Zombos Says: Very Good
This conflict wasn't faction versus faction or army against army; it was individual versus individual, more than six billion armies of one. Beyond that, the Hate didn't care who you were, where you were, or what you were. You were simply on one side or the other, your position in this new, twisted, f**ked-up world decided without your involvement by unknown variables and fate.
The beauty of David Moody’s Dog Blood is how you can read so much or so little into it. Pile on the metaphors of your choice and pontificate away, or ignore them and become mired in a broken world crumbling down around broken lives. This downward spiral of hopelessness, of collapsing societies, of forlorn, shock-weary masses of people crushing in on themselves, and of mindless hatred leading to endless killing is depressing, frightening, and shamefully engrossing.
Picking up the apocalyptic speed from Hater, his first book in this it's-them-or-us trilogy, the Unchanged are struggling against shattered selves and the Haters, those aggression-infected individuals who hunt and kill anyone not like them; family members kill family members, strangers kill strangers, friends kill friends, grinding them into bloody pulp in the process. As in any good horror play, the Haters are more organized, more determined, and much more deadly than the Unchanged, who are herded into the cities and penned up by the military providing questionable protection while stripping away their humanity, and quelling any incursion of agression by mass obliteration of the infected area. Making a terrible situation worse are the Brutes, a new generation of Haters that are stronger, totally unreasoning, and never tire of killing. They're like Saruman's Uruk-hai in the Lord of the Rings.
Danny McCoyne, a Hater, has one goal: to find his five year old daughter, Ellis. He will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal because she is like him. We watch and follow him through his own voice, but this is no longer only about him. There are millions of others, on both sides, and Moody slices chapters between Danny's search for his daughter and Danny's Unchanged cousin, Mark--and his squalid existence--to open up the bigger situation all around both of them enough to slip it all neatly into a handbasket and kick it hard and fast down a steep slope leading straight to a hellish climax of destruction.
Mark is one of thousands of Unchanged, holding on with exasperation and desperation as food, water, shelter, and safety dwindle. Assigned a small hotel room by the military, he shares it with his pregnant wife, her overwhelmed-to-shutdown parents who can't get out of bed, and someone else hiding in the locked bathroom. Mark tries to keep it all under control but failure is imminent when another person, a loudly complaining stranger, is dumped in the room with them, by the military, in spite of his protests.
As Mark deals with escalating frustration and worries over his unborn child, Danny fumes at being delayed from finding Ellis by an organized group of Haters who have a secret plan for killing every Unchanged man, woman, and child, and by the bipartisan-thinking Mallon, a man who forces Danny to control his hate enough to keep him from bashing heads in at every opportunity. Their combined effect on Danny make him question the ultimate purpose of everyone involved, including his own.
Moody piles up the rotting bodies in every nook and cranny without remorse or compassion because heroics and sanity play no part in this shattered world. His paragraphs are long but concise and filled with small details to describe much, like the ubiquitousness of the dead when Danny realizes he's stepping on a corpse only by the crunching sound of its brittle fingers he's grinding underfoot.
Even now I can hear those metaphors rustling furtively in your brain and similes kicking up gray dust. Just remember it's only a novel, though it would be best if you read it on the beach during a bright summer day.
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