on April 28, 2009
I have not read a book that genuinely spooked me in quite some time! Am I jaded? No. I am just very advanced in my threshhold for terror. (Okay, I'm jaded) This book was like watching a B-horror flick with a million cheap shots to make you jump in your seat. It was great! I am female, and lest I betray my gender in a stereotype, I do not read military action novels. But this book has an action/military/horror/mystery theme that works beautifully. Joe Ledger is my new hero; he can do it all.
So, why not 5 stars? The action got a bit repetitive and ho-hum in parts. I feel like the book could have been condensed by about 50 pages. But definitely read this book! It is pure enjoyment from start to finish.
Congratulations, Jonathan Maberry. You have managed to combine two of my biggest fears - the fear of unchecked biological warfare and the fear that my brains will be sucked out by zombies.
Hardened, world weary Detective Joe Ledger has seen it all in the course of his job. He knows the very worst that human beings can do to each other. Then he's not-so-willingly introduced to the Department of Military Sciences (DMS) and its mysterious, powerful leader, Mr. Church, and he finally learns that he hasn't scratched the surface of the worst that people can do. Turns out that religious fanaticism and hatred of the United States have met up with big-money corporate interests, and *voila* the Sword of the Faithful is born - zombie weapons unleashed by terrorists upon the U.S. to purge the world of infidels.
Ledger is all man. He's tough. He has an eye for the ladies and a deep abiding love for his country. He knows weapons and military strategy, and he's a natural born leader. He's chilled to the bone by this new, hellish weapon, but he and his team push forward to try to save the country before this plague spreads to the world.
If you like explosions, fighting, tough-guy talk and scary, brain-munching zombies, you'll love this book. I was riveted from page 1, and I raced to get to the last word. The zombies are strong and hungry. The good guys are the best, and the bad guys are the worst. There is nail-biting action at every turn, and a surprising amount of humor thrown in. This is one of the best zombie novels I've read in a very long time.
Bring on the sequel! I can't wait to see what Ledger gets himself into the next time.
on January 13, 2013
I once heard a movie critic say of one of the Jurassic Park movies that you if you go to a movie like that to get complex characters and deep, philosophical discussions on the nature of God, you're going for the wrong reasons and you are going to be disappointed. You go to see dinosaurs. Lots and lots of dinosaurs.
That's how I felt about this movie--excuse me, book. It was everything a thriller should be. The hero was a brick who could hold his own in just about any fight, but had enough of a brain to wonder occasionally about what all the killing was doing to his psyche. The black hat had understandable motives for trying to unleash a zombie plague and had his own trials to overcome. There was a bit of a love interest. And there were zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. The pacing was terrific, the bon mots made me smile and the whole thing was so visual that it was easy to see how this would make a great movie. Listening to it as an audio book performed by Ray Porter was the perfect way to experience this adventure. I've started to get used to the way many of the best audiobook performers can switch accents seamlessly, but Porter really amazed me when he nailed the voice for the protagonists' best friend, who is described in the book as sounding like "a young Raul Julia." An all-around fun listen that will not disappoint anyone looking to be entertained.
on October 27, 2010
I'm a big fan of zombies and action. The reviews I read made me thing this book was written for me. The start was good; gun-nut/tactical porn that would make anyone whose played a Rainbow 6 game excited. As it wore on, however, I liked it less and less. Paper-thin characters who are so extreme I was left shaking my head. The bad guys are evil geniuses who put together a cutting-edge medical lab in an Afghanistan cave. The woman is so beautiful she can stop traffic with just her eyes AND she's a super genius who can manufacture zombies. Her counterpart on the other side is gorgeous AND a weapons expert. And these are just the henchwomen.
Skip it. You can find something better to do with your time.
on December 23, 2012
Patient Zero is a lightning paced biotech thriller introducing Joe Ledger (a kick-ass protag). Ledger is a detective from Baltimore who gets recruited by the Government to lead the DMS (Department of Military Sciences), a rapid response task force created to take care of problems too tough for Homeland Security. The DMS has to stop a terrorist group from releasing a bioweapon that turns people into Zombies. If released, this bioweapon could destroy civilization as we know it.
