Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry
Read by William Dufris
Length: 13 Hrs 49 Min
Genre: Zombie Outbreak Thriller
Quick Thoughts: Dead of Night does what few Zombie novels have, scared me to the point where I felt a burning desire to build my own heavily armed bunker in preparation for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse and for this, I am not sure whether I should thank the author, or run screaming at the very thought of him.
This is definitely been a wonderful year to be a fan of zombie fiction, especially on audiobook. There has been an upsurge of Zombie novels available on audiobook, especially with the Permuted Press/Audible partnership, as well as authors like Joe McKinney finally getting their work made into audiobooks. We have even had big name literary types offer their own non-linear esoteric spin on the genre. This year I have listened to a lot of zombie audiobooks, offering lots of different types of undead in tons of different scenarios. I have learned a lot about my tastes in Zombie-lit. I’ve learned that I prefer Post apocalyptic Zombie Survival tales, over the more isolated Zombie outbreak novels. I think I enjoy seeing the changes that the Zombie Apocalypse would bring to the world more than following the initial fight to survive the outbreak. I also realized I enjoy the more traditional Romero-esque slow walkers than the variety of unique spins authors try to give their zombies to set them apart from the rest. Yeah, it’s kind of neat when Zombies can incorporate other body parts into their own bodies, and it brings up fascinating possibilities when Zombies develop a hive mind, but these interesting twists can often pull focus away from my favorite aspect of Zombie novels, the ways the living adapt to the undead. So, I was quite excited to when I found out that Jonathan Maberry was putting out a new standalone zombie novel. Maberry had probably been my biggest author find of the year, and I have totally become a fan of his writing. Yet, Dead of Night, the latest Zombie fare from Maberry, is a Zombie outbreak novel, taking place in a small Pennsylvania town, which offers a new twist on the creation and machinations of the undead. So maybe I should have tempered my expectations.
So, here’s the thing, despite the fact that I prefer my Zombies Apocalypse already established, and my undead hordes slow and wobbly, what I really, really prefer is a good story, well written and that’s what Maberry gives you in Dead of Night. Maberry has created one of the most realistic, detailed and fascinating Zombie outbreak novels I have ever listened to. I am rarely actually scared when reading a novel, but Dead of Night horrified me, in a way only the best horror novels can. To be perfectly honest, I rarely get creeped out by splatter and gore. While I appreciate a good scene of Zombies tearing apart some hapless townie or obnoxious outsider, it’s not really what draws me to Zombie fiction. Maberry actually takes us into the consciousness of the undead, and quite frankly, it scared the hell out of me. I have always found Maberry to be a superior plotter, who excels at writing action, and he proves those beliefs here, but what really blew me away in Dead of Night is how well he put us into the minds of his characters. We feel the shock, and live their fears with them. There were quite a few moments in this novel where I felt I was losing it right alongside the characters. Another thing I loved was how flawed and fragile these characters were. So often Zombie fiction is full of these stoic heroes that laugh in the face of the charging Zombie hordes. In Dead of Night, Maberry has no cardboard characters like this, but fully human people whose minds fight the very concepts of the undead as they are reaching out to grab and consume them. 11/30/11
The style of this novel, where the author puts us right into the minds of the characters both living and otherwise, is the perfect vehicle for audio, made even better by Dufris narration. Dufris is one of my favorite narrators for novels with large casts because he has such a large range of character voices. He was definitely well suited for this novel. Dufris amped up his performance for Dead of Night. He didn’t just read this novel, but put everything he had into making the reader feel what the characters were feeling. At times, his performance borders on over the top, but let’s face it, were dealing with a novel about corpses eating the living so this really wasn’t the place for an understated and nuanced performance. So, if you want a Zombie audiobook that will scare the crap out of you, check out Dead of Night. Then maybe we’ll start planning our bunkers together.