun science fiction adventure featuring an immortal black woman with amnesia. THAT was the book I was excited to read. Unfortunately, what I got was this boring, rambling tale about a depressing orphan living a boring life. Nothing personal against orphans or stories about orphans, but that's not what I signed up for when I got this book. Lou wakes up in an alley, with no memory and no clothes. And for the next 100-120 pages (not sure of the actual page count because page numbers were omitted in favor of location, lame), that's the only exciting/interesting thing that happens. Eventually, like in the last five or so chapters, Lou learns of her origins, sort of, and manages to fight off the big bad. Sigh. For the sake of fairness, I will say that the author's writing was engaging. If this book had simply been marketed as literary fiction, then I might feel differently. But imagine being told that you're going to go to see a lion, but instead you're presented with a lazy house cat. I spent most of the book desperately waiting for the cool sci-fi stuff to happen, and by the time it did, I was underwhelmed. I received this book via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Megan Eccles

    This book is absolutely brilliant. Natashia is an incredible writer and storyteller. Her characters are so real that I feel lonely now without them. I loved the speculative elements in this, just like GRACE. I can’t wait for everyone else to read it!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Foster

    I find it hard to really rate and review this book. The writing itself is great and Deon has a definite way with words. However, expectations did not meet reality for me. The Perishing was nothing like I expected based off the synopsis. Meanwhile, it is an interesting look at humanity. I just wanted more from the "immortal" aspect. I find it hard to really rate and review this book. The writing itself is great and Deon has a definite way with words. However, expectations did not meet reality for me. The Perishing was nothing like I expected based off the synopsis. Meanwhile, it is an interesting look at humanity. I just wanted more from the "immortal" aspect.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Libby Lu

    The plot idea was great, but that's all it was...an idea. Too much energy was spent preaching on social issues, leaving an under-developed plot and super flat characters. Don't get me wrong, I believe in addressing social issues! But the author even takes a jab at our current pandemic issues, like masks and vaccines. (Yes, I know its historically important and not only a current issue.) But, I could have just visited any social media site if I wanted to engage in politics and social commentary. The plot idea was great, but that's all it was...an idea. Too much energy was spent preaching on social issues, leaving an under-developed plot and super flat characters. Don't get me wrong, I believe in addressing social issues! But the author even takes a jab at our current pandemic issues, like masks and vaccines. (Yes, I know its historically important and not only a current issue.) But, I could have just visited any social media site if I wanted to engage in politics and social commentary. I was hoping for what seemed like a unique and thrilling story, but got a sermon instead.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Beautiful sentences and history told from silenced voices. A view that needs to be known. Read this one. 💙

  15. 5 out of 5

    Destanee

    I have absolutely nothing positive to say about this book. The synopsis gave me so much hope and enthusiasm to read it and I was let down. The story was slow, too much back and forth between Lou and Sarah with nothing really connecting. For me there was a disconnect with the story and who the audience was.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Some challenges are great, like climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest. Others are not so great, but are challenges nonetheless. My finish reading Natasha Deon’s THE PERISHING was one of the lesser challenges, but a challenge it was. I put it down after page 1. Waited a week and tried again. That time I made it through twenty-five confusing, rambling pages, only to discover those six chapters were the prologue. I struggled with it from then on. I did finish it, but I can’t see myself recommending Some challenges are great, like climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest. Others are not so great, but are challenges nonetheless. My finish reading Natasha Deon’s THE PERISHING was one of the lesser challenges, but a challenge it was. I put it down after page 1. Waited a week and tried again. That time I made it through twenty-five confusing, rambling pages, only to discover those six chapters were the prologue. I struggled with it from then on. I did finish it, but I can’t see myself recommending it to anyone. So many problems. For one Deon attempted to work in some story about the lead character, Louise aka Lou, being an immortal. An immortal can die or disappear but then has a new start, only apparently without a conscious memory of past lives, which come back in dreams. Isn’t that similar to reincarnation. Near the end Deon introduces a “Highlander’s” “There can be only one” aspect (completely different rationale, however). If an immortal touches someone as they are fading, their existence ends and whoever they touch gets the life essence. The book would have been stronger without that whole immortal without a memory concept. Because . . . There’s a bigger story of Louise as a parentless teenager (and later young adult) dealing with race relations in the 1930’s in Los Angeles, fixing the location of Route 66 through L.A., and understanding the trials and tribulations of several characters. That story doesn’t work either as Deon uses the 1930s to voice her world view of the 2020’s, and there’s confusing side stories that lead nowhere. What went wrong? I don’t know. The only clue I have is the dedication page where Deon scratches through “For you” and writes “I did it for me.” I can see Deon intentionally pushing the boundaries so she can grow as a writer in the future. Pushing the boundaries is how an artist grows. Unfortunately, I as a reader had to suffer through the exercise. But I at least met the challenge of finishing the book. I have no idea what the title, The Perishing, refers to. I could make up something but it’d be a guess. The simple cover does make me smile. It’s the outline of two heads, one behind the other. To me it represents the two main characters, Louise in the 1930’s and Sarah (probably Lou’s future self) in 2102. What amuses me though it takes me back to my earlier life as a first or second grader when we would use crayons to color different columns on a page, then cover all the colored columns with black crayons, then draw lines or make other pictures by wiping out part of the black to unveil the colors underneath. The cover here is a deep blue, the women’s outlines are in red, yellow, blue, purple and orange. Two stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Interesting premise but rough execution, the world wasn’t fleshed out and jumping back and forth in time was confusing and didn’t seem to add anything to the narrative

