First published back in June of 2010, British author David Moody’s novel ‘Dog Blood’ was the second instalment into his post-apocalyptic ‘Hater’ series.  The novel followed on from the earlier instalment entitled ‘Hater’ (2006) and even more directly the connecting-short-story ‘Everything And Nothing’ (2010) that formed a short prequel to this second instalment.

DLS Synopsis:
Danny McCoyne is now a new man.  He has embraced the Hate that flows through him.  Killing is his drug.  A drug he is quickly becoming addicted to.  But the numbers of Unchanged that they come across seem to be depleting.  Searching them out for the kill is becoming harder and harder.

And now Danny realises that his violence-fuelled travels have brought him full circle back to him home turf.  It all started here for Danny.  Killing his father-in-law in their pathetically inadequate flat.  That was the last time he saw Lizzie and his family.  But what cuts into him the most is that was the last time he saw his daughter Ellis.  His daughter who is one of them – a Hater.

With the Unchanged now gathering in large groups, protected by what’s left of their military presence, the Haters need to modify their tactics if they are to win the war.  No longer can they stay fighting their own individual battles.  They need to start working together.  Become organised in their efforts to wipe out the Unchanged.

Meanwhile, Mark Tillotsen is holed-up in a small hotel room within the crammed city centre along with his pregnant wife Kate, her elderly parents and his cousin’s wife Lizzie.  In the adjoining bathroom, Lizzie has her young daughter tied-up and sedated.  These are necessary measures to stop her from killing them all.  Necessary measures to protect them all from the young girl’s fundament hate.  The young girl’s name is Ellis.  Danny McCoyne’s daughter.

Mark has been working with the military and what’s left of the government, going out of their secure perimeter in the heart of the city centre to replenish their desperately dwindling supplies or round up any fellow Unchanged survivors to bring back to their military protected area.  In return for the missions, he and his family are given extra rations.  The risk is worth it for Mark.  But he’s already noticed that the risk is getting worse by the day.  There’s only so much longer he can continue putting his neck on the line this way.

Meanwhile, en route to his home turf where he hopes to find his daughter Ellis, Danny meets up with a band of fellow Haters who are beginning to get organised.  Headed-up by a fellow Hater named Preston, and responding to the calls for a more organised warfare by ex-politician and ex-governmental Defence advisor Chris Adkins, the group are working together, taking the time to plan their assaults in order to make the most impact.  And they believe that children are the key to winning the war.

But it all goes horrendously wrong for Danny when he flees from a battle with the Unchanged that was nothing more than a trap to lure in Haters for the slaughter, and subsequently finds himself being taken prisoner.  Tied down within a dark room, with no food or water, Danny is at the mercy of his Unchanged captives.  But they have other plans for Danny.  Because they have been looking out for Haters like him.  Haters who don’t just rush into the fight, ignoring all dangers.  Haters who show signs of weighing up the situation.  Haters who can ultimately hold off the Hate.  The war is not over just yet for Danny McCoyne...

DLS Review:
After four long years, the sequel to Moody’s incredible novel ‘Hater’ (2006) is finally released.  Anticipation and bated-breaths for the continuation of the same unrelenting fury as the first instalment were understandably high.  And Moody doesn’t disappoint.

From the very outset the savage brutality of the novel hits the reader full in the face, hitting the ground running, exactly from where the intermediary short story (and anticipation-whetting prequel to this novel) ‘Everything And Nothing’ (2010) had left off.  Indeed, from early on a number of the elements from the short are simply carried on further, such as with the tag-along young Hater, Adam, and the return to his homeground on the edge of the big city (although unnamed it’s undoubtedly the author’s our locale of Birmingham).

The action and adrenaline-pumping violence is never too far from the progression of the storyline, with Moody constantly keeping a firm finger on the throbbing pulse of the tale.  What’s more, all around the progressing storyline is a blanket backdrop of a gradually decaying world, with ravaged urban environments falling into nothing more than corpse littered piles of rubble overflowing with raw sewage.  The oppressive grittiness of the novel is always there, marking out the utterly dire situation of this dog-eat-dog war.

The novel is once again predominantly written in the first-person-perspective of Danny McCoyne.  However, outside of the odd descriptive passages detailing the constant downfall of what’s left of society and the decaying environment that the Unchanged are trying to live within, a fair number of chapters are given over to the substory of Mark Tillotsen and his desperate family.  These chapters, which are interspersed throughout the novel, are told in a third-person narration, making a clear and easy distinction between scenes from behind the eyes of a Hater (i.e. Danny McCoyne) and observing the struggling survival of an Unchanged refugee family (i.e. Mark and family).

Moody has purposefully pushed the novel further along the route that ‘Hater’ (2006) had just started along as it drew to an end.  Now, with the Haters waging war against the vast numbers of the Unchanged that outnumber them quite considerably, Moody steps the progression of the storyline up a good few notches; starting to bring the Haters together into a more organised side to face down their rivals.  In doing so, the whole tone of the novel shifts to a different level, with more emphasis put on the idea of this being an all-out war than one-on-one fighting.

Like within Moody’s zombie-saga series ‘Autumn’ (2002), Moody begins to look at the evolution of the Haters themselves, bringing in ingrained differences, such as with the uncontrollable and unrelenting ‘Brutes’.  With Moody’s careful examination of the actual urge behind the Haters want to kill, which, like with Simon Clark’s ‘Blood Crazy’ (1995), is incorporated into the very crux of the plot, he has managed to develop a solid backbone for the reader’s growing understanding of what is going on for the Haters themselves. 

Once again it must be said that Moody has bravely taken on a very difficult and challenging angle.  Having the novel’s narrated by a Hater, our principal protagonist himself being a vicious bloodthirsty killer with no remorse for his actions whatsoever.  Using the word protagonist in this context somehow seems very wrong.  But then is Danny McCoyne not still the tale’s protagonist, even in the face of his actions?  You’re either a Hater or a Hated.  It’s as simple and black and white as that.  And who’s to say which side is the right side now?  The rules have changed.  Moody cut them down a long time ago.

The novel’s finale and ending is utterly superb.  It’s a heart-in-mouth bombardment of violence, terror, stretched-emotions and heavy military retaliation.  It’s chaotic warfare, thrown at the reader in all its vicious and visceral glory.  And it just keeps on pounding away until the very last page.

The final instalment, entitled ‘Them Or Us’ (2011) finished off this ultra-violent and unashamedly intense Hater trilogy.

The novel runs for a total of 279 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Hater’ instalments:

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