Patient Zero – Book Review
Zombies are the latest bio-weapon in Jonathan Maberry’s potboiler of a novel . . .
by Jonathan Maberry, St. Martin’s Griffin
In this 2009 novel an Islamist terrorist group in cahoots with a huge pharmaceutical multinational (can you think of anyone more evil?!) use infected zombies as a bio-weapon to attack the US of A.
The book’s hero is Joe Ledger, “Baltimore Police Department detective, ex-army, martial arts expert, a man who has killed often” according to the jacket blurb.
Ledger may be the consummate professional, but during the book’s action climax he still makes the movie cliché mistake of dropping his gun on the floor during a hostage situation. (Police officers are expressly trained NOT to relinquish their firearms in hostage situations because then they lose whatever control they had over the situation in the first place.)
Then again, one suspect that author Maberry probably has a movie adaptation in mind and, let’s be honest, Patient Zero has all the ingredients for a brainless Hollywood actioner, the sort of thing you’d watch on the telly on a Friday evening along with some beer and crisps so as to forget the crappy week at the office – that is, if you have a job in this depressed economy.
One critic has it more than right when he calls it “Michael Crichton meets Night of the Living Dead” as the book has a top secret elite covert team battling hordes of infected zombies called “walkers”. Or it will if they ditch the hero’s best buddy, an annoying psychobabble spouting shrink – a somewhat ill-advised attempt by the author to imbue his characters with more psychological depth that just results in the book’s dullest moments.
Needless to say the characters are as one-dimensional and flat as any character found in a Michael Crichton novel but, hey, this is a zombie novel so we weren’t expecting Dostoyevsky, were we?
Fast-paced and slickly written it is about as deep as one would expect of a story in which international terrorists use zombies as a bio-weapon . . .