Them Or Us

David Moody

them or usThe war that has torn the human race apart is nearing its end. With the country in the grip of a nuclear winter, both Hater and Unchanged struggle to survive. Hinchcliffe, leader of an army of Haters, will stop at nothing to be at the top of the new world order.

For me, ‘Them or Us’, the third and final instalment in the ‘Hater’ series was the best book by far in the trilogy.

For those of you that have not read the previous two books, the premise is simple. In ‘Haters’, the world has suddenly split into two groups of people. The ‘Unchanged’ are the majority of the population who have, unsurprisingly, not experienced any changes. Then there are the ‘Haters’. There is no way of working out who may turn into a ‘Hater’. Just imagine one moment you’re plodding along as content as can be, the next moment you have this uncontrollable urge to kill the person walking past you in the street. Inexplicably, you just know who is a fellow ‘Hater’ and who is the ‘Unchanged’ that must be eradicated.

Moody is the master of slow building tension. In the first book, as you witness the worlds population slowly start to fall apart it is almost painful to read, as Moody focuses on the mundaneness of the lead character’s life interspersed with shocking scenes of violence and the tension just increases throughout until you get to the shocking finale which is truly, ‘jaw drop’ worthy.

The second book, ‘Dog Blood’ details the build up and inevitable conclusion between the ‘Haters’ and the ‘Unchanged’, whilst the two groups are fairly evenly matched, the ‘Unchanged’ by their larger population, the Haters due to their unflinching ferocity towards the ‘Unchanged’. Due to the stepping stones Moody put in place in book one in terms of character building, the events that unfold in book two are all the more heart wrenching and your jaw is now touching the floor as you race through the closing chapters.

In this book, Great Britain has now been ravaged by numerous nuclear attacks by both the ‘Unchanged’ and the ‘Haters’ leaving the majority of the kingdom uninhabitable and in the midst of an unforgiving nuclear winter. The ‘Unchanged’ are now far and few between, slowly being hunted to extinction. The ‘Haters’ primary function which was killing the ‘Unchanged’ is pretty much redundant. They are left trying to adjust to a harsh environment where food and provisions are limited and only those that are useful in some way stand the slightest chance of getting provision and security whilst infighting and abuse between the Haters is rife.

Our protagonist Danny McCoyne, a man who has certainly been no hero for either side is physically and emotionally spent and just wants to be left alone. He continues to reign in the ‘Hate’ a rare skill that enables him to be within close contact of the Unchanged whilst suppressing the urge to kill. This makes him noticed by ‘Hinchcliffe’ a bully of a man that rules the large Hater community Danny resides with and uses him to flush out the remaining ‘Unchanged’.

As his future existence and that of his peers looks bleaker and bleaker under Hinchcliffe’s brutal regime, Danny is forced to choose a side when conflicts between the ‘Haters’ themselves and of course the remaining few ‘Unchanged’ come to a climax. This results with his decisions and actions being the main turning point to end at least this trilogy’s final chapter.

Guillermo del Toro has acquired the rights to make this series into a movie and it will be very interesting to see how the story is reflected on screen.

Verdict: This series will stay with me for a long time. It’s morbid, shocking and an absolutely fascinating and thought provoking read.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Genre: Horror
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British book
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