Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Isbn-10: 0006476007 | Isbn-13: 9780006476009 | Publish date: 16/06/1997 | Edition New Ed
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Rafa said on Jan 10, 2011, 20:40
*** This comment contains spoilers! ***
This book opens with a bang, an exhilarating near-capture of the protagonist, Hoke, an American pilot living in war-ruined London amongst hundreds of thousands of time-charred corpses. In this novel, in 1945 Hitler unleashed a virus that decimated all blood groups except for AB type. Hoke has AB type blood, and he’s been on the run for three years from a slow-dying group of crazies known as Blackshirts… they want his blood for their leader (a blood transfusion which they believe will save his life and their own. It's false science, but logic and reason don’t mean much to these people. They will do anything to get that blood – to get Hoke.
The novel is fast paced and exhilarating. The scenes of death and suffering are shocking, but the descriptions never become stale. Herbert has a gift of making every scene vibrant, and the horrific, crumbling corpses that pervade almost every moment of these character’s lives, are newly disturbing every time I was faced with one (or dozens, as the case may be).
Hoke is a hardened man, he keeps his grief (and feelings) at a distance, but he is not inhuman, and as the novel progresses and the hunt becomes increasingly dire and complicated, Hoke is run ragged – physically and emotionally. It is late in the novel that we learn the truth of what he has endured, and it’s not pretty.
If I ever live to write action sequences even half as good as these, I’ll be a happy woman. But, until then, I’m going to search out more of James Herbert’s novels. His is a writing style that I could quickly learn to love.
On the negative, the novel is short, it is what I consider to be a thrill-and-spill, that is, it gets the blood pumping but doesn't leave a lasting impression. There is no deeper message here, at least I didn't gain one, and there's little emphasis on characterisation. This purely is action-adventure, and it works. It really does work. If I read too many of these kinds of novels though, I think I'd have a coronary. Maybe SK's slow pace isn't so bad afterall... sometimes.
Caroline said on Mar 26, 2008, 02:08