  18. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This is an incredible novel. It is hard to categorize. Some call it fantasy, I guess because it involves a sort of time travel. According to the reviews here, there are readers who love it and the rest don't seem to get it. The main character is an immortal Black woman who is portrayed in two different life times, one in 1930s Los Angeles and one in the far future. It is a lot to take in but I felt myself thinking about Octavia Butler's Seed to Harvest series. I am calling it Slipstream. It takes This is an incredible novel. It is hard to categorize. Some call it fantasy, I guess because it involves a sort of time travel. According to the reviews here, there are readers who love it and the rest don't seem to get it. The main character is an immortal Black woman who is portrayed in two different life times, one in 1930s Los Angeles and one in the far future. It is a lot to take in but I felt myself thinking about Octavia Butler's Seed to Harvest series. I am calling it Slipstream. It takes at least a curiosity about, if not a belief in, the idea that we live more than once.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Carney

    3.5/5 As a historical fiction novel, this was pretty good. Deon took great care to include multiple relevant pieces of early 20th century Los Angeles life, from major events to race relations. Where it falls flat for me is where the novel tries to be speculative fiction. I didn’t feel we knew enough about Sarah Shipley to appreciate her in the same way we did Lou. We knew that Sarah and Lou were the same person, albeit in different time periods, but it took such a long time to understand why. The 3.5/5 As a historical fiction novel, this was pretty good. Deon took great care to include multiple relevant pieces of early 20th century Los Angeles life, from major events to race relations. Where it falls flat for me is where the novel tries to be speculative fiction. I didn’t feel we knew enough about Sarah Shipley to appreciate her in the same way we did Lou. We knew that Sarah and Lou were the same person, albeit in different time periods, but it took such a long time to understand why. The pacing was slow in the first 250 pages, and then ramped up significantly in the last 50. The Perishing could have benefited from spreading out its plot a little more evenly. Additionally, this novel triggered my pet peeve of having a misleading jacket description. Based on the description, I thought the relationship between Lou and Jefferson was going to be much more prominent and detailed. Instead, it was relegated more to a subplot. That might not be a deal breaker for some, but it did bother me. The most redeeming part of The Perishing is Deon’s prose. There’s no denying she’s an incredibly talented writer. Based on her writing in the first few chapters of the novel, I was so sure I’d give this a higher rating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Wendt

    This book was promoted as a book that seemed like it was going to focus on the immortal/magical realism aspect, but that part of the book was only a small snippet. Overall it was just disappointing because it wasn’t the story I was expecting and I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. It’s a book I’d likely not have finished and therefore not reviewed, but felt like I needed to finish it since it was my BOTM choice.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    Yeaaaaa, DNF @ 100 pages. Beautiful prose, poor story-building.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    Interesting book! And challenging. I was flipping through it after I finished, to make sure I got how all the pieces fit together. It's not really sci fi or fantasy imo. It's literary fiction with a heavy dose of history and an underpinning of magical realism. Interesting book! And challenging. I was flipping through it after I finished, to make sure I got how all the pieces fit together. It's not really sci fi or fantasy imo. It's literary fiction with a heavy dose of history and an underpinning of magical realism.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ben Coyer

