Review of Hater by David Moody

May 4, 2010
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Hater by David MoodyHater
By David Moody; Read by Gerard Doyle
6 CDs – Approx. 7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433292866
Themes: / Horror / England / Apocalypse /
A modern take on the classic “apocalyptic” novel, Hater tells the story of Danny McCoyne, an everyman forced to contend with a world gone mad, as society is rocked by a sudden increase in violent assaults. Christened “Haters” by the media, the attackers strike without warning and seemingly without reason. Within seconds, normally rational, self-controlled people become frenzied, vicious killers. As the carnage mounts, one thing soon is clear: everyone, irrespective of race, gender, age, or class, has the potential to become either a Hater or a victim. At any moment, even friends and family can turn on one another with violent intent. In the face of this mindless terror, all McCoyne can do is secure his family, seek shelter, and watch as the world falls apart. But when he bolts the front door, the question remains: Is he shutting the danger out or locking it in?

I think point of view is very important to telling a story. In most of Hater author David Moody seems to be actively working to subvert POV. Scenes that should be described from a third person perspective, like extended action by a non-participant, shouldn’t be told from a first person present tense – at least they shouldn’t if you’re already playing with other POVs.

This problem with Hater might not be so obvious had any of the characters been anything other than depressingly repellent. Danny McCoyne is supposed to be an everyman. Apparently David Moody thinks an everyman has a crappy job, a hateful boss, a shrewish wife, and a sackful of unruly, selfish kids. One review called this section of the book an evocation of “the quiet desperation of an ordinary life.” Another wrote: “[Danny’s] inner monologue consists mainly of complaining about his personal and financial situation.” Myself, I think that Moody has deliberately created, in Danny McCoyne, a character so satisfied in his blame game in-authenticity, so full of what the existentialists call “bad faith,” that you are supposed to be hoping to have him shocked into action, into taking control of his life and living in the world. The problem with this theory is that if its true Hater shouldn’t really be a novel. It’s not a good idea to have your audience sitting through four hours of blech to get to the revelation, however revelatory. And yet, about 5/6th of the way through this novel the thing that I’d been waiting for, hoping for, almost demanding really, finally happened. And, it happened pretty much as I expected it would. Perhaps if Danny McCoyne been a touch brighter he would have seen it coming too. I don’t read a lot of zombie fiction, or zombie-like ficition, but the idea Moody presents is a good one – it just shouldn’t have been done this way. Perhaps another problem here is that Hater seems to want to exist in a world in which books like I Am Legend had never been written. There’s a mainstream pitch to this novel that I can’t imagine has actually increased sales any.

Here are some more of the silly mistakes in Hater: Apparently there is no internet in David Moody’s England. Danny McCoyne’s family basically lives in front of the television, and most conversations and arguments that they have are about what they see on the TV. That’s just retarded. I know there are some people out there who just refuse to participate in the internet, but I can’t imagine that when the television stops even pretending to deliver relevant news that a family, desperate for some facts about what’s happening in the outside world, wouldn’t turn on their computer. Also dumb is that the exact location of events are never revealed, we get plenty of evidence that the story is set in a mid-sized English city. Danny lives in a “flat,” the police carry “truncheons” and the buses are double-deckers – the Prime Minster is mentioned. It’s England. We got it. But then with the cadence and dialogue also smacks of English suburbia why isn’t the place just out and named then? Well, maybe it was, and then it was edited out in some kind of half-hearted attempt to appeal to American audience. Yes, my friends Hater is a novel with strategic word changes. There are both “football fans” and “soccer fans” in Hater. I hate this kind of sad sack editing. It’s in the intellectually diminutive tradition of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Zone (aka Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone). It doesn’t make me a Hater-fan it just makes me a hater.

I quite enjoyed the Darker Projects audio drama adaptation of Moody’s novel Autumn. Autumn was later adapted into a truly terrible film. Apparently Hater has been optioned as well. I think the film will be better than the movie, by at least 4 hours. I’m not sure about narrator Gerard Doyle, his delivery is very English, very approriate, I guess, but this material doesn’t exactly make me associate good with the sound of his voice. The cover, made for Blackstone Audio, is a vast improvement over the truly uninspiring paperbook edition.

Incidentally, there’s a podcast preview (with a different narrator) available through iTunes |HERE|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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