21:32 Jazz Blackwell 0 Comments

So I did totally intend for this post to go up on Halloween. As I'm sure you're aware, that didn't quite happen, and I'd like to apologise for that. You see, I got called to rather an important meeting with my very close friend, the good sir Jack Daniels, and my blogging schedule became slightly wonky. However, I personally feel that it's always a good time for a bit of horror - why limit it to one day? So, with my sincerest apologies, this post is going up a day late.

Book Title: '48
Series: N/A
Author: James Herbert
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Dystopian
My rating: 5/5

Written by the late and great James Herbert, '48 is actually one of my favourite novels of all time, not just within the horror genre. It's a somewhat different perspective on the dystopian theme that's so popular as of late - rather than being set in the distant future, it creates its own alternate version of history. 

Set three years after the conclusion of World War 2 (hence the title), the novel follows American fighter pilot Eugene Nathaniel Hoke, known almost exclusively by his surname. He is one of the few survivors of a biological weapon deployed by Hitler moments before he was defeated. The weapon - which came in the shape of v2 missiles - wiped out the majority of the human race with a disease known as 'The Blood Death'. However, some people have suffered the 'Slow Death', a long and drawn out version of the disease. Others are lucky enough to be of the blood type AB negative, and are thus immune to all forms of the disease. Stranded in what's left of London, constantly hiding from the diseased Blackshirts who are after his clean blood, Hoke only has a stray mutt named Cagney for company. Until he's rescued. 

This novel - as with most of Herbert's work - is beautifully written. It's fast-paced, it's exciting, it's funny and at the same time, heart-wrenchingly sad.  Hoke - although of questionable sanity and, on the surface, a cold-hearted sod- is one of those characters who really manages to worm his way into your heart. Despite the tough exterior, he's revealed to be not quite as hard as he would have people believe, and actually really has something of a sensitive side. He's also got a great sense of humour, though, and you'll laugh with him as much as you'll cry for him. 

Herbert, rest his soul, is one of my favourite authors because of his ability to create such realistic worlds and characters in such an unrealistic genre as horror. No novel demonstrates this quite so well as '48. Several times I had to stop and remind myself that this did not actually happen, that London was never a wasteland as described in the book (that's where a B in GCSE History gets you, folks!). Herbert also had an incredible knack for making you feel exactly how he wanted you to feel about his characters; you'll love Hoke because Herbert wanted you to love Hoke. You'll hate Hubble because Herbert wanted you to hate him. And as for some other characters... well, you'll be left confused about exactly how you feel about them - and guess what? It's because Herbert wanted you to be confused! 

If you're into dystopian and/or horror/thriller novels, I implore you to read this book. However, please be aware that it contains themes of war, disease and betrayal, strong bloody gore and violence, some strong language, and implied sexual scenes. If you are easily upset and/or offended by any of these things, please approach the novel with caution. 

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