Fifteen people trapped on a remote island in the North Sea struggle to survive during a violent outbreak.
This nasty new piece by prolific horror writer Moody (Strangers, 2014, etc.) is a side-quel to his popular survival trilogy that began with Haters (2006). He’s taken a different tack here, one that feels much more like a cinematic work than a literary one. Where Haters followed a single character, here Moody pulls back to a third-person omniscient POV to follow a Battle Royale–style contest of wits and guts among 15 people. The book is set on Skek, a deserted island once home to a military outpost and a science expedition, now the base for an extreme sports team-building enterprise. When a violent epidemic takes hold, things go sideways in a hurry. A young woman is shoved off a cliff after attacking another team member. A passenger ferry is found smashed up on shore, with only a bloody aftermath to reveal the fate of its passengers. Even amid all this terror, our heroes are delightfully self-aware. “It’s a bit bloody shortsighted if you ask me,” says one. “You’re running an extreme-sports center in the middle of the bloody ocean, and you don’t have a viable escape route?” In another exchange, a character named Paul calls out the most obvious analogy to his mate Matt. “It’s just that this sounds like the start of a shitty zombie movie, that’s all. It sounds fucking stupid, if I’m honest.” As with its spiritual predecessors, soon the remaining dozen or so survivors are divided between “Haters” and the “Unchanged,” hurtling toward the inevitable cliffhanger. It’s not high art by any stretch and lacks the sociological inquiry of Max Brooks’ World War Z, but for a bloody fun ride, it gets the job done.
Another wetwork nightmare that should delight fans of Haters and intrigue writers who wallow in the genre.