From Austen to zombies!
There aren't so many good horror books around these days--I look at the horror section and see the Southern Vampire Mysteries or Twilight. Those aren't too bad, but they are NOT scary. I want scary.
Hater gave me enough scary to last for a couple of weeks. It has the classic structure of early Stephen King, where we meet the main character and The Bad Situation slowly spreads, giving the book momentum. By the end you're completely unable to stop listening.
The Bad Situation, in this case, is that normal people are suddenly going plain bonkers and killing family members, coworkers, even random bystanders. These once-normal people are the Haters of the title, and from the first description you're wondering how long society will last before the breakdown.
Danny McCoyne hates his life as a minor civil servant, but the Haters eventually get past even his rock-solid insulation. He comes off as a bit of a whiner for about the first quarter of the book (not helped by the slightly-whiney narrator), but later on he loses the tone and you start hoping nothing bad's going to happen to him.
Like all good speculative fiction, Hater draws parallels to our own society. It points out how sharply divided we are over things that seem pretty small in the long view. It doesn't offer incisive commentary or anything, but the metaphor gives Hater a good hook.
I give the book four stars because some parts could have been edited out without changing much about the story. Also, one caution--some scenes are extremely violent, and I hope the upcoming movie goes a little easy on those. But overall, at 7+ hours, Hater is a good time investment that will return a LOT of scary for your credits!
This book was entertaining enough. I like the concept and sorta cared what happend to the main character. I could relate to his bad days and frustrations. It even made me want to get away from the main characters kids, they were pretty annoying. It's not scarey but it takes a lot to scare me. Narrator was ok, someone else could have done worse, someone else could have done better. All in all, not bad but I probably won't remember it in a week or two.
This book is read and written perfectly for what its intent is. However, as its intent is to set up character(s) in a world where society is consently pounding them into submission, hearing the setup is as painful to me as to the narrator as it really is successful at setting up the tension (I'll use that word for lack of better one as I don't want to spoil the plot).
I did have trouble early on listening to the book because of that, but I'm glad I stuck with it. The book could not have been better sped up. It needs to build up the background properly, and it did it.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
Of course, it's not *exactly* a Zombie novel...
It's short and fast-paced and... moralizing. There is some "message" in here regarding anger and violence and a displaced, dis-enthused generation. A diatribe against that horrifying condition called "adulthood". It seems as though the main character is mad at the world because he's "all grown up" and now has to *gasp* WORK to pay the bills and feed his kids. (Well, tough nuggies buddy... welcome to the real world.)
Of course, the "zombification" of the world gets him off the hook and he can go about getting even with the status quo.
The author tries a bit too hard to be shocking (it'll jump from character to character in order to show another scene of someone getting murdered) and not hard enough to keep the whining out of the main character - to the point where I was hoping some zombie would have a munch on him, if only so he'd shut up.
The narration is good.
An indication of just how little this audiobook held my interest is that I had 15 minutes of the book remaining at one point, but it was a week before it occurred to me to finish it.
I spent the first 3/4 of the book mostly annoyed by the main character, who is what an anti-hero would be if you subtracted the "hero." He spends most of his time complaining ad nauseum how terrible his life is - work, family, the world in general. I mean, this goes on and on and on, paragraph after paragraph, to the point that you wish they guy would just walk off a cliff somewhere. And yet he admits to being lazy, unable to control his actions, bad with money, etc. It's really hard to like this guy.
Also, the author took the unusual approach of alternating between first person present tense and third person past tense. That didn't work for me.
I don't mind a slow build-up so long as there is some kind of identifiable progression of the plot, but in this book you realize early on that there are "haters" and that their numbers are rising, and you just end up in a holding pattern for most of the rest of the book, until at last something happens toward the last act or two. I can safely advise that if at any point you get bored in his story, just skip ahead to the next section, and you won't have missed any critical plot points. It's just more of the same.
The end was okay. No spoilers here, except to say I'd have liked more resolution after all that tedious, annoying build-up. I think the author was attempting some kind of philosophical argument about hate, but it's not clear what he was going for. Presumably the person who spontaneously kills people is on equal moral footing with those who try to kill him as a consequence, or something like that? Very murky.
Story is set in England so the reader is English. The accent was more Ricky Gervais than Hugh Grant, though. Suited the character.
I am speechless at how brilliant this book was. Immediately had to purchase the next in the series and am now very eagerly and impatiently awaiting the third.
I only listen to books while I drive. Once a month or so I drive to Laughlin and once or twice a year I drive from California to Florida. I am always looking for good audio books to listen to on those drives. I just finished Hater on my last trip to Laughlin and I loved it!
Gerard Doyle's voice I thought was perfect for this character. I could feel his frustrations and fears in the way he spoke. He had this everyman quality but an everyman that is really tired of and beaten down by life that I could totally understand.
The book kept my interest non-stop. I wanted to know what was happening. I cared what happened to the main character and the twist towards the end was well done because even as it was happening you're not really sure if what's happening is what you think is happening. Well done!
I look forward to the sequel out in June 2010.
"Hater" stands out among plague/zombie fiction in that it has something to offer beyond thrills and chills. The story itself is simple and fairly straightforward (with one not very surprising twist), but the themes suggested by the novel are not.
"Hater" isn't an action-packed gorefest (although both elements are present in the work), and may seem slow for readers expecting more of an action story.
But for readers who enjoy plague/zombie fiction, and have been waiting for a novel that is not only thrilling but well-written and insightful, I unreservedly recommend "Hater."
I listen to a lot of audiobooks and must say this is by far the all time worst yet.
The story develops so slowly. I was thinking the pace would pick up when the story got interesting.
It never did pick up the pace or get interesting.
There is this long build up to nothing. It is like the author had to finish the story for a deadline because it just ends telling you little to nothing.
There are a lot of other audiobooks out there to pick that are real thrillers. This book literally put me to sleep at times.
The only thing that kept me going through to the end was the forlorn hope that the main character, Danny, would get killed by the "haters." Sadly, it was not to be. Like many other reviewers noted, Danny and his wife are adult children, no more responsible than their three real children. Danny whines and complains about EVERYTHING. He says he loves his wife and kids - then launches into a diatribe about them "pissing me off" and "I'm losing my patience." The book is constant repetition of this "woe is me" theme until the end, when Danny changes. Then it's constant repetition on why what he's doing is so right and natural.
********SPOILER, SORT OF************
Most novels revolve the main character recognizing a flaw in their character and the situation of the story forcing them to confront that flaw and change for the better. "Haters" does the opposite. Danny is eventually given free reign to his displeasure with society and his family. Problem is the rationale is so weak that there is no explanation as to what the "haters" are or why they feel threatened by the "others." They kill because "it's kill or be killed" but Moody gives no example where one of the "others" attempts to kill a "hater" first. The Haters are the instigators. True, the government begins rounding up haters for extermination, but since Haters kill non-haters on sight what choice is there? Moody, I think, attempts, I think, to make Danny a sympathetic character, but fails by not explaining the unreasonable fear Haters have of the "others." I made it to the end and was presented by a "to be continued," no thanks.