Several of my friends had been trying to get me to read David Moody’s Hater for a couple years now. I did not consciously hesitate on this one – I just had other things to read. One friend even gave me her copy along with fierce words of encouragement, but still, I am a creature of mood and I have been pretty much stuck in revolving periods of mood that are incongruous with what I thought Hater was. Not that I was completely wrong – from what I’d been told the novel Moody self-published in 2006 and promptly had optioned by Guillermo del Toro was a little bit like 28 days later. That’s cool, but again, it wasn’t exactly where my head has been.
I spun out of my recent Lovecraft binge (again) into Moody one day late last week. My nosings began tentatively enough, or so I thought, and before I knew it I was forty pages into Hater and invested BIG TIME.
The thing that I wasn’t expecting about Hater is it’s deep, first person narration. Deep as in as the situation is developing (do indeed think 28 Days Later, but combined with that episode of the 80’s Transformers cartoon where everything in the Universe is being infected with that red ‘Hate Dust’) we as readers get as much of the narrator, Danny McCoyne’s neurosis and day-t0-day minutiae as we do his slow realization that the world around him is changing for good. Not for ‘good’ as in better but good as in permanent.
This coupled with the fact that Moody is British, so Danny is as well, is wonderful. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an Anglophile, so whenever something is British I’m already naturally pre-disposed to like it, but here I think this definitely works in the narrative’s favor, as the British have a certain way of dealing with things that adds to and prolongs the situation here. You know that lyric in Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’ – “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way“? Couldn’t have said it better meself, and here it really exacerbates the slow rise in Danny and his family’s (wife and three kids in a tension-adding, cramped government flat) perception of the events slowly taking over the world outside their window. Fear becomes paramount and suspicion trumps already frayed emotionally dysfunctional relationships – this is always the stuff that makes apocalyptic scenarios that much scarier and – more importantly – relatable. Relatable to the point that I felt such a kinship with Danny’s inner monologue (I don’t have the same issues, but we all have neurotic ways of perceiving the world around us insofar as it relates to us and our survival and personal happiness) that it really made Hater that much more affecting and believable.
Another thing I really dug about Hater is it is NOT, as I erroneously first suspected, an example of a writer horning in on the Zombie zeitgeist but trying to twist it enough to remain credible in their own mind. No. Hater is something else. Saying too much would be detrimental to the book, but suffice it to say that Moody’s story is massive – truly worthy of the ‘trilogy treatment’ (if not potentially more) and I’m running out this weekend to buy book two – Dog Blood – from the newly opened and RABIDLY anticipated BOOK FROG – a great independent bookstore that just opened today in Rancho Palos Verdes*. That’ll give me just a few days to read it before part three, Them or Us, comes out Tuesday, November 8th.
Yeah, Hater‘s that good.
* Which is, no doubt, going to be the best DAMN bookstore we in the Southbay have seen in a looooooooonnnngggg time!!! If you live nearby, go check them out! I know the owners and they are great, book-loving folk!!!