Review: Patient Zero

Posted: September 11, 2009 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Jonathan Maberry, Horror

There is a topic in novels that has become sacred to us here at Elitist Book Reviews. If you screw it up, we will hate you forever. If you do it well, we may send you cookies… or at the very least worship you. The topic?

Zombies, baby. Zombies.

The easiest way for us to describe PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry (Amazon) is to say that it is Rainbow Six: Zombies. Cut out the technical mumbo-jumbo that Tom Clancy felt he needed to put in RAINBOW SIX (Amazon), add more zombie action, and you get PATIENT ZERO. Zombie novels don’t get much better than this. Take a half-hour break right now, and go to your bookstore and pick up this novel. And get a bag or two of popcorn while you are at it.

Joe Ledger, the main character of PATIENT ZERO, is completely full of awesome. How so, you inquire? He is the equal parts Ash (Amazon), MacGyver (Amazon), and Bruce Lee (Amazon) … though we picture him looking like a young Ash (Bruce Campbell), regardless of the book description. Why not? We are elite, so we can do what we want! Anyways, back to Joe. He is recruited to be part of an anti-terrorism (heavy on the terror… remember, zombies) group sanctioned by the President of the USA. It is an All-Star Team of scientists and military specialists whose only purpose is to take care of the scary by any means necessary.

We are very happy with PATIENT ZERO. Thrilled, more like it. Giddy, if we are being revealing about ourselves.

This novel is 28 DAYS LATER (Amazon) with military squads blowing up, shooting, stabbing, and snapping the necks of mobs of zombies. Uh huh. Awesome. Maberry adds convincing science (to us, though lets face it, we aren’t science gurus here. Book review Gods, yes. Scientists, no.) that shows how terrorists have built a virus that turns people into zombies, or “walkers” as they call them. The thing with zombie novels/stories, is that you can’t take them too seriously. The characters and relationships here are built to fulfill roles that may feel cliche to the average reader. Guess what? It’s a zombie novel! Zombie novels have a free pass to use cliches (we say so, so therefore it is fact)! There is a sarcastic brand of humor throughout the novel (which fits perfectly) to go along with the insane, over-the-top, awesome violence. Yes, this book drips testosterone… and some zombie brains. You know what makes this book even better? The villains aren’t idiots. In fact, some of them are considered the most brilliant people on the planet. And they are zealots, which makes them even more dangerous while simultaneously giving them a weakness that the heroes can realistically overcome.

We are very happy with PATIENT ZERO. Thrilled, more like it. Giddy, if we are being revealing about ourselves. It has been a while since we have had so much fun reading a novel (Steve couldn’t stop giggling his enjoyment). There is SO MUCH action here–refreshingly with characters who are actually affected by the horrors they are facing (an astounding concept, no?)–that you really have no choice but to love it. Oh, and did we mention that the writing style lends perfectly to this novel?

Jonathan Maberry, we salute you, and we hope for more Joe Ledger soon.

  • Recommended Age: 17+
  • Language: Uh, yeah. Did you read our three-word summary up top? Rainbow Six: Zombies. Of course there is language. And lots of "hooah."
  • Violence: Oh yes, and it seems to be non-stop. The pace of this novel is 1,000 mph. All. The. Time.
  • Sex: Yes, but very little. Focus people, this novel is about blowing up zombies. Weeeeeee!

Jonathan Maberry has made it onto our very short-list of favorite horror authors. This means you should be reading him. This means you should be visiting his website. Go thank him for writing one of the funnest novels of the year.

Steve’s Note: I love zombies. They can be cheesy or scary; it doesn’t matter to me. I just love them. My good friend, Dan Wells–who’s terrific book we reviewed a while back (EBR Review) — often has discussions with me about zombies, and how we could make them more fun to read. He once mentioned to me that his agent, Sara Crowe, also represented Jonathan Maberry and his new zombie novel PATIENT ZERO. I respect Dan’s work a lot, so therefore I respect Sara Crowe’s taste in clients a lot. I decided to check it out. After reading so many terrible novels lately, PATIENT ZERO was a welcome relief, the most fun I have had reading in ages, and one of my favorite novels of the year. In my opinion, all people should be required to love zombies. With this being said, all people should be required to read Maberry’s PATIENT ZERO.


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