01/02/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Gollancz. 361 page small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP12.99. ISBN: 978-0-575-08472-8.
check out websites: www.orionbooks.co.uk, www.davidmoody.netand www.thehatertrilogy.com
‘Them Or Us’ is the third book of author David Moody’s ‘Hater’ trilogy. Danny McCoyne is one of the few people who can hold in his hate that prevents him readily killing the Unchanged, those who...aren’t them. As such, his boss, Hinchcliffe, uses him to flush out hidden groups of Unchanged and even nearby groups, such as those at Lowestoft, who aren’t likely to abide by his rule. Although McCoyne thinks his use is going to rapidly run out, Hinchcliffe appears to appreciate the fact that he can voice his opinions and has started to think about the future. I suspect also, that he needs more than yes-men around him even though he needs that to stay in charge. McCoyne isn’t well. Quite sick in fact, affected by the radiation when nukes were let off to kill Haters in the major cities. Quite why he appears to be only one afflicted by radiation poisoning isn’t explained. Mankind is on the abyss of extinction and there is nothing much anyone can do about it.
On one of his encounters with a nearby community to see what kind of threat they are to Hitchcliffe, McCoyne encounters Peter Sutton, another like himself who has learnt how to suppress the hate reflex. A second encounter with Sutton finds an attempt to get him to help a hidden number of Unchanged. He doesn’t inform Hinchcliffe but does discover how terminal his life is. An encounter with another group preparing to attack Hinchcliffe’s colony town makes him realize that the Haters are just fighting for themselves now there is little of the UK that isn’t a radioactive wasteland now. Circumstances which are spoilerzone force him to make a decision.
In many respects, there are similarities between the ‘Hater’ novels and John Wyndham novels in keeping things grounded in reality, although as this is modern day, add a lot more attitude and violence. ‘Them Or Us’ is still very much of a page-turner and things that are introduced are used effectively later in the story without feeling too contrived. About the only thing I am critical of is turning the epilogue into third person when it could still work as first person. Moody is actually very good at first person writing and it’s a shame he didn’t realise that could still work here.
Moody also effectively shows that he didn’t need to explain what caused the change in the people and focused on how people got on with people when it’s taken to extremes. This is hardly mankind’s greatest hour and a sharp reminder as to how perilous civilisation is to savagery. Hater or Unchanged. Let’s hope for our own benefit we remain Unchanged. Read it and wonder.
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