Review of Hater by David Moody

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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8 thoughts to “Review of Hater by David Moody”

  1. You Have to be an American… only an American would complain about not being spelled out to them as to where the story takes place. And the computer thing that family doesn’t have one there are lots of people with families who work at job great jobs and bad ones,that don’t have computers and some poor families that do. I bought into it. Here I’ll spell it out for you: The time of this story is 1992 or late 80’s

  2. Andrew, you’re probably someone who doesn’t do enough research, or maybe somebody who just makes assumptions too quickly.

    Myself, I’d guess, that you’re a Canadian (like myself), living in the region of Halifax (unlike myself) and that you like to ride scooters. I prefer cars myself. But, I don’t base these assumptions on anything other than the fact that your IP shows you’re in Halifax and that you posted about buying a scooter on some forum.

    It is entirely possible that Hater was supposed to be set in the past. It might explain the apparent gaff. I see no other evidence to support it being alternate history. I would suspect that Moody deliberately avoided the problem of the internet because he wanted to actively encourage the disparity between Danny, the guy who just has stuff happen to him, and Danny the guy who does stuff. TV is a passive medium, Danny is a passive guy, for the majority of the novel. That fits. Bringing the internet in would make Danny too active, early on, so Moody just didn’t bring it in.

    I bet there are families, somewhere in England, that don’t have computers or use the internet. In the circumstances Danny finds himself in Id bet they’d kick themselves for that.

    You are allowed to like the book BTW.

  3. I don’t reseach on people I comment on who are on the internet. Yah my assumptions are quick sometimes but after reseach of you I see you are in BC and you can’t get any closer than that to the US some my assumption was pretty much rate on. And being in BC I see your dislike for Halifax, and for some reason what I drive, I have know idea what that has to with this, if I had done any reseach, I could care less for what you drive because that has nothing to do with what I had commented on. And for the record I have a scooter I also have 3 other cars one daily drive and 2 antique.

    BTW I did enjoy the book without knowing the city or no computers mention in the story

  4. Finally, an intelligent review of Hater. I was about to give up searching for one. Bravo, Jesse.

    Personally, my main problems with Hater, in addition to those you mentioned (and I’m not American, mind you) are:

    #1: very slow-moving plot: if it was written well enough it wouldn’t have been a problem, but with Moody, it is.

    #2: so it’s a trilogy, you’re not going to get EVERY answer and every conclusion at the end of the first book, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be ANY answers (a good, simple example: why the haters are so afraid of the unchanged at first, or at least a description of the narrator experiencing that fear). more importantly, there should have been something INTERESTING at the end of the book, even if not an answer.

    #2: weak writing. Moody spoon-feeds the reader the narrator’s emotiosn all the time, to such an extent that I think this was the main reason the POV was Danny, not some elaborate literary technique. Moody simply had no talent in trying to portray emotions through dialogue.

  5. Firstly, I have to say that I have read the original ‘Hater’ book and loved it and then I made the mistake of listening to the audio version as narrated by Gerard Doyle. I love the story but hate Gerard Doyle’s narrative, he makes everything sound so dull and uninteresting I am not surprised you did not enjoy this experience. However, I take issue with your comments regarding David Moody’s setting and telling of the story, I live in England, near London and I know many families, my own included, who had no internet access back in 2006, regardless of the fact that I live 50 minutes drive from INNER LONDON (CITY) I had NO internet in 2006, most people who DID have internet only had one computer and had very slow speeds, slow enough that you would rather catch a bus into town than do your shopping online. Do you get the picture? England is still not exactly high speed but it’s getting there, slowly, but we do not appreciate the ‘dissing’ of Mr Moody over your misconceptions and misunderstanding of British Internet.
    As to the naming of a locale, well why would David bother to mention a Town or City that nobody outside of the UK would even recognise? I understand this, why can you not do so? Why is the name of the city/town/village SO important to you?

  6. Thank you for mentioning the alternative narration, I checked it out and dislike Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff’s version more than I dislike Gerard Doyles, one is bland and boring (nothing to do with being English since Mr Doyle is Irish) and the other is overacted American bland. I call it bland because it is, no matter how much he overacts he is bland and boring just as Mr Doyle was.
    The original paperback was enthralling and original however, I think you should stick with American authors to be on safe ground since you clearly have no understanding of other cultures at this time,

  7. Zombiegoth.

    I didn’t intend to dis Mr. Moody. I think if you read my review again you will notice that I actually appreciated what he was doing with the book but that it was a mistake in timing. I liked the change in the main character from a passive person to an active person – it fit with his consuming of TV to the exclusion of anything else. The lack of internet stands out like a sore thumb. It’s true not everyone was on the internet in 2006. But most folks, even in 2006 were aware that some people were using it, and that it generally had information that might be useful to them. Our main character doesn’t acknowledge that fact. It’d be like a guy without a cell phone, trapped in an airport without a quarter. Other people have cellphones, he could think of that, borrow one. Etc.

    I don’t read books for entertainment alone. I read them so as to learn. I don’t think the lack of specificity with regard to city names helped make any point. Maybe it had a point, and I just missed it.

    Had it been named I may have recognized it, and learned from it.

    As for me sticking with American authors, I shall not. As I am trying to have understanding of other cultures.

  8. Regarding the issue of McCoyne resident not being hooked up to the internet, Danny himself makes mention Them or Us: “We didn’t even have a computer at home. Couldn’t afford the Internet.” Of course, this should probably have been mentioned in “Hater” itself, but given given how often Danny’s perilous financial situation is cited it shouldn’t be much of a leap to imagine the family having to go without such a luxury.

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