Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dystopia Challenge Review #6: Hater by David Moody

Danny is trapped in a dead-end job he despises, his kids drive him up the wall and his wife falls asleep on the couch at nine on a Saturday night. He's feeling more and more like a loser as the days go by. A series of violent attacks in the city sets off a string of copycat crimes, and Danny and his family look on as the horror unfolds. With dawning realisation, Danny sees that there's no simple explanation for these Haters, and could there even be a Hater in his family?

David Moody is a highly competent writer and his fluid style allows you to eat up the pages. As most of you know I have rather a long commute these days and I would open this book, get lost in it and then find myself at the end of my journey as if no time at all had passed. Gotta love that.

Danny is an unlikely hero with a fantastic voice. The story is told from right behind his eyeballs; we see exactly what he is seeing, hear what he is thinking. He wasn't only an unlikely hero, but an imperfect character too. Moody didn't idealise him into this wonderful husband and father figure. There's a lot about Danny that is realistic and his flaws make him very likable and relatable.

Now, the Haters. Great premise. The vignettes that begin almost every section show ordinary people transitioning into Haters, and they are great horror flick material. This book is being made into a film, incidentally, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth). I wish I had more news about the film to give you, but there's been no update on this project since 2008 and no release date. I'm unsure as to whether casting has even taken place. I have little doubt that Hater will make a fantastic film. There's a high visual component to this book that will come across very well one the big screen. There's also something about the way that Haters perceive each other and non-Haters that was only sketchily dealt with in the book, and I'm dying to see how it will be handled on screen.

Hater was an absorbing read and I was waiting for that moment it would kick over into sheer awesomeness, but it didn't quite get there. The climax fell a little flat, perhaps because the stakes weren't high enough. Hater is still a great read, and I'll be keen on reading the next one. The closing pages are filled with energy and momentum and I am very keen on finding out exactly what these Haters are.

One thing to note: Hater is not a zombie book. It is, however, a great horror-filled vision of the apocalypse--a very modern apocalypse too. Television and the media play a big part. I would recommend Hater for zombie fans though, and for lovers of films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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