David Moody’s Hater is not a book you can miss. With a matte white cover splattered in a glossy bright red, “Hater” scrawled across the front, Moody’s first US release stands out from anything else on the shelves. I drooled over the cover since the time it hit bookstores, but for some reason it just never made it to the checkout counter with me. I wondered how the content could possibly live up to the cover, but 3 months after the paperback version was released, and with the second part of the trilogy (Dog Blood) on bookshelves, I finally picked it up to find out.
Moody is obsessed with the apocalypse. In fact, it’s his unhealthy fixation on the end-of-days that can be credited with launching his writing career. Inspired by George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds, Moody was originally interested in putting his own post-apocalyptic tale to celluloid. Without a formal education in film and none of the necessary resources, Moody eventually opted for the pen and pad although this medium was not without its own obstacles. In an effort to generate interest in his work, Moody offered his first series, Autumn (available October 2010), free of charge on the internet. He eventually established his own publishing company aptly titled “Infected Books” to spread the disease.
Moody’s proactive approach is finally paying off and those of us who missed the internet phenomenon can rejoice in the arrival of an end-of-the-world tome, Hater, that holds its own among the genre’s forefathers. Instead of the dead rising from their graves or aliens taking over the planet Earth, Moody has created a terrifyingly realistic attack on the mind which incites its victims to commit brutal and gruesome acts. Appropriately deemed “Haters” by the media, the infected are characterized by an acute paranoia and blind aggression that quickly has the entire city hysterical. While this may sound reminiscent of the rage virus which plagued the population in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, Moody has managed to execute an exceptional and relevant effort which will offer plenty of unexpected shake ups along the way.
The narrator, Danny McCoyne, an everyman who exhibits the full trappings of domestic life, works a dead-end office job run by a micro-managing boss and shares modest living quarters with a perpetually unhappy, nagging wife and his 3 bickering kids. For many office drones like me, a doomsday plot is precisely the type of fantasy we indulge to wile away the endless hours of reports and pointless meetings that fill our day. I’ve always entertained the idea that I would be flanked by an army of my loved ones as we battle against… well, zombies, vampires or any number of mythical beasts. In Moody’s world, however, it’s everyone for themselves. Your best friend or lover could lash out at you in a moment’s notice. At least with zombies you know what you’re getting! You don’t need to consult a Max Brooks’ zombie survival guide to know you destroy the brain (pun intended)! That’s what makes Hater such a bleak, but gripping read. A palpable sense of isolation and paranoia grips the reader as what are thought to be simple bar room brawls and random acts of violence turn into an ugly and unstoppable epidemic virtually overnight.
Moody has created a cognitive glitch which causes complete madness and ruthless savagery toward whoever is unlucky enough to be in the way. In an age where we are oft warned of the possible dangers facebook and twitter pose for the way humans communicate and think, I found myself asking; can the abuse of technology or social networking tools make humans susceptible to a viral attack of the mind? And if it does, could we identify it before it’s too late? While I don’t think there is purposeful commentary on the dangers of modern technology, as any mention of it is conspicuously absent, it’s the openness to interpretation that makes a book of this nature successful. Readers will undoubtedly put their own fears onto the face of this disease and Hater is a book meant to exploit those fears. Perhaps it’s genetically enhanced food, or chemically treated fruits and vegetables that have caused the epidemic. Or maybe the human race is purging itself of the weak specimens when a long dormant cerebral impulse is awakened. Further exploration in the second and third book may shed more light on the question of the outbreak’s origin, but the first book encourages the reader to draw their own conclusions. There is no known trigger, the virus knows no age or gender, and an attack is entirely unpredictable. A businessman assaults a helpless old lady, a child beats her mother senseless, and even authority figures meant to protect the masses can’t be trusted. By the end you’ll be asking yourself, “what in the hell is going on!?” We’ll have to keep reading to find out.
It’s no surprise that Moody’s first inclination was to make films when you read his book because he has a decidedly cinematic style. The writing is concise and the action is smoothly paced. The characters are well fleshed out and the sequences of events are vivid without overly descriptive narrative. According to Moody’s website production has already begun with Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth & Hell Boy I & II) and Mark Johnson (Chronicles of Narnia) producing and J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) directing. I have strong doubts that a film version will be released anytime soon though since Del Toro has so many irons in the fire, but if the stars are properly aligned and the project does come to fruition I think it has the potential to become an instant classic.
Join me next week for a review of the second part to David Moody’s Hater series, Dog Blood.
Download the free prequel to Dog Blood titled Everything and Nothing and find out more about David Moody’s projects past, present, and future at www.djmoody.co.uk/
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