Audiobook Review: Hater by David Moody

23 02 2011

Hater by David Moody

Read by Gerard Doyle

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Horror

Quick Thought: While the world built by Moody was intriguing, the utterly unlikeable main character hampered my enjoyment of the novel.

Grade: C

As a fan of the upcoming Zombie apocalypse, I had wanted to read a David Moody novel for a while. I heard that his Autumn series had an interesting take on zombies and that his novel Hater had a 28 Days Later feel and was possibly getting the movie treatment by Guillermo Del Toro. So, finding Hater in audiobook form, I gave it a listen. Well, first the good. I really think that Moody has found quite an interesting take of the zombie theme. Now, Hater is not a zombie book, yet thematically it has a lot of similarities. I always thought that good zombie novels explored the fear of us, yet stripped away of our inhibitions and taboos. I think that is why most zombies are cannibalistic. Humanity is the ultimate predator, and strip away the social norms and our conscious we are ultimately capable of hunting ourselves. In Hater, Moody strips away the excuse of being dead and dwells on a change in desire. The Haters fear normal humanity and have an overwhelming desire to kill those that they feel will kill them first. This little change in brain chemistry and motivation gives us predators who still have some of their humanity, yet are overwhelmed by the fight side if the flight or fight instinct. It makes for a compelling setting.

Yet, the fascinating setting aside, the negatives of the novel seemed to prevent me from enjoying this unique look at humanity as much as I could have. First off, it was written in first person present, which I think can be a good tool to up the tension, but it always feels awkward to me when I listen to it. What made this use of tense much harder to take was that the main character, whose inner dialogue we relied on for this story was just so unlikable. I think Moody’s world would have been much more jarring and intriguing if it was revealed to us from a character that wasn’t already so overwhelmed by anger. Sure, his boss was a jerk, and his kids seemed insufferable, but you just knew that a large reason why was that the man was just this side of constant seething.  Maybe if Moody offered us a counterpoint to our main character, I could have embraced this novel, but when you’re hoping for someone to shove a butcher knife in the man’s noggin, it’s hard to enjoy yourself.

One last good thing about the audiobook, narrator Gerard Doyle excelled at the reading. While I didn’t like the main character, Doyle read him perfectly. You could hear the anger building, and you could feel the overwhelming confusion the main character was dealing with. His Irish tone was authentic yet accessible to us listeners across the pond. I think that with Moody’s interesting world and Doyle’s excellent reading I got just enough out of the novel to want to give its sequel, Dog Blood, a listen.

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One response

1 02 2012
Tanya/ dog eared copy

I agree that Danny McCoyne was not a very likable character; but I think this was a deliberate choice in Moody’s part. You had to see Danny the way others did: as a wimp and whiny little prick that you could bully. I thought Gerard Doyle’s narration was perfect: lackadaisical at the beginning to reflect Danny’s personality and lifestyle, then quickened at the end to reflect his changed circumstances.

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