A well-crafted story. Great writing, tons of action with complex and authentic characters; and, oh yeah, zombies. What else could I ask for? LOVED IT!!! Need more...
on May 18, 2012
I've read a fair amount of zombie books and short stories and admit that it's often cherry picking amongst a sea of fan fiction quality material, and am more than willing to take the good with the bad and look past a few warts in a given read. So I was hopeful that I had some good, if light, train reading material when I cracked open this book.
Unfortunately I had a hard time getting past some of the writing. Now, I have to say, the premise was okay and there was a metric ton of action, however the characterization was just horribly flat and one note. For example, the main character is given hero-worship treatment by the author and comes off as more of a comic book character than anything else. The bad guys are also given a single dimension work up and end up as stock entries. This sort of lack of characterization follows throughout the whole of the book and, when paired with a more dispassionate and tactical narrative in the action sequences, ends up delivering, for me anyway, a very heavy handed story that never really drew me in or felt engaging.
I finished Patient Zero on the strength of how poorly written and clichéd it was, just to see if it ended as badly as it had set out. In this regard it did not disappoint. Now, your mileage may vary, and you may find this a perfectly acceptable book to keep you busy at the airport or on the beach, I just wanted to toss my experience out there for those who look for a little more depth and characterization in their zombie thrill rides.
on December 4, 2015
I really don't want to spend a lot of time on this review - but you - the future reader - deserve to know that it's ok to pass on this book.
The initial pages of this book felt promising. The wise crack jokes thrown to the reader by our hero were actually funny. I found myself smiling, thinking that maybe this is a nice alternative to Jack Reacher (who I enjoy for his brains, muscle, but also great sense of humor). I thought and said to my wife 'I think this book is going to be really good.'
I let the story progress to introduce all of the major characters. So far, mostly good. There was certainly some hyperbole in each character, but I figured that was the flavor of this novel. Mostly, I felt entertained and not distracted.
After Joe Ledger, our hero, took over his team of misfit military operators, things took a turn for the worst (about as badly as a zombie apocalypse).
There are so many random problems in this book that I feel like I have to bullet point them for you. The results of these bullets are what contributed to majorly distracting me from the story.
1. Logic/realism problems: (okay. It's a zombie book. Realism shouldn't be an issue. But there's realism in the zombie bio mythology and then there's realism with everyday normal things.) At one point - I lost count of how many days some of the characters had been awake, successfully rolling through strenuous mission after mission, long detailed conversations, I-was-going-to-sleep-but-you-knocked-on-my-door romantic interludes, etc. Don't these characters have true limits? (Yes the author addresses this in conversations, but it's never remedied by actual sleep; characters' sense of justice always gives them just enough energy to keep going)
2. Dialogue that had me going, whaaaat?: this one was the most distracting. Characters suddenly making stupid wise cracks immediately following a very serious and sobering incident. And not the typical 'I have to lighten the mood' cracks. More like 'I forgot what just happened' cracks. Other times characters would say things extremely out of character. This one had me double checking who said something. Did I, the reader, have a mental problem or were these characters not being true to themselves? Later in the book, my initial feelings of good jokes on early pages were stomped out by jokes that weren't funny at all. These later jokes were followed by descriptions of characters laughing as if to tell the reader to laugh in case you hadn't on your own. Nope. Still not funny. And again, these jokes were in inappropriate places.
3. Characters' knowledge: somehow a number of military types - Army Ranger, Navy soldier, our hero cop/military guy and so on - are super good at thinking through a massive geopolitical problem and determining the exact motives and means for someone to carry out clandestine global terrorism on a hyper complex scale. I'm prior military, and I can tell you right now that an army ranger is a great soldier, but that doesn't make them any wiser on geopolitical/terror issues than the next guy. They are well trained infantry. As these characters went into long self discovery explanations into their thought processes, already 'in-the-know' characters would egg them on to continue to show us readers how incredibly smart and illuminating they were. Those parts almost had me gagging.
