The Final War #3
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Written by David Moody
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Maybe it’s simply due to having already read One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning and All Roads End Here, the previous two novels in David Moody‘s The Final War trilogy; or maybe it’s because I’ve gotten used to the raw carnage of his post-apocalyptic horror world; or maybe it has to do with Moody’s unique – yet still quite natural – format of storytelling in which each novel has a completely different feel; whatever the reason may be, whatever special circumstances set the third and final novel apart from its predecessors, there is no doubt that I absolutely loved Chokehold.
While the first novel felt intimate in its singular setting of a small island retreat center, and the second novel played out on a much grander, citywide scale, Chokehold creates a whole new atmosphere of dread, paranoia, and oppression. Set in the wasteland that was once England — after multiple nuclear warheads wiped out much of the country — all of the major surviving players — whether Hater or Unchanged — are making their final moves, readying themselves for the last battle of this devastating and horrific war. But not all Haters see eye to eye, and likewise, neither do all Unchanged.
I don’t know much about war. Most of what I do know comes from watching movies or television shows; but Chokehold — and I mean the book as a whole — feels like a war, both in preparation and in action. Factions of Haters vie for control and maneuver themselves into optimal positions – slaughtering those in their way — to take charge in hopes of wiping out the Unchanged once and for all. The Unchanged, led mostly by former military personnel, use whatever means necessary to take down their enemy — even sacrificing their own for the sake of the many in hopes of wiping out the Haters once and for all. Despite, however, all of the political intrigue and intense in-fighting, there are always small glimpses of hope within the novel. These moments — albeit rare as they are — typically come from one character: Matt Dunne.
After reading the first two novels, I wasn’t even sure I liked Matt all that much, particularly due to his “save myself, screw everyone else” attitude; however, I think this is what makes Moody’s writing so good. He writes Matt in a completely nuanced way. Matt is not a static character; his changes are more like shifts in attitude and momentum. As much as he wants to protect himself, he can’t help but do “the right thing” and save others, whether they want his help or not. Matt is certainly the driving force of these novels, and his arc throughout all three books — Chokehold in particular — is one of the finest examples of a flawed character that you can’t help but root for.
Matt, however, isn’t the only character I was surprised by while reading Chokehold. I spent most of the book absolutely hating the Haters, but there are some who reveal a greater truth about human nature in general: that not all aspects of life are bad. That, in fact, people can do amazing, genuine, and unexpected things for strangers.
Chokehold is just as the name suggests: a story that viciously grabs ahold of you and will not let go, no matter how much you struggle. It is cutthroat, relentless, and — trust me when I say this — shockingly inspiring.