Monday, July 11
1948 - James Herbert
'48 - The Story
1945 , Hitler is losing the war , but does not want to go down without a bang , so he creates one .. literally , he drops the V-2 bombs over London ... it is a bomb that makes the blood in the body coagulate instantaeously kills the victims agonsingly. Those who are not fortunate enough to die instantaneously , die slowly but painfully , eyes puff up , veins are painfully swollen and visible all over the body .. agonsing and painfull when the mericful death finally arrives , but it arrives messily , blood spilling out like water from the fissures in a dam.
All over, people are infected by this deadly virus(?) and are dead/dying, miraculously, though people with an AB negative blood group are seemingly unaffected by the disease.
Cut to 1948 , where our story begins , Hoke an airforce pilot is holed up in his (den) one of the ruined houses , when the chase begins .... a few dying people ( the black shirts) believe that if their blood is transfused with the AB neg blood, they may have the chance to live , thus Hoke has to live in constant peril. He has his dog Cagney and his motorcycle for aid , he is almost taken by the blackshirts during one such chase but for the help he recieves from a group of friends , one of whom he later finds out is a symapthiser for the blackshirts and betrays them all.
The story then is a chase after an other , nerve tingling at times , hoary at times , the streets are all dead , filled with dead , deacy is long done , all that remains now is the outershell , the fast falling away skin and the yellowing bones. One adventure after the other, one risk after the other and finally Hoke triumphs and all the blackshirts are killed , either by the disease or by Hoke and friends' guns.
The Pros and Cons :-
The few lines regarding the books on its cover may not persuade you to buy it , you may actually think that "its just another Worldwar story" , may be you are right too ... for the book has its fair share of anti Nazi sentiments . I ended up with this book as this was a part of an edition that had 2 books in one ,and also because I wanted to read something different , I was fed up of reading Robert Ludlum , John Grisham and Singhania incessantly for months together.
Kudos to Mr Herbert for perfecting a Ghost town of London , complete with piles of human debris and piles and piles out it too. It requires a strong sense of imagination , also a strong sense of determination not to throw up , if you happen to have the former.
The humane aspect shows up with the emotional upheaval that each charecter feels , the sorrow that still lurks around even after witnessing a large scale destruction , the anger and the pity that Hoke feels when the German dies , Hoke's unrelenting task of collecting the bodies collecting them at the stadium to give them a mass burial.
The let down is also the strength of the book , the pace makes it interesting , excessive drama in the pace though makes it like a Hollywood cliche script.
Overall , a book that makes good reading , if you want to pick up a horror / post war fiction , this is a sure bet ... atleast better than Stephen King's Tommyknockers.