Book Review: One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning by David Moody
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 4 of Hater
Publisher: Hardcover: Thomas Dunne Books; Audiobook: Macmillan Audio (December 5, 2017)
Length: Hardcover: 336 pages; Audiobook: 9 hrs and 24 mins
David Moody’s One of Us Will be Dead by Morning might be the first zombie-style book I’ve ever read that doesn’t involve actual zombies. All the post-apocalyptic themes may be there along with the survival elements and violent carnage, but instead of the living dead we have the “Haters”—normally sane, rational and self-controlled people who suddenly and inexplicably turn into feral, vicious killers. It sounded like a fascinating premise, so I decided to give this book a try after learning that the original Hater trilogy was not a prerequisite, since the story covers the events of the outbreak from the perspective of a whole different group of people.
We begin this tale on Skek, a tiny remote island somewhere in the middle of the North Sea between the coasts of the UK and Denmark. A group of corporate employees are on a team building retreat run by the staff of Hazleton Adventure Experiences, an outdoor recreation company. All together there are fifteen people on the island, which has no cellular coverage and little to no supplies beyond what might be necessary for immediate use. When the mangled body of one of the corporate employees is found shattered on the rocks beneath a tall crag, a co-worker is immediately blamed for her murder, though he insists that he was only acting in self-defense when he pushed her over the edge after she savagely attacked him. With no witnesses to the event, all anyone can do is wait for the next boat to ferry everybody back to the mainland.
The boat, however, never arrives. Instead, the islanders find the remains of it broken against Skek’s rocky shore, and within its hull they find a ghastly sight. As the days go by, their numbers start to dwindle as more of the group start dying under mysterious and violent circumstances, with repeated calls for assistance over the radio going unanswered. Cut off from the rest of the world, no one has a clue what’s happening on the mainland, and soon there’s even talk of having to ration food in case help never comes. As the situation becomes increasingly desperate, a rift begins to form between the survivors who are all paranoid and fearful that anyone around them can suddenly turn into a mindless homicidal maniac.
I’ll give the book this: it’s a fun, relatively quick read, and while you’ll probably forget the names of all the characters a few days later, that’s okay! It certainly got the job done and was entertaining while it lasted. Unflinchingly gory and brutal, the story will be a real treat for fans of post-apocalyptic survival horror. The remote setting also meant a small-scale but intense thriller, where powerful emotions like fear, anxiety, and anger drove most of the plot. To give you an idea of what that was like, try to recall the worst stress you’ve ever experienced while dealing with a boss or co-worker you despise. Now imagine that office drama multiplied by an order of magnitude unfolding on a tiny barren island upon which all of you are trapped, knowing that at any moment, anyone might lose their mind and tear your esophagus out with their teeth. Drain away all hope, and the stage is set for a darkly claustrophobic and terrifying tale featuring a modern twist on a classic idea.
On the other hand, characters in novels like these tend to be weakly sketched, as I alluded to before, given how most of them are written solely as fodder for their various gruesome deaths. With the exception of a few key characters, no one was all that well developed, and my memories of those who died early are limited only to vague impressions and snippets of conversations. Like watching a paint-by-numbers slasher film, there were no surprises involved and the emotional impact was minimal whenever something disastrous or tragic occurred. It also didn’t help that the majority of characters were very unpleasant, and I was glad to see the end of many of them if for no other reason than knowing I didn’t have to read about them anymore. Still, what you see is what you get when it comes to this genre, so as long as you know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed.
For that reason, I think I would like to continue with the next book. Novels like One of Us Will be Dead by Morning are designed to scratch a certain itch for me as a horror reader; they’re like candy for the brain and occasionally the mood for a fun popcorn read like this will strike. The book also ends on a mild cliffhanger, and I’d very much like to know what will happen next. I’m definitely going to be keeping my eye out for more from David Moody.
Audiobook Comments: This book is also available as an audiobook, which I also want to say a few words about. The narrator Gerard Doyle delivered a decent performance, though because of his accent, I sometimes found him hard to understand. Still, this was just a minor issue, certainly not a deal breaking one, and overall there’s nothing that would stop me from recommending this to audiobook fans.