Hater by David Moody
Recommended for people who liked Fight Club or Monster Nation
I picked up Hater at the bookstore and decided to try out the first few pages. Twenty minutes later, I was still standing in the aisle at Borders and figured I’d better just buy the damned book. I bought it in hardback, though I think I saw that it might be in paperback now? It was worth the money for the hardback.
This first-person story about a growing epidemic of rage is claustrophobic, gripping, and brilliant. Our narrator is an average guy who works in a cube, has two kids, a wife, and a grippingly-boring life. His first observation is of a man who goes crazy, stabs and old woman with his umbrella and continues fighting until the cops drag him away. He witnesses this brutality and then with all the aplomb of any big-city dweller goes on to:
Damn, it’s three minutes to nine. I’m going to be late for work again, but I can’t move. I’m stuck in this bloody crowd. There are people bunched up tight all around me and I can’t go backward or forward. I’ll have to wait until they start to shift, however long that takes. There are more police officers arriving now trying to clear the scene. It’s pathetic really, you’d think they’d show some respect but people are all the same. First sign of trouble on the street and everyone stops to watch the freak show.
We’re finally starting to move. I can still see that guy being bundled toward a police van on the other side of the street. He’s kicking and screaming, and crying like a bloody baby. Looks like he’s lost it completely. The noise he’s making you’d think he was the one who’d been attacked.
I’d don’t particularly like the main characters, but that doesn’t matter because I care about what happens to them as the world around them starts to go insane.
Basically, Hater is an epidemiological story of insanity as it spreads through the population. People start going crazy and attacking and killing others for no apparent reason. Eventually, the government, being called on to protect the population, institutes martial law.
What Moody manages to do is create genuine fear and tension as you read. You get the sense that you know this family. You watch the world go insane from their perspective. And it builds until the ultimate ending (which I refuse to spoil).
Sadly, this great wave of terror ends on a cliff-hanger note. The main story is wrapped up, but the ending leaves no question that this is supposed to be the start of a series. I’m crossing my fingers that we do get the next book. (Especially since Guillermo del Toro is planning to make it into a movie.)
The pacing and the wording make me think of Chuck Palahniuk. It’s that sort of devouring voice that pulls you in. And the story makes me think of Monster Nation in that it uses a tight perspective to show you how the world is going insane.
Actually, it also reminds me of a cheap little book I read about three years ago where the parents go insane and start trying to kill the children and the teenagers have to take over. I think I might have reviewed it. Let me see if I can find it. Yes! Here it is: Blood Crazy