4. Repeat situations, repeat descriptions: I'm pretty sure I counted 3 times that our good-guy female character was described by the hero as having red-rimmed eyes. Okay - they don't ever sleep. I did mention that. But come on. Give her some visine and give her another descriptor. As far as repeat situations, I got really tired of our character constantly commenting on how his new mysterious boss was super intimidating, even compared to our incredibly over-talented hero.
5. Over-talented hero: aside from knowing too much and understanding a great deal more than he should, our character is so tough from his martial arts history that only a massive zombie powered bad guy can attempt to overpower him. Not only was the character virtually invulnerable, but the other characters constantly told us how incredible he was. Jack Reacher novels are fun to read because his competence is revealed in the story. There aren't distracting moments in Reacher novels in which other characters discuss his amazing qualities. You discern that for yourself. Joe Ledger's compadres comment on it so often that I began to evaluate what we know about him, and how this super human status could have been attained. I couldn't really figure that out.
I wanted to like this book. The beginning pages tempted me to excitement. Later, I chose to finish it to get an ending and closure to the story. But man - I wish I hadn't started.
I don't like writing bad reviews. But this isn't worth the investment I made, and I don't want anyone else to needlessly suffer excitement followed by a whack of disappointment.
on June 10, 2010
This book is, honestly, God-awful. It is, both in character development and plotting, about as a cliche ridden and "Saturday morning serial" as anyone could hope to get, reading like one of those garish movie posters from the 1950's. The chest-thumping action hero, the "Jiminy Cricket" sidekick, the tough as nails military gun moll with a fragile past, the hard-bitten military men, the mysterious group leader who might as well be "Charlie" from "Charlie's Angels," the evil industrialist, the mad scientist - all here. And with all this you get zombies! The dialogue is abysmally stupid at points, the plotting uneven and improbable. And you still get zombies! (Insert as many exclamation points as you like here).
So, why two stars? Honestly, even though I disliked the book for the reasons I just mentioned, I did finish it. Admittedly, I was trapped on a plane with little else to do, but still. I do think there is an audience for it. This book is rather like one of those "Mack Bolan" serials of some time back with a dash of Travis McGee thrown in. With zombies! But it is very difficult for anyone to blend genres, in this case, serial cliffhanger potboiler with horror. So, at least the effort is appreciated. And there is nothing wrong, and I mean nothing, with enjoying this kind of serialized fun. It is what it is. With zombies!
One thing, however. While the author may be attempting to create a serial action hero in updated clothing in the form of "Joe Ledger," the book has brief spots that are genuinely frightening. While they may be few and far between, some snippets like the buildup to the raid on the "Crab Factory" warehouse do manage to create a credible sense of dread, and even fear. While that hardly justifies the list price, at times, some talent shines through. Is he John D. MacDonald yet? No, but the potential definitely exists.
If you like books like the old Mack Bolans or Doc Savage, or just enjoy old-fashioned cliffhangers, perils and the willing suspension if disbelief they require, I honestly think you would really like this book as a beach read or just for the romp of it. Serious readers of horror, though? I would avoid "Patient Zero." Trust me, you have seen it before. All of it. Even with zombies!
Recommended for the audience mentioned only. But for you guys, enjoy!
on June 6, 2014
I thought it had a slightly slow start and just about when I started to lose interest BAM!!! There were twists and turns I never saw coming (usually you can in most stories) and sat open mouthed a couple of times in surprise. I think I'm in love with Joe Ledger!
on March 25, 2014
As I rarely like to lend out books, I bought the e-book version to lend to friends and to re-read myself. This is one of the rare books I would hand to someone and urge them to read. It is just that good. If you are looking to buy it, congratulations, Mr. Maberry has a bunch more you will want to read as well.