[Book Review] ‘Them or Us’ Concludes ‘Hater’ Trilogy!

In stores tomorrow from Thomas Dunne Books is “Them or Us”, the heart-pounding conclusion to David Moody’s “Hater” trilogy!

The war that has torn the human race apart is finally nearing its end. With most towns and cities now uninhabitable, and with the country in the grip of a savage nuclear winter, both Hater and Unchanged alike struggle to survive.

Hundreds of Hater fighters have settled on the East Coast in the abandoned remains of a relatively undamaged town under the command of Hinchcliffe—who’ll stop at nothing to eradicate the last few Unchanged and consolidate his position at the top of this new world order. This fledgling society is harsh and unforgiving—your place in the ranks is decided by how long and how hard you’re prepared to fight.

Danny McCoyne is the exception to the rule. His ability to hold the Hate and to use it to hunt out the remaining Unchanged has given him a unique position in Hinchcliffe’s army of fighters. As the enemy’s numbers reduce, so the pressure on McCoyne increases, until he finds himself at the very center of a pivotal confrontation, the outcome of which will have repercussions on the future of everyone who is left alive.

Read Ryan Daley’s review of the final entry after the break. Them or Us David MoodyThe conclusion to David Moody’s slam-bang horror trilogy has finally arrived. Hater introduced anti-hero Danny McCoyne and the sudden change in the UK populace that resulted in a bloody civil war. It was a head-rush of a read that oozed repressed resentment and breezy violence, while Dog Blood, the sequel, was more philosophical and sentimental, sending McCoyne scurrying around a war-torn UK in search of his lost daughter, and eventually culminating in a nuclear exchange that left the country decimated. If Hater is Anarchy and Dog Blood is War, Them or Us is a straight-up Holocaust, a hugely satisfying finale that really hits the post-apocalyptic sweet spot.

In a world ravaged by wholesale destruction and radiation sickness, Danny McCoyne has been forced to adapt to the pack mentality of his fellow Haters, a group so intent on finding and killing the remaining Unchanged, they neglect to see the big picture. With food scarce and the population dwindling, the Haters are driven solely by their desire to kill, and the constant rotation of bloodthirsty leaders is cannibalizing the group from within. But Danny, who has learned to “Hold the Hate”, is starting to see the futility of the path they have chosen. Once the last remaining Unchanged have been vanquished, what then? If you’re part of a species that’s all about the hunt, what happens when you run out of prey?

The narrative crux of Them or Us rests on the tenuous relationship between Danny and a man named Hinchcliffe––the sadistic, manipulative boss who oversees their modest community of Haters. Hinchcliffe rules his little kingdom with “the two F’s: fear and food”, dispersing meager rations to the malnourished Haters while keeping the best supplies (and women) for himself. After Hinchcliffe hears about Danny’s ability to “Hold the Hate”, he dispatches him to spy on a group of settlers who have broken off into their own fringe group. Once Danny arrives at the settlement and discovers that there’s an alternative to Hinchcliffe’s iron-fisted methods, he’s forced to choose a side once and for all.

Like the two previous entries, Them or Us flaunts a blistering pace and riveting dialogue. It may not be as action-driven as Hater or Dog Blood, but some subtext involving classism and social order adds an additional layer of relevance, making for a thoughtful, contemplative read. My only problem with the Hater trilogy lies with Moody’s unwillingness to fully explore all of the fascinating ideas he introduces during the run of the series. In Them or Us, a harrowing subplot involving a Hinchcliffe-run breeding program is briefly mentioned, before being abandoned entirely. The super-cool, super-Hating Brutes are introduced in Dog Blood, but Moody doesn’t seem to know what to do with them in Them or Us, and simply drives them toward extinction. But that’s a single, minor complaint. If Moody’s sole problem as an author is his inability to expand on all of the highly imaginative ideas he proposes, well, that’s something I’m willing to let go.

4/5 Skulls