First published back in November of 2011, British horror author David Moody’s third and final instalment into his ‘Hater’ trilogy was entitled ‘Them Or Us’.

DLS synopsis:
Danny McCoyne wakes to find that he’s somehow still alive.  Battered, beaten and withered to the bone, McCoyne is no longer the fierce Hater that he once had been.  He’s now little more than a scavenger.  Barely scraping away an existence for himself.  Those like him are treated like little more than worthless scum.  He can barely fight anymore.  He’s too wounded and weak.  And he exists by living off the scraps left behind by the real fighters.

But then McCoyne gets lucky.  He’s out with a troupe of fellow scavengers, searching a nearby amusement park for anything at all that has been left behind, when he notices the subtle signs that they are not alone here.  Suppressing the Hate, Danny manages to infiltrate a nest of Unchanged who were hiding out in the amusement park.  And once he’s in with them, he calls in the real fighters.  And they do what they do best.  They rip the Unchanged to pieces.

Llewellyn is impressed with McCoyne.  He’d heard rumours of those that could “hold the Hate”, but never witnessed it until now.  And that makes McCoyne valuable.  And if he thinks so, then Hinchcliffe will no doubt think so too.  And with Hinchcliffe now the man running the whole of Lowestoft, Danny McCoyne’s life as a mere scavenger was about to come to an end.

Through the exploitation of fear and the drip-feeding of food, Hinchcliffe had successfully created a whole new community for the Haters to reside within, in the relatively undamaged coastal town of Lowestoft.  On the edges of the town, thousands of weak and desperate Haters eke out a living in pretty much utter squalor.  In direct contrast, within the protective walls of Lowestoft, Hinchcliffe and his prized fighters live a life of seeming luxury in comparison.  And now Danny McCoyne is in with the head honcho.

But Danny doesn’t want to stay this way.  He’s desperately ill and he knows it.  He’s been storing up his food rations for the right time to get out of this hell-hole.  But, then all hell breaks loose.  It starts with the arrival of a neighbouring community in nearby Southwold.  Their mere presence has riled the viciously oppressive Hinchcliffe.  And so he sends Danny down there to see what’s going on.  But Hinchcliffe has his own ideas about how to sort out this new community infringing on his empire.  And it sure as hell isn’t going to be pretty.

But there’s more change in the air.  More conflict and more pain.  And the very last of the Unchanged are on the brink of extinction.  But who would aid this pathetically dying breed in a world where its look after yourself and to hell with everyone else?  Their time has surely come.  But still the fighting just never ends…

DLS Review:
So, here we have it…the third and final part to the violently emotive ‘Hater’ trilogy.  From the nuclear ashes of where ‘Dog Blood’ (2010) concluded, Moody has formed a comparatively new direction and downtrodden blanketed-atmosphere for this last instalment.  Our narrator is weakened beyond recovery.  His life is now near worthless.  But we know it won’t end there.  And like a guttural phoenix clawing its way out from the flames of the old world, Danny McCoyne is plucked from the scavenging ranks and dropped into a whole new, and equally vicious environment.

There’s no disputing that this isn’t a hard, downbeat and depressing read.  The gloom and relentless atmosphere is more post-apocalyptic than it knows what to do with.  Moody has spun a veritable masterpiece in bleak dystopian fiction, with the pathetic excuse for a reawakening of humanity doomed from the very start.

Indeed, the whole premise behind Lowestoft and the head honcho character of Hinchcliffe comes across as if it’s been cast from the same blueprint as a whole shelf full of ‘Deathlands’ novels.  Sometimes you have to convince yourself that Ryan Cawdor isn’t going to come storming in and rid the world of another overbearing baron.  But somehow, this jump to a whole new chapter in the post-nuke ravaged Britain works magnificently. 

The heavy use of relentlessly graphic violence that really carved out the route for the first two novels has taken somewhat of a backseat in this final instalment.  The numbers of Unchanged left alive are so small, that the fights are pretty much just Hater on Hater now.  That’s not to say that the novel doesn’t pull the punches – when it does, it really does.  But it’s not like the first two books, where the violence flows through almost the entire length of the novel.  It’s more specific and purposeful.  And for that alone, perhaps more impactful.

The character of Danny McCoyne has changed dramatically now.  No longer is he embracing the Hate.  No longer does he love this new life, or feel part of a powerful and righteous movement.  Questions are beginning to emerge in him.  He’s thinking for the first time.  Looking at the world, what’s gone for good, what he’s lost and why it had to happen this way.  He’s hurting and he’s looking for answers.  But his time’s running out.

After the explosive violence of ‘Hater’ (2006), ‘Everything And Nothing’ (2010) and then ‘Dog Blood’ (2010), you’d undoubtedly be expecting one hell of a firework-show of violence and utter destruction for this final book in the trilogy.  And yes, there is destruction at the heart of the tale.  But a much more personal, emotional and subjective destruction.  ‘Them Or Us’ gets you in your guts and just pulls you down.  It’s a bitter and twisted ride into self-destruction.  The implosion of humanity that was doomed to fail the moment the Haters first started to fight.  It’s a last man standing in a blood-soaked pile of rubble, with everything left bare and exposed to the elements.

The novel finishes the trilogy off with the David Moody way of thinking that has made the author’s novels stand out so much from the crowd.  Where some would see huge explosions and mass warfare as the only way to finish such a series, Moody takes a new route (although the warfare’s still there!).  The book’s instead more in tune with the emotional destruction than the physical one.  It puts the spotlight on aspects that maybe we would have rather left in shadow.  It’s harsh and it’s provocative.  And as the final page is turned…it leaves you breathless.

Once again I’m left feeling wiped-out by one of his books.

The novel runs for a total of 361 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Hater’ instalments:

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