    The Perishing’s writing quality is actually greater than the story it tells. Deón’s emotional language was captivating enough to keep me interested in finishing this book, but each chapter was as disappointing as the one before it. The broader concept of the book - an immortal spirit inhabiting different people in different times, though always through the lens of a Black person, was interesting and unique, but it was a such a large idea that it felt disjointed and spread thin as Deón tried to d The Perishing’s writing quality is actually greater than the story it tells. Deón’s emotional language was captivating enough to keep me interested in finishing this book, but each chapter was as disappointing as the one before it. The broader concept of the book - an immortal spirit inhabiting different people in different times, though always through the lens of a Black person, was interesting and unique, but it was a such a large idea that it felt disjointed and spread thin as Deón tried to describe an entire life experience. I enjoyed Lou as a character and appreciated her forthright attitude and general toughness, but wish she had a different medium to be shown through.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Perishing book Review  Story: 3/5  Characters: 5/5  Total: 4/5 Surprised at the reviews on this book but I'm very happy with my choice of BOTM picks from October 2021. Definitely loved this book but it was hard to get through towards the middle. Things that I wish were better: The plot. I think that the book doesn’t do what the summary and synopsis suggests it is about. The plot doesn’t really show itself until the last 50 or so pages into the book and even though I do enjoy the little hints thr The Perishing book Review  Story: 3/5  Characters: 5/5  Total: 4/5 Surprised at the reviews on this book but I'm very happy with my choice of BOTM picks from October 2021. Definitely loved this book but it was hard to get through towards the middle. Things that I wish were better: The plot. I think that the book doesn’t do what the summary and synopsis suggests it is about. The plot doesn’t really show itself until the last 50 or so pages into the book and even though I do enjoy the little hints throughout the book that poke at the “plot”, but I felt it should have been more in the open so we knew a little bit about what was really going on. It’s a character driven book, but the plot doesn't feel actively there. With all of that being said, Lou is a very beautiful character to follow around and hear her thoughts but the middle of the book dragged because we were left so unsure of what was really going on. The ending did help it some, but should have been referenced more earlier so that it flowed with the story and wasn’t just thrown in at the end.  In short, not a bad book, good characters, lacked a few plot parts that I felt were needed. This is the only reason I’m giving it a 4 and not a 5.  Things I loved: The writing was beautiful and strong, this is a novel but it fluttered with poetry aspects to me and that made the writing stand out. I could honestly see this book becoming a classic, it deals with heavy topics; racism, sexism, dealing with death, and moving on.  Lou was a fantastic character, she was smart, her mysterious past kept me reading and the way she reacts to the situations are genuine and it was a point of view I’ve really never seen before. Sarah felt fearless, knew herself and what she was doing and how she had dealt with her lives in the past, she reeked of maturity and wisdom and I loved her. Having different chapters from the past, present and the future each had very different feelings towards them, I loved the future chapters and felt like Sarah was vastly different from the Lou we knew, she took everything she had learned from her life as Lou and used it to make her decisions, she just felt strong to me.  Favorite quotes: "Our lives are meant to mimic a passing breeze that won't return." "We're all on the verge of someone else's violence." "We have to engage in our world or the world will only show you who you are." Definitely gonna reread this one in the future! Thank you Natashia Deón for a great book. 

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    Do not believe the blurb. This book will not appeal to NK Jemisin fans--or at least, not this fan. The writing was fine. The story very interesting in parts, especially in recreating Black life 1930s Los Angeles. But the pace was slow and sometimes confusing. The main character is a young Black woman named Louise Willard, who is discovered in a LA alley, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Lou is put into foster care and becomes one of the first female reporters for a major LA news Do not believe the blurb. This book will not appeal to NK Jemisin fans--or at least, not this fan. The writing was fine. The story very interesting in parts, especially in recreating Black life 1930s Los Angeles. But the pace was slow and sometimes confusing. The main character is a young Black woman named Louise Willard, who is discovered in a LA alley, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Lou is put into foster care and becomes one of the first female reporters for a major LA newspaper. There are flashes of Lou's difference--she heals amazingly quickly and has strange dreams of people and times she's never been. Turns out she is one of the handful of immortals in the world--who are being hunted and killed. The occasional flashbacks to previous lives (and another life of a woman named Sarah in 2117) are more confusing than not. The point of the Sarah character, other than an impassioned commentator on the difficulty of being Black in a racist America, is meaningless. The threat to Lou's life never develops into something really dramatic, despite all the action which happens in the last few chapters. This novel was most interesting when it portrayed historical events in LA's history, like the controversy and protests around the routing of the famous Chicago-to-LA Route 66, which went through the Black community; the polio epidemic, and the tragic St. Francis Dam flood, which drowned at least 431 people. It works well as historical fiction, but not as speculative fiction: there was no explanation about the Immortals, their origin or purpose, nor any real speculation about the consequences of being immortal. The audio version of the book was ably narrated by Lisa Renee Pitts and Kevin R. Free.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    With the weird timeline and immortal aspect, making a social justice statement and referencing pandemics, this book was trying to do too much. The dialogue was confusing at times. I really liked Lou, but could not stand Sarah’s perspective. The book needed to choose one lane and I would have enjoyed it had it been purely historical fiction.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie Flanagan

    3.5 stars. I really went back and forth with this one but ultimately I think it was a really great concept that just wasn't quite executed well. The writing was beautiful, but the story seemed to spend a lot of time on background and the main story that I thought this would be based on the synopsis almost felt like an afterthought. 3.5 stars. I really went back and forth with this one but ultimately I think it was a really great concept that just wasn't quite executed well. The writing was beautiful, but the story seemed to spend a lot of time on background and the main story that I thought this would be based on the synopsis almost felt like an afterthought.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dwight Davis

    One of the more depressing things about this book is that it certainly went through a number of iterations and edits before it was released in this final form, and it still feels extremely rushed and like an early draft of a story. The idea is a good one, telling the story of a Black immortal in America. But for about 280 pages out of the 302 it just meanders and is mostly an aimless story about a journalist in 1930s LA broken up by disconnected, confusing, pointless flash forwards to a future…s One of the more depressing things about this book is that it certainly went through a number of iterations and edits before it was released in this final form, and it still feels extremely rushed and like an early draft of a story. The idea is a good one, telling the story of a Black immortal in America. But for about 280 pages out of the 302 it just meanders and is mostly an aimless story about a journalist in 1930s LA broken up by disconnected, confusing, pointless flash forwards to a future…self? Life? of the main character (the logistics of immortality are murky at best in this novel, I’m still uncertain as to whether it’s a reincarnation thing or what). Suddenly the last 30 or so pages drop the entire story preceding it (there’s a whole thing about Route 66 and newspapers and obituaries that all just disappear) and it’s suddenly a weird…idk conspiracy? To steal immortality? It’s not clear. And that’s wrapped up incredibly fast and then there’s no actual resolution to literally any plot line before the book just ends. It feels like Deón wanted to write a novel set in the 30s and was told it wouldn’t sell so she decided to tack on a shitty and extraneous sci-fi premise that’s not remotely fleshed out. This has astoundingly awful plotting and I’m genuinely concerned that this made it to publication in this shape. It’s frustrating because the writing is pretty great. Deón knows how to write a sentence, the prose is gorgeous. But the plot makes absolutely no sense and there’s no coherence whatsoever and the characters are almost entirely blanks with no defining characteristics. I also got some very weird conservative Christian vibes regarding sex and alcohol from the whole thing and it made a lot of sense when the acknowledgements start with an epigraph from CS Lewis and ends with a thank you to Jesus and includes an acknowledgement of a counseling program at a very evangelical seminary. That’s probably not here or there it just felt like a distinctively American Christian worldview to me and it turns out it was and I don’t vibe with that at all as someone who left evangelicalism.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I wanted to love this. I wanted it to be the book described in the synopsis/summary. I feel betrayed because neither happened. I’m giving this an extra star because the actual writing is lyrical and beautiful and the author put in some work. The plot is what I struggle with as there didn’t seem to be an actual point to the story. Lots of historical tidbits thrown in which made me think but overall I am disappointed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    I think this one was just above me.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.