First published in December of 2017, ‘One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning’ saw British author David Moody return to the world of his ‘Hater’ series with the first instalment in a new trilogy of books, set to run parallel to the original three.

DLS Synopsis:
The ferry ‘Heavenly Vision’ was making its way over to the small island of Skek when the change happened.  On board, twenty-two eight and nine year old kids, along with their teachers were travelling to the island for a high school trip.  The change was sudden.  At first no one knew what to do.  How to react.  Confusion spread like a plague.  But then the confusion turned to panic, like a spark erupting into a hungry flame.  And as the violence exploded, so the panic devoured every soul on board.

At the time the change started happening, Ronan Heggarty had a team of employees out on Skek.  For the past few years the island had been the site of Hazleton Adventure Experiences – an extreme sports and corporate team building facility, purposefully located on a barren and remote island, away from the distraction of the mainland.  Ronan’s team of office workers were currently undergoing the team building experience.  Learning how to work together for the greater good.  For the company.

However, the exercise is brought to an abrupt halt when one of the team members falls to her death from the cliff edge.  Rod Hazelton’s course facilitators try to keep everyone calm, but tensions are mounting in the small group.  And then they find the wreck of the Heavenly Vision, smashed against the rocks.  And in around the remains of the ferry are the corpses of the children and their teachers.  Dead bodies everywhere.  Dead bodies with brutal wounds upon their lifeless bodies.

What is going on?  Within the space of just one short day, Ronan’s team and Rod Hazelton’s facilitators have witnessed more death than any of them ever thought they would.  And when they try to reach the mainland with the facility’s radio, they’re met with nothing but static.  With no phone signal, no boat and no other way of reaching anyone outside of the island, the group quickly realise they’re stuck on the island for the foreseeable future, and equally as worrying, they’re cut off from whatever it is that’s going on.

All of a sudden they find they can no longer trust each other.  Tensions are running high as the pressure-cooker predicament the two groups are in begins to boil over.  What is happening to them?  What is going on outside of Skek to make the mainland unreachable?  And most importantly, who will be the next one to turn?...

DLS Review:
I have to confess to having been somewhat apprehensive about this book prior to getting stuck into its gritty and blood-splattered pages.  The ‘Hater’ series were something special.  Incredibly well-layered, breathtakingly thought-provoking, and so heart-poundingly raw, the books seemed to grab you by the throat and throttle you with the sheer aggression from within.  The sort of stories that leave your mind buzzing for hours afterwards.  Three truly incredible books which hold you hostage to Moody’s callous whim from the moment you start reading them.

And then we’re back there again.  Some six years after ‘Them Or Us’ (2011) was released, and we’re back to that maddening, hellish, dog-eat-dog world of ‘them against us’.  The Haters and the Unchanged.  And with ‘One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning’ we’re flung right back to the point when the shit well and truly hit the fan.  When the change started happening.

Timeline wise, that puts this new instalment into the same slot as ‘Hater’ (2006).  When the sudden change divided our race into two opposing sides.  However, instead of witnessing the madness unfolding from the crowded streets or office workplace as we did ‘Hater’ (2006), here we see a very different splitting and attacking.  Here we’re on a remote island, cut off from the outside world and with far, far fewer people around.

As such, we see far less of an explosion of violence when everything and everyone divides.  The sudden intensity of the moment is put on a shelf.  To be knocked off when the moment calls for it.  Instead we have an escalation of tension between a small group of people caught up on this small remote island in the North Sea.

It’s one beast of a pressure-cooker situation.  Before long everyone’s on each other’s backs.  Anger, fear and frustration quickly erupt, causing massive rifts to form in the increasingly hostile group.  For the first third-or-so of the book none of the characters know what the hell is going on.  The finger of guilt is pointing here there and fucking everywhere.  And all the while, unbeknown to all of those stranded on the island, the world around them is becoming more and more dangerous.

Although the premise behind the tale is the same as ‘Hater’ (2006), the whole setup and delivery is entirely different.  Here we see people deal with the emotional strain of the situation in an entirely different manner.  The lack of information, understanding and the vastly different environment these people are in carves a completely different response from this group.  Indeed, the whole setup is very closely akin to the ‘Wish You Were Here’ spin-off series from the ‘Crossed’ graphic novels.  In fact, the similarities between the ‘Crossed’/‘Hater’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’/‘One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning’ stories are numerous.  As such, if you like one – then I strongly urge you to check out the other.

With the ‘Hater’ trilogy we followed the character of Danny McCoyne, as the world erupted into a maelstrom of chaos and violence.  Here the role of principal protagonist is less obvious (for this first instalment at least).  The character of Paul O’Keefe probably takes on the most likely of such roles, although he’s far from being at the forefront of the tale.  However, his reasonably level-headed and down-to-earth approach to life does give him the best attributes to have the reader side with him.

Of course, as is the nature of a David Moody novel, it’s all about the characters and the very human response to the extraordinary circumstances they’re facing.  The pressure-cooker environment multiplies the stresses perfectly, emphasising the individual characters’ personality traits to the nth degree.  Furthermore, with such a diverse collection of characters thrown into the mix, the clashing personalities creates just the right amount of friction to enflame their own psychological fires.

With ‘One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning’ you get to bear witness to how quickly we can (and will) turn on each other in order to have a chance at survival.  You’re offered a front row seat to see how, in the space of just a few short days, we’re able to cast aside all of our long-standing social morals, and adopt a wholly ‘them and us’ stance.  How we’ll, so quickly, resort to violence and murder in order to eliminate the problem and escape the fear.  Even if it’s only for a short while.

This is Moody doing what he does best.  This is his natural environment.  His turf.  This is how he writes his very best work.  And it’s utterly, uncompromisingly, gut-wrenching stuff.  The novel rips you out of your safe and sung world and thrusts you into an environment where anyone can turn on you in the blink of an eye.  It’s hard-hitting, head-poundingly tense, and drenched from head to toe in blood-splattered cruelty.

A near-perfect example of humanity fucking up as our last card is played.

The novel runs for a total of 330 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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