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Patient Zero
Jonathan Maberry
Narrated by Ray Porter, unabridged
Blackstone Audio, 15 hours

Patient Zero
Jonathan Maberry
Jonathan Maberry is the multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Ghost Road Blues, first of a trilogy of thrillers with a supernatural bite. He is a professional writer and writing teacher and since 1979 has sold more than 1100 articles, seventeen nonfiction books, six novels, as well as short stories, poetry, song lyrics, video scripts, and two plays.

Jonathan Maberry Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gil T. Wilson

I love zombies. Whether it's a zombie movie, a zombie TV series or zombie books; as long as it has zombies, I love it. Zombies have a way about them that discourages romantic subplots in a novel. Unlike vampires, teenage girls can't get all gushy over zombies and want to marry them. They are monsters, flesh-eating monsters and nothing can stop them, except for a head shot. There is just no way to really romanticize a zombie; so the horror of them trying to hunt you down and the survival instincts used to fight them off are straightforward and simple -- kill or die.

I thought there wasn't anything else a story could do with zombies that hadn't already been done.  There are fast zombies and slow zombies, zombies brought from the grave by Haitian voodoo priests, zombie-inducing bacteria from a space probe, and variations on those themes with other methods of reanimating the corpses.  And nearly all zombie apocalypse stories tell of survivors and how they survive while searching for a cure and/or why zombies are taking over their world.  But this book actually does do something new in that it begins by telling how and why zombies can be made and then what to do to prevent them.  Picture Night of the Living Dead, Rambo and James Bond in a mashup and you've got this non-stop action packed horror/thriller where a zombie apocalypse is looming over the horizon.

It seems that since 9/11 terrorists have been trying their best to attack the free world, but their Jihad has just faded into the Afghan mountains.   But now, known terrorist El Mujahid is being funded to create a virus/parasite that turns people into the walking dead.  Joe Ledger is recruited from the Baltimore Police to become a special ops agent in a secret branch of the government. Ledger kicks butt like no other, and he does it with class.  Just roll James Bond, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, and Jean Claude Van-Damme into one and the outcome still couldn't stand up against Joe Ledger -- he is just that cool and tough.  Plus he has the same smart mouth that Bruce Willis' tough characters all seem to use so well.

Ledger's assignment is to select a new team to replace two other teams that were taken by surprise when bodies in a hospital became reanimated from the bite of the original terrorist.  The teams' hesitation in shooting result in disaster as women, children, doctors and nurses all begin eating each other and attacking.  Ledger is hired because of his lack of hesitation and ability to assess any situation at the speed of light. 

Pulling the best of the best to form Echo Team, Ledger becomes their leader and they raid a warehouse where more "walkers" are suspected to be hiding, ready to be unleashed on the population.  Ledger and his team arrive to find scientists conducting research on the zombies/walkers.  The scientists are releasing the walkers on several captured children when Echo Team explodes on the scene, taking out all the walkers and most of the scientists.  They do manage to save most of the children, although the kids will need some serious therapy to cope with their ordeal.

Ledger's team soon learns that a major final attack of the zombie-creating virus is planned and must act fast to not only stop the zombies but to find out where and when the attack will occur.  This book is solid action from the first word spoken to the last, and even the end of the book leaves you with your adrenaline pumping, ready for more action. As this is the first of a planned trilogy, there's sure to be plenty more action in store. Jonathan Maberry has created the perfect action zombie story with the perfect action hero to lead the fight.

The real plus is listening to this production and hearing the seemingly unlimited voice talent of Ray Porter.  His vocal gymnastics leads you down dark hallways filled with horror and then expresses the action with explosive excitement.  Porter's vocal mastery doesn't stop there, however.  He is also able to vocalize the many characters by giving them accents based not only on their nationality, but also on their motives and psyche. His presentation of Joe Ledger is a vocal characterization par excellence.

Copyright © 2011 Gil T. Wilson

Gil T. has spent a quarter of a century working in radio and has lots of spare time on his hands and reading or listening to books takes up all that time. Check out his blog to find out what he's up to at any given moment.

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