In his follow up to Hater, David Moody pulls off a point of view switch at the end of the first chapter that resonates throughout the novel, particularly once its main theme becomes apparent. Both Unchanged – those not afflicted with the compulsion to kill and maim those unlike them – and their opponents, the Haters, are starting to come to terms with the new version of society, and seem prepared do anything to rid the world of the other group.
Or at least, that’s the overall situation. On a personal level, people try to cope with life’s vicissitudes – overcrowding, illness – while maintaining some semblance of their sense of self. While Danny McCoyne is initially willing to partake in the massacres that characterise the Haters, he discovers he has a stronger urge – the need to protect his child. He doesn’t realise that his wife, one of the Unchanged, feels the same way, even though she has had to witness their daughter’s murder of her siblings. Can Hater and Unchanged actually work together if something bigger is at stake?
As with Hater, Moody deals with larger themes – notably here, how far will a parent defend the indefensible actions of their child? – within the tropes of a post-apocalyptic novel, elevating it above the multitude of such books currently on the shelves. The final part of the trilogy can’t come soon enough.
Verdict: Another bleak and powerfully uncomfortable journey for the reader. 7/10