Hater by David Moody

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Hater by David Moody

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A fast-paced story that offers nothing terribly original, but is a quick and entertaining read. I did feel it was let down slightly by a typically Hollywood ending, though.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2009
Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 978-0575084674

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I did enjoy the films 28 Days Later and I Am Legend, although they were mostly the stories of the people who had survived and you never really got to see the other side of things. Maybe it's the psychologist in me, or maybe I'm just a little twisted, but I always wanted to know a little more about what had happened to the supposed infected people to turn them into what they had become. In Hater, David Moody manages to satisfy my curiosity, as well as tell a decent story.

Danny McCoyne is a very ordinary man, working a job he hates in the parking enforcement department of a local council and struggling to make ends meets with a wife and three children to look after. One day, on his way to work, he sees a man viciously attack and kill an old lady on the street for no apparent reason. The next evening, the guitarist of his favourite band goes mad on stage and attacks his band members and then he sees a fight in a pub that results in a football fan being stabbed to death right in front of him and his children.

At first, these look like random, if extreme, acts of violence. But the news channels start reporting more and more such incidents and Danny sees it happening all around him. At first he suspects that the media is encouraging copy cat incidents, but it soon becomes clear there is more to it than that. The Government seems powerless to do anything and Danny can't figure out what is going on, until suddenly he is afflicted and kills. From this point, we get a new point of view that neither of the films provided - in seeing the cause and effect of this behaviour through the eyes of someone caught up in it.

I loved the pacing of the story, as the action starts very early on and the pace of the story remains high all the way through. Even in the more mundane moments of life, as when Danny is at home with the family or just waiting for the gig to begin, you always know that something is about to happen and this kept me reading. Even these moments are written so that they pass by very quickly, never allowing the pace to drop.

I do believe that one of the things that helped make Hater so gripping is that I could identify completely with the main character. Danny McCoyne is a very average man, possibly with more children than some of us, but with a life most of us can identify with, at least in part. In my case, this was because I've actually a very similar job to his, so that struck a chord with me. He's not the kind of person who will suddenly change into a hero, being concerned with his family, hating his job and having much the same reactions to seeing events as many of us would; fear, confusion and disgust. I can't remember the last time I opened a book and saw someone who was so similar to me and that certainly helped drag me in. He's Everyman.

Essentially, Hater is a slice of life where some strange things were happening. Being told by someone who is perfectly average helps, as the narrator then becomes any one of us. Because we're hearing McCoyne's voice, it's a story that's told simply and with a minimum of fuss. He doesn't know why things are happening and doesn't waste time with events except where they relate to him, either what's happened to him or what he's seen either in the street or on the news. This also helps make the story very readable, as it's simply written as well as fast paced. Even when Danny starts to be affected, he tells his story in the same way and it was a great insight into the emotional changes that he went through and how his view on life changed. Sadly, with McCoyne not being a psychologist, he didn't go as deeply into things as I might have liked, but it was still a different enough viewpoint on something like this to be fascinating.

The one disappointment I did find with the book was the ending, which didn't feel to be in keeping with the rest of the story. Admittedly, it was still told in the same fast-paced yet simple manner, but events took a turn for the less believable towards the end. The big Hollywood ending will work well in the forthcoming film - I understand that the film rights have been sold. It did spoil things slightly for me and despite having enjoyed the book, I did finish it feeling a little unsatisfied.

It doesn't make this a bad book by any means, however. It's a very enjoyable read, especially for someone who is a fan of 28 Days Later or similar films. It's not something you'd want to read over again but, as I discovered, it's a wonderfully distracting way to spend a long train journey. The basic idea wasn't particularly new, but the viewpoint was different enough for it to be well worth a look.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy Fierce People by Dirk Wittenborn.

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Buy Hater by David Moody at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hater by David Moody at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Hater by David Moody at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hater by David Moody at Amazon.com.


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