Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry.

Title/Author: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry.

Genre: Horror/Speculative Fiction.

Publisher: Philomel Books.

Source: BEA.

Favorite character: Joe Ledger, the main protagonist. Church the uber military leader in charge of super, secret organization DMS. Toys, the right hand man to the bad guy.

Favorite quote: “Anytime something is too easy, it isn’t.” Joe Ledger.

All in all: Intricate and exciting.

Synopsis: When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills... and there's nothing wrong with Joe Ledger's skills.  And that's both a good, and a bad thing.  It's good because he's a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can't handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It's bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.... ~From Amazon.com.

What I didn’t like: It’s not so much I didn’t like it, I’m just a person who questions everything and I wondered how certain people managed to survive at the end.

What I liked: This was the first book that I have read that used first person and third person (that I can remember anyway) and it broke up the novel in a unique way.  This style drew me into Joe’s mind and let me get to know him yet kept me at arm’s length with the bad guys.  Almost like I was next to Joe but was watching the other parts in a movie theater.  I loved Maberry's descriptions, the way he kept me at the edge of my seat and the pacing of the story. Each scene moves the action along and everything fell into place.

I liked Joe Ledger right away because of his humor, sarcasm and clever banter.  This part of Joe's personality was apparent right away due to the initial interview between him and Mr. Church. (I also learned that Joe would think I was evil because I prefer Vanilla Wafers over Oreos.) I kept thinking, “Should I really be giggling when reading a zombie novel?”  So I learned fairly early that Joe is funny, but then I learned other traits throughout the novel.  He is trustworthy, dependable and has a conscience, although he sometimes has to put it aside in order to keep the public at large safe.  Joe worked for me as a semi reluctant hero.  He is confident and knows his strengths without being fearless because he knows he could die at any moment.  He also acknowledges his darkness. He talks of the Mark of Cain (marked with the awareness of the beast that lives in all of us) and sometimes struggles with keeping all the pieces of his personality separate. The Warrior vs. the Man.

In this novel, the strains of the zombie infection are likened to strains of the flu and are developed by religious militant terrorists backed by a greedy entrepeneur who owns several pharmaceutical companies. So, theoretically the Americans (the targets of the strain) wouldn’t be able to keep up with the “disease.” One of the characters explained the way the zombie virus worked. It was unpretentious, yet complicated enough. Although I didn’t fully comprehend how the virus worked I was able to believe that it did work. 

This was by far not a typical girlie novel; there were lots of descriptions about guns and weapons, so if you’re not into that you may not appreciate the level of detail Maberry put into this story.  I loved the fight scenes though and I couldn’t help but feel that Joe Ledger and his team could probably teach Buffy a thing or two. Sad but true. For those of you who absolutely need romance in all your stories, there is some here between Joe and Grace, another agent. It was realistic but didn't distract from the story.

Joe’s special ops team (Top, Bunny, Skip and Ollie) were sometimes hard for me to keep straight, I had to keep checking back to see who was who, but by the end of the novel I had it. I loved the camaraderie between them and the humor.  The potential threat of mistrust among them was intriguing.

**SPOILER ALERT: Not many books make me cry, but there was one scene that did. It was when the First Lady’s secret service bodyguard was dying and all he cared about was if she was okay or not. A scene like this could easily have been cliche, but it was touching. We see this happen through the eyes of Joe and it also serves to bring his own humanity and tenderness to the surface. :END SPOILER ALERT**.

This is probably not a book I would have normally picked up. However, I took a workshop with Jonathan Maberry at a conference and I liked what he had to say about his writing process enough that I was curious about his work. I’m glad I tried Patient Zero and I look forward to more of Maberry’s books.

5 out of 5 stars.


Jenny said...

Wow, this one is completely knew to me and sounds fantastic. I have his Rot & Ruin book on my list but haven't gotten to it yet. I'm usually not a big zombie fan, but it sounds like the story is strong and Joe is a solid hero so maybe I need to get over that and read this! Thanks for the review!

Unknown said...

I had not heard of this book before, but it sounds awesome! Thanks so much for the review hon! =D

Smash Attack Ash said...

Another Maberry book I need to read!!! I really enjoyed your thoughts and I hope I get to read it. ;)

Karen said...

Teach Buffy?? *gasp* LOL

My husband really liked this one and has read the sequel. We also have Rot & Ruin in the TBR pile.

Midnyte Reader said...

I actually just saw an ep of Buffy and was thinking that I may have to re-think that comment.

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