The war between the Haters and the Unchanged rages on in the follow-up to Moody’s taut horror/suspense debut Hater (2009).
When readers last saw Danny McCoyne, he and a bunch of his fellow Haters had just escaped certain death in a facility set up by the Unchanged, the people who were not affected by whatever it is that causes the Haters to feel an urgent need to kill those who are not like them. Now, several months later, war has broken out, with the Haters running free in the countryside while the Unchanged have withdrawn to cramped refugee camps in major urban areas. The Unchanged have greater numbers, a semi-functional society and a military on their side, while the Haters have single-minded focus, brutality and an unquenchable lust to kill going for them. Which isn’t to say that some Haters—Danny included—can’t still use their brains. Danny is currently on a quest to find his daughter, Ellis, who, unlike his wife and two sons, is also a Hater. Then, he is captured and tranquilized by a small group of Unchanged. He wakes up chained, under the “care” of Joseph Mallon, an Unchanged who attempts to train Danny to keep his need to kill in check. Mallon’s techniques seem to pay off. Eventually, with some effort, Danny can just manage to be unrestrained in the same room as Mallon without killing him, which is a significant accomplishment for a Hater. Mallon decides that Danny is ready to meet Sahota, the man in charge. But can a Hater really stop hating? If Moody’s Hater books follow the familiar zombie story of civilization rent to tatters by mindless, bloodthirsty former humans, they turn it on its ear by speaking with the voice of one of the zombies rather than one of their victims. Readers have seen a pre-Hater Danny head off to his dead-end job, get frustrated with his kids and engage in other everyday activities. That, along with Moody’s spare prose, makes the book’s scenes of brutal violence all the more affecting.
Lean, relentless and terrifying.