The third and final book in the Hater trilogy (perhaps should be known as the Danny McCoyne trilogy) finishes a story arch that has seen humanity brought to the brink of extinction. The rise of the Hater has seen small nuclear exchanges take place in a desperate effort to stop them. It succeeded, sort of…millions dead on both sides, a nuclear winter and the country in ruins.
If you want to know what happened in the first two books, Hater and Dog Blood you can read the reviews for them here.
Them or Us picks up some time after the events of Dogs Blood and shows some Haters hunting down a group of weak Unchanged. They have no fight in them & they are dispatched with ease, the Haters enjoying every minute of it…well, except one who hangs back unwilling to take part. This is Danny McCoyne, or what’s left of him. A defeated, battered shell of a man his survival is entirely dependant on proving himself useful.
The Unchanged are few & far between and with no-one to take their aggression out on, the Haters are beginning to turn on each other. The baddest & maddest rise to the top and those desperate to survive gather round them. The parts of the country that are still habitable after the bombs dropped have seen mini-dictatorships rise & it is in one of these colonies that Danny has found himself useful.
His ability to hold the hate, drawing out any few surviving Unchanged has made him an important man to Hinchcliffe, a warlord sitting atop of one of the last major hater colonies. Danny has just about given up on the world; he lost everything and no longer sees the point in even killing the Unchanged but his ability to stop and think makes him an important pawn in Hinchcliffe’s plan. A plan that will see only Hinchcliffe & his minions left standing…
The world is coming to an end & the haters are turning on each other. The last of the Unchanged have no choice but to hide & hope.
Them or Us is an epic finish to a trilogy that has been nothing short of immense. The star of the books might be Danny McCoyne but Hinchcliffe steals the show here. Up to this point there hasn’t been a single character that could be identified as a ‘bad guy’, the hate is indiscriminate and it was never about taking sides. Well no more, Hinchcliffe is a bastard, a charismatic bastard but a bastard none the less. Psychotic but charming with an ability to manipulate everyone around him, he is someone you desperately want to see get his comeuppance.
That’s not to suggest that Danny isn’t thrilling to read about, at this stage we’ve senergy the man life change entirely. From being a harassed father and husband working in a dead end job to becoming a hater, learning to control it and desperately trying to find his hater daughter, to having one last reunion with his wife before losing his daughter & only just escaping a nuclear blast. Danny McCoyne is a survivor but here he’s finally had enough. It’s the end of his story, that much is made clear early on & it’s a fitting end to man that never asked for this.
Them or Us (David Moody)