Blood Crazy by Simon Clark
It’s Saturday. Going shopping? For a meal? To the movies? Everything nice and normal, right?
By Sunday, civilization is in ruins. Adults have become murderously insane – literally. They’re infected with a crazed uncontrollable urge to kill the young. Including their own children.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS…
Time again to raid my bookshelves and dig out another classic novel that I haven’t touched for many years.
Blood Crazy by Simon Clark was originally published back in 1995 and as soon as I started reading it I knew it was something that was going to stay with me for a long time. Much like my fascination with zombies, I am both disturbed yet drawn to fiction that covers the end of the world.
When we are first introduced to seventeen year old Nick Aten he is a bit of a slacker. He lives in a quiet suburb of Doncaster and having left school with no qualifications, he is really only interested in drinking beer, having a good time and getting into fights with his life-long nemesis, Tug Slater.
With a flick of a mental switch, overnight everything changes. Every human over the age of 20 develops a psychopathic urge to kill anyone under 20, including their own offspring. Nick is forced to grow up quickly as he is thrust into a battle for survival.
Nick eventually finds himself part of a community of survivors hidden deep in the remote English countryside. Initially there is a sense of order and hope that the worst is over but it’s not long before the rot starts to set in. The way the kids treat one another is as bad, and in some ways worse, than anything that the adults do. In the same vein as Lord of the Flies, Blood Crazy explores the dynamic of the survivors group and the power struggles that erupt within.
Through Nick’s travels we also get insight into the other communities of survivors. I loved that as time passes the groups start to develop their own mythologies and traditions to explain away the apocalypse that has occurred.
Though Nick is the main character my personal favorite was Tug Slater. He is a natural born survivor. Like a bad penny, he keeps turning up just to make Nick’s life that little bit more unpleasant. He is a tattooed thug who delights in making everyone else’s life miserable. Slater is just plain nasty. Can you think of anything worse? The human race appears to be coming to an end and you have to go through it all with someone who really hates your guts and would be happy to see you dead.
The novel has a wonderfully dark tone. From the first page Clark is dropping subtle hints that something terrible is about to happen. There is a palpable sense of menace and the suggestion of horror just beneath the surface of normal everyday events makes this novel difficult to put down. Parents attacking and killing their own children makes this seem a very personal and intimate apocalypse. I could have easily read the entire thing in one sitting but I was keen to eek it out and enjoy the experience.
I’ll be honest and admit that even after all these years Blood Crazy is still one of my favorite books. I find it compelling from beginning to end. Clark’s story is action packed, horrific and thrilling but it also has so much more to offer. It raises some thought provoking questions about religion, the human condition and the nature of self. When the big reveal finally happens, and the reader gets an explanation about what caused the change in all adults, it is both deceptively simple but hugely complex all at once. I’m always impressed with fiction that manages to make me think and question my world view.
Clark is a fantastic author and he really knows how to write the end of the world. He touches upon similar apocalyptic ground in the equally epic King Blood and Night of the Triffids, which I have a sneaking suspicion I will be re-reading again soon. If you are a fan of apocalyptic fiction and you have never read any of his books before I strongly advise you to seek them out. I am sure you will not be disappointed. Oh and if Simon Clark ever reads this – please write a sequel to Blood Crazy.