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A horror novel by James Herbert - if World War Two had ended differently.....
48 - James Herbert
Member Name: julwhite
48 - James Herbert
Advantages: Intriguing storyline, well-written and engaging
Disadvantages: Some characters could have done with some more development
This review is of the military horror novel "'48" by James Herbert, first published in 1996.
Without giving away too much of the plot itself, the basic essence of the book is about a London where the allies didn't win the war. Instead the Germans were able to send V2 missiles to attack the city with a deadly disease, which only those with the AB blood group were able to survive.
Although most of the city's population had been killed as they were going about their usual life, some had survived but were even weakening. It was the leader of this group, Lord Hubble, that wanted to the blood from those with AB blood groups and use it himself replacing his own blood group, to make him better.
The book involves a number of characters who have the AB blood group, and who need to escape London, and those who aren't fortunate to have that blood group and need to stop them. I found the characters believable, although they were a little stereo-typical in places, a German, a member of the aristocracy and an American, to name just a few.
I haven't read any of James Herbert's books for several years, and remember in the past that he has written books such as the Rats and Lair, which are when giant rats attack people, and also some more haunting books such as The Magic Cottage. I didn't find that this book was similar to any others which I've read, and it was an interesting mix of horror, history, military and thriller.
There were a number of twists in the story, and not everyone in the book survived who I expected, and vice versa, so I didn't feel that it was too predictable. Although I thought that the characters were genuinely believable, I found that the "evil" characters in the story were a little under-described, there wasn't any real back-story provided regarding them, and why they were doing what they were doing.
In terms of the plot, some of the assumptions made for the basis of the story did seem a little too far-fetched, such as the way in which escapes occur in the underground, and how so many people managed to survive for as long as they did without being caught. But given that the book is about an alternative history of what happened during the Second World War, the author should be allowed such creativity in this area.
The descriptions of the bodies were a common theme, and how so many people had died as soon as the bombs were dropped, with their blood becoming hard and causing a near instant death. That meant that as the characters in the book explored London, they continually came across dead bodies, and the description of these was quite haunting. For me, this was well written, but I'd expect that given the author's strong reputation as a horror writer.
I found the book an easy read, and as usual my judge of a good book is whether or not I wanted to keep reading, which I did and finished it off over a couple of days. On that basis, I'd definitely recommend the book, as although I didn't find it as deep as some of his other works, it was readable and intriguing enough for me to want to continue and find out what happened to the characters.
I was able to borrow this book from my local library, but it's currently cheap to be able to source a copy. The book is available for 2.20 pounds including postage, or around 4 pounds for those that want a new copy from a third party seller. The retail price is 6.99 pounds, and if you want the book from Amazon themselves, it is currently available for 5.17 pounds. There is a Kindle version of the book which is a little expensively priced at 3.99 pounds. My copy of the book was 340 pages long and the book's ISBN is 978-0006476009.
Overall, I'd recommend this book, it isn't the most pleasant of reads, but it mixes history, politics and horror together well. The book maintained my interest and I felt engaged enough with the book to carry on reading to the end quite quickly. I felt some of the characters needed a little bit more analysis to understand why they thought as they did, but this was a minor flaw in my view. It's a shame that no film has been made of this, it would be a fascinating piece of cinema to go and see.
Summary: Recommended, and interesting ending