First published back in July of 2006, British horror author David Moody’s novel ‘Hater’ formed the first part in the ultra-violent ‘Hater’ trilogy.
Thirty-seven year old Danny McCoyne hates his job along with the vast majority of his depressingly routine life. At work he processes parking ticket payments for the undoubtedly angry general public. And at home, in his small council flat, he lives with his increasingly bitter wife and three financially-draining kids. Life has not been particularly good to Danny so far.
But unbeknown to Danny, all of this is about to change for him when he witnesses an elderly woman randomly attacked by another passerby in broad daylight. The violent attacker is eventually restrained by the general public, but only after lashing out at everyone in an unbelievably frenzied rage.
After dropping the story of the strange attack he witnessed into conversation at work, Danny begins to realise that talk of similarly irrational acts of gross violence are cropping up all around the country. However, putting thoughts of the sudden violent outbursts to one side and after having saved enough hard-earned money to be able to take his wife to a concert, that night Danny and the rest of the audience is subjected to another such brutal escapade, when one of the band members is bludgeoned to death by one of his group members.
At home, Danny begins to watch as the bizarre epidemic begins to unfold around them. The news has picked up on the sudden unexplained outbursts of irrational violence, dubbing those responsible the ‘Haters’. These usually placid and everyday members of society could be your friends, co-workers or close family members. But for no apparent reason, with no provocation or warning, these people you know and trust, could suddenly turn. And when they do, the violence is brutal.
Becoming increasingly concerned at the madness that has gripped the country, Danny shuts him and his family up in their flat, following advice from the television broadcasts. Public paranoia at the escalating acts of violence caused by these Haters is becoming a further problem. No one trusts anyone else anymore. People are lashing out at the slightest provocation, out of pure fear. The streets have become a battleground.
After putting together a ‘safe room’ as advised by the government broadcasts, McCoyne now only ventures out from their home to retrieve his ungrateful father-in-law and to collect together grocery supplies for him and his family. But out on the streets the violence has got too extreme. The government can no longer cope with the sheer scale of the epidemic. And Danny is suddenly beginning to see how the irrational hate can build in absolutely anyone...
David Moody’s ‘Hater’ is an ultra-violent adrenaline pumping monster, spewing out an intense and escalating epidemic that is quite literally ripping civilisation apart. Written predominantly in the first-person-perspective of our principal protagonist, Danny McCoyne, in a similar fashion to his earlier ‘Autumn’ (2002) novels, Moody really draws upon the emotional turmoil of the characters, spending more time detailing the very-human response to the violent epidemic, than throwing down endless scenes of carnage and manic bloodshed.
‘Hater’ is a novel that gets you by the throat and batters your sense of justice until it’s nothing more than a mildly irrelevant concept lingering somewhere at the back of your mind. Beaten into submission, Moody then begins upon an interesting trek into the human psyche, our interaction with fear and self-preservation, and ultimately when the barriers are ripped down and basic trust is lost, how it’s so easy for us to flick a switch and just begin lashing out ourselves.
Like the very best of the zombie movies and novels, ‘Hater’ is an intelligent social criticism brought to the table in a powerful and brutal way. The violence is simply the catalyst to the emotional battleground.
Very much in the same vein as the likes of Richard Laymon’s ‘One Rainy Night’ (1991), Simon Clark’s ‘Blood Crazy’ (1995), James Herbert’s ‘The Fog’ (1975), Jim Stalin & Daina Graziunas’ ‘Among Madmen’ (1990) or Danny Boyle’s ‘28 Days Later’ (2002); ‘Hater’ is a rampant twisting of society, thrown into a downward spiral of violence and overwhelming fear. It’s hate or be hated. Attack or be attacked. Kill or be killed.
Moody purposefully opens up the whole ‘antagonist’ front by laying down a number of short chapters from behind the eyes of a number of actual haters when they first begin to turn. In doing so, Moody rips open the whole notion of ‘they are the bad ones’ and instead allows a sympathetic viewpoint to form from the other side of the fence. This is striking in its creative maturity and intelligent role manipulation. It becomes hard for the reader to feel comfortable for even one second. They’re dragged into the chaos, seeing how it’s just fear for one’s own self-preservation that is at the heart of the violent madness. These aren’t psychopathic killer’s hell bent on murder; these are normal people, who suddenly (for no known reason so far) are flooded with an overwhelming feeling of fear for the lives. A deep-rooted hatred grips them, making them believe that it’s either kill or be killed. Simple as that.
The psychological complexities that Moody jostles with add a thought-provoking fuel to the fire of this utterly compelling read. The storyline is intense from start to finish. And what a finale Moody has in store for the reader in just this first instalment into the trilogy. You won’t see it coming. The scale and sudden shift in the direction of Moody’s storyline is breath-taking. It’s a fight to put the book down. And having been left hanging on an almighty cliff-hanger, it was agonisingly hard to wait the four years until the eventual release of ‘Dog Blood’ (2010) to see where Moody was going to take us next.
This is a powerfully emotive read, shouted through a blooded mouth full of broken teeth. It brings to the surface thoughts on governmental responses and the fear-mongering of the ravenous media, without completely shoving it down our necks and forgoing its background-tone. It exposes the battling emotions under the calm exterior of our mundane lives, taking a very identifiable and everyday individual (in Danny McCoyne), and transposing him into an oppressive new environment of constant chaos and absolute fear.
Let the war begin…
The novel runs for a total of 235 pages.
© DLS Reviews