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Hater by David Moody

1/07/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Hater in the USA - or Buy Hater in the UK

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pub: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. 281 page small paperback. Price: $13.99 (US) $16.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-312-60808-8.

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When I started reading this book, I thought the setting was in America rather than Britain. After all, we don't call places tenements nor trousers pants. A quarter of the way in, up come pubs and money, pounds not dollars and then soccer! Soccer?! If UK media is to be believed, we call it football over here so it would appear some words have been modified to make more sense to an American readership. Then again, the book was sent over from the States. If it gets a UK reprint, it'll be interesting to check if this adjustment is kept or uses British English. Saying that, this story could be easily adapted to work in both countries.

In many respects, David Moody's novel, 'Hater', is in the John Wyndham's SF school in starting off ordinary and then pulling the rug out from under your characters. Without reason, people are turning homicidal and killing friends, family, workmates or strangers simply because they don't belong. First, it's just the odd one or two then it turns into an epidemic and no one is safe.

Rather than start with some investigation of what is going on, Moody shows much of the story from first person with Danny McCoyne, a typical father, a family man with wife and three young children and a boring government job in car fines. Interspersed occasionally are samples of people suddenly going into attack mode. McCoyne would have to have been very unlucky to see all of them, although he did witness a couple although in these instances, he was like many people in getting out of the way than get involved. Then he realises that people are out to get him, too, unless he fights back. He doesn't even feel insane about it.

From here on, we're in spoiler territory and if I tell you any more plot, I'd have to kill you. Gods, this Hater plague is spreading, isn't it?

I should point out that this book is the first of a trilogy and is left up in the air so you need to read the second volume quickly to find out what happens next. In this reality, no one is safe and it illustrates how quickly a country can fall apart when something hits that no one is prepared for.

If I have to be critical then the inherent weakness lies with everyone turning on themselves. You would have thought the terrorists groups would have turned against their enemies quicker or even enemy countries calling an immediate war. Hopefully, the next two books will widen the scale of what is going on, let alone why. This is one book you will definitely want to read alone.

GF Willmetts

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