I’ve long been a follower of David Moody, ever since his novel Hater took my eye in a London bookstore. I thoroughly enjoyed Hater and it’s sequels and then started devouring his earlier acclaimed “Autumn” collection, the cult zombie themed series that needs no introduction.
I had no hesitation in picking up Trust which places itself nicely in the horror/sci-fi genre. Trust centers on the effects on a small UK town of the arrival of alien visitors from the stars. The visitors appear entirely peaceful and make contact to say that they have a ship damaged beyond repair and are seeking refuge on Earth until they can leave. The promise of shared advanced technology and their absolute co-operation with humanity appears to be the perfect result.
Our central character is Tom Winter, an ex big city worker, burnt out from the rat race and now settled in the small sleepy country town of Thatcham along with his brother and a small group of friends. As the visiting aliens slowly begin to integrate with humans, Tom gains the feeling that all is not as it seems and gradually begins to suspect that the new visitors have more sinister intentions than they say.
There’s obviously a similarity here to the themes explored in the TV series “V”, however that is essentially where the similarity ends with Trust. Anyone expecting perfect and sexy looking Lizards in human disguise will be disappointed, particularly if they are looking for that genre type thrill ride.
Moody instead takes a more introspective look at the effects on a small town and the world changing implications first contact with an alien species might have for ordinary people. He cleverly centers most of the story around Tom, his girlfriend and brother. A recurrent theme in Moody’s work is the effect of extraordinary events happening to ordinary people. There are no hero’s nor ex-special forces marines with square jaws around here, and the novel is all the better for it.
Moody manages to invoke a persistent creepiness throughout the early stages, from the opening scenes of the grandiose arrival of the aliens through to the climax and keeps the plot moving at an at times slow, yet engaging pace. The story contains a rather unnerving likeness to the feelings of dread I experienced when watching the BBC cult show “the Tripods” which explored similar themes of an alien race here to colonize and enslave humans.
I won’t give away plot spoilers, but Trust is an excellent read and Moody handles the gradual unravelling of Tom’s world through paranoia in a thoughtful and deft way as his distrust of the new visitors begins to isolate him against his friends and loved ones and Moody offers enough beef to the central characters to keep the reader caring. Moody’s prose is at times a little nostalgic and steeped in small town UK culture which might possibly alienate some non-British readers with the dialogue, but it has enough of the believeability factor to keep the reader engaged and curious.
The one caveat I would mention with Trust, although it is not something I personally had difficulty with, is the pace of the story. Trust is a thoughtful novel, it’s not your “Independence day” type smash up and the novel slowly and surely builds up to it’s climax. The action does come, but you have to be prepared to invest your time and patience in the characterization and spirit of the story. The pay off at the last quarter is well worth the wait!
Overall, a quality read from an author at the top of his game in the world of creepy, claustrophobic, apocalyptic fiction.