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Rats, Rabies & Radiation!
Domain - James Herbert
Member Name: wendybull
Domain - James Herbert
Advantages: Lots of excellent descriptions and great characters.
Disadvantages: It's the last one!
Domain is the third in the series from Herbert, based on the mutant, giant killer rats. In my opinion it is the best of the three and can be enjoyed as a standalone book or if read in order as a trilogy it is even better.
London and the surrounding areas are hit with five nuclear bombs. The warning sirens are very late to wail and very few have time to escape to shelters. Hundreds flee into underground railway stations to avoid the blasts and the horrific radioactive fall out that will follow. Millions are simply blown to bits or crushed and mutilated from collapsing buildings.
Culver was on his way to the bank when the sirens began their frightening alarm, and whilst running to find appropriate shelter, he bumps into Dealey, a man who has been blinded by the flash of the bomb but who knows of a government shelter that will protect them if they can reach it.
Down into the tunnels of the underground station they go, watching countless atrocities along the way. But just before they find the secret door, located in the wall of the train tunnel, they also find the mutant rats, feeding off the people who had fled down there before.
Well this is just the best of the trilogy in terms of gore and bloody description. Herbert really does go to town and with a topic like a nuclear blast to work with, he does not hold back. The reader will be deluged with full on descriptions of radiation sickness and the effects of the blast. Not to mention the injuries caused by rabid dogs and falling buildings. Add on the fatalities and horrific mutilations caused by the killer rats themselves and you have a pretty good horror book on your hands.
I have bemoaned the fact in previous write-ups about this trilogy, that Herbert did not include more of previous characters in the follow-ups, but this one held so much more character description that I was completely satisfied with the lack of inclusions in this book. Culver and Dealey are our main male characters and coupled with Kate, the vulnerable yet courageous female lead, and you have a great group to work out from.
Again this book does feel slightly dated, but being written over 20 years ago it is hardly surprising. It totally captivated me though. I loved reading about the simple day to day life that the group had to lead once they made it inside the shelter. I was intrigued by the stocks they had in there with regard to food and water, lighting and medicines. It seems boring written down like this, but Herbert has such a good writing style that you find yourself almost imagining what you would have in the shelter with you if the government had told you to prepare.
Again, he brings in lots of other characters that have a fairly in depth history behind them, panned out within the story. None of these are central to the plot but allow you to see the story unfold from lots of different viewpoints. For instance you hear about the man who built the expensive shelter in his garden, and how things turned out for him, alone with just a cat for company. Then there are the survivors of the blast, who were unable to get inside and under enough cover to avoid the radiation. Their brief life history is told whilst a longer death description is given. The hundreds of people who managed to find shelter, either in tunnels or underground cinemas for example, their stories are played out in surviving each other as well as the conditions.
And then of course you have the rats. They are a huge force to be reckoned with and feature heavily in the gore factor, but somehow they donít seem to be as big a part as in the previous two books. In The Rats and Lair, the vermin were the central bad guys and responsible for all carnage. In Domain, we also have to deal with the nuclear bombs, radiation, disease, evil human nature in the face of adversity and then it seems the rats come along and top it all off. For me this was a balance of brilliance. Whilst I enjoyed the first two books, this raised the bar that little bit more and you could feel the main characters total exasperation, fear and frustration through their actions and words.
If you like good solid descriptions of all things gross then this is a good book for you, but if you have a weaker stomach I would avoid the trilogy all together. But it is definitely a huge five stars from me.