Audiobook Review: Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

31 03 2014

Code Zero (Joe Ledger, Bk. 6) by Jonathan Maberry

Read by Ray Porter

Macmillan Audio

Length: 16 Hrs 3 Min

Genre: SF/Horror Thriller

Grade: A+

In the latest Joe Ledger thriller by Jonathan Maberry…. well, awesomeness happens, Horrible, tragic and often fatal awesomeness, but still… you get the picture. It’s very hard for me to actually review a Joe Ledger novel and this is why I don’t really try. In the last novel, Extinction Machine Maberry took the X-Files to the next extreme, and in the series debut Patient Zero Maberry reminded us why zombies are goddam fucking scary. Really, if god created an author solely for the purpose of putting my worse fears and fanatical likes to paper, Maberry is a robot uprising away from divine perfection. This is why you have to take my review with a grain of salt… an awesome grain of salt. In the latest, Code Zero Maberry has topped himself by returning to some of his previously traveled paths and amping them up with blue meth. One of the standout aspects of Code Zero is that Maberry gives us an alternate view of past events at the Department of Military Sciences through a new set of eyes. Because of this, we got a chance to revisit, if briefly, some beloved fallen comrades. Maberry also manages to create a new kind of bad guy, maniacal in her own way, yet quite different from what we have seen in the series. As with every other book in the series, Maberry doesn’t cut his hero any breaks. Joe is again called on to literally save the world while the potential of tragic personal sacrifice lingers over his head. As a reader, I don’t know how much more I can take, and I am surprised the Joe’s fragile psyche has held up as long as it has. Again, Maberry’s intense action is cinematic in scope. The scenes come alive in your head. Each scene is huge, but Maberry keeps it contained and intimate guiding us through the chaos like a master director. My only negative is that I still haven’t bought in to Joe’s latest love interest. Maybe it’s a residue from the loss of a past love, or perhaps the incongruousness of the relationship. While the relationship is conflicted, it lacks conflict and part of my brain agrees with Violin when she says he needs a women more in his world. Yet, Maberry does use the relationship effectively, adding levels to the story. My other quibbling complain is that, despite his move to the West Coast, Maberry once again releases potentially apocalyptic danger onto the Philly area, but since it’s Willow Grove, I’ll forgive him. (Suggestion: Croydon could use a nice dose of Captain Trips.) The release of a Joe Ledger novels is my Christmas and Code Zero is a gift that doesn’t disappoint.

It must be a great feeling as an author knowing you have a narrator that doesn’t just get what you’re doing but manages to deliver every line with authenticity and emotional impact. Ray Porter, with a simple pause, or a stumbled line, milks every moment of this book to make you truly feel it. His reading raced my heart, gave me chills down my back and had me hiding in the bathroom so people at work didn’t think I had a pet related tragedy. If there is one series to point to and shout “This is how audiobooks should be done” (which admitted I would absolutely do given the right motivation and perhaