24 April, 2012

(Audiobook) Review - Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Jonathan Maberry has made a name for himself writing horror, but more specifically writing about zombies. Going into Patient Zero [US] [UK] [Kindle], I knew it would contain zombies, but it could probably fit just as well under the label of "covert ops" or some such (not that this fantasy nerd knows anything past dragons and magic). It technically contains a form of "zombie," but it really isn't a zombie book.

The real threat in this book is terrorism. Joe Ledger, the series' eponymous hero and Baltimore detective, is recruited by a special, super secret task force, the Department of Military Sciences (DMS). The DMS is charged with taking out a group of terrorists with a bio-weapon that turns people essentially into zombies.

Maberry does a great job getting you right into Patient Zero. Ledger's right in the middle of the action, gets recruited, gets tested to see if he can cut it. I was sucked in fast, but it also got old fast for me.

I love a good zombie book as much as the next guy, but as I mentioned above, this wasn't really a zombie book and I found myself getting a bit bored. I really think it was me more than anything the author did, these types of books just aren't my cup-o-tea. I don't mind watching these types of movies, but I like reading more about the supernatural than espionage, etc, and there really wasn't a whole lot of supernatural going on here.

And maybe that's kudos to the author. He did a great job explaining the plague/zombie-making disease and maybe too good because it all made sense and it was more like preventing the spread of the mumps.

But, while I admit that these types of books aren't my favorite, I also had a hard time with the main character, Mr. Ledger. He's a tough-guy, a meat-head so to speak (so we probably wouldn't hang out anyway), but he grated on me after awhile. It's almost like he's constantly pissed, but that's not quite it. He's not quite griping either, but he's got this attitude quite frequently expressed such as "you're doing it all wrong."

I'll admit that my disappointment could also be from the impression given by the narrator who was good but intense at times.

While Joe Ledger plays a large role in Patient Zero, he maybe only takes up a little over 50% of the book. The rest is in Afghanistan with the terrorists and specifically Sebastian Gault, a billionaire who specializes in pharmaceuticals. While considered a philanthropist by the world, he really takes advantage of ailing countries rather than really helping them, so of course something like this is right for him.

The Afghanistan parts are where most of the twists and turns take place, but I still can't say I loved it all that much. I think I'm over the terrorists as the "bad guys" and while it really was the only thing that worked for the story (who else could pull off bio-weapons?) I'm done with them just like I'm done with the Germans and Russians (as bad guys not as characters).

I think a lot of people will enjoy this much more than I did and I can't say I didn't like it either, I just didn't love it. The twists and turns were great and I really didn't expect the ending where he could have gone the way of I Am Legend, but didn't. 

Recommended, but not necessarily as a zombie novel.

3 out of 5 Stars (Liked it)

Download a free Joe Ledger short story here.