Audiobook Review: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

11 04 2011

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger, Book 1)

Read by Ray Porter

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Science Fiction Thriller

Quick Thought: Strong Action scenes, fun characters and dead on narration make this a truly excellent listening experience.

Grade A

So, for the past year or so, I have had a bunch of people recommend that I read something by this Jonathan Maberry fellow. When asked why, they would always tell me things to try and wet my whistle. First off, I was told by someone who works at my favorite indy bookstore that he was a local guy, from Bucks County. OK, that of course is a plus. Then they told me he wrote about zombies. Well, I always enjoyed zombie novels, mostly the zombie apocalypse type, but still flesh eaters are flesh eaters. I was told he wrote cross genre books, with a touch of horror, a bit of science fiction, some mystery and a dab of thriller, sort of like the literary version of Beck. These all seemed like good reasons. So, finally I gave into peer pressure and actively sought out the first book in the Joe Ledger series, called Patient Zero. My expectations were not terribly high, I was basically looking for a fun thriller, and potentially a new series to enjoy.

First off, I have to say that Patient Zero is, to borrow a tired cliché, non-stop action. I can honestly say that this book starts with action from nearly the first page, and rarely lets up for a moment. Now, for me, this is not necessarily a good thing. I am one who tends to enjoy the set up, more so than the action. In today’s thrillers, action scenes tend to be quite muddled. It sort of reminds me of those actions movies where the director has fallen in love with the extreme close-up, and never gives us that establishing shot that allows us to truly follow what is going on. Because of that, I often get lost a bit, and tend to lose focus during action scenes, often more interested in how these scenes end up, instead of the road taken to the result. Yet, Maberry doesn’t fall into this trap. Patient Zero has some of the best choreographed, visually clear action scenes I have read in a thriller. I would say that I could picture the scenes like a movie in my mind, but even that would diminish the quality of the writing. What amazed me too, was that these where the type of scenes that you would expect to be cluttered. Armed men fighting the undead, knee deep in chaos doesn’t lend itself to clarity, but somehow Maberry pulls it off. Another plus is the main character, Joe Ledger. I am a big fan of the smart ass. That’s why I love characters like Harry Dresden and Elvis Cole, and enjoy, but not totally embrace the ultra serious Jack Reacher, Joe Pike types. Joe Ledger is Reacher, with a personality. He is a leader and a hero, but not a superhero. Ledger is quite fallible, and he knows it. Great action, solid characters and a likeable hero, plus zombies, well, I can easily say that my expectations were exceeded in every way.

This is the first time I have listened to Ray Porter as a narrator, and I have to say I was quite impressed. Often times in thrillers with significant first person leads, the narrator comes off as an actor pretending to be the lead, telling you the story. Here, it felt like Joe Ledger was actually telling me the story. Often times in thrillers, the narrator will speed up their reading during the action scenes, as if to racket up the excitement. Porter doesn’t do this, instead, he clearly describes the action, allowing the authors work to be responsible for the mood. Porter truly found the perfect rhythm for the book, and never needed to break it. I was truly astonished how well the team of Maberry and Porter pulled off this audiobook. It was truly the perfect marriage of author and narrator.

 

Note: A special thank you to the good people at Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this audiobook. You can purchase this audiobook at all major bookseller sites, or at Blackstone’s own website Here.

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One response

25 05 2012
My Top 10 Zombie Novels and Series « The Guilded Earlobe

[…] My Review of Patient Zero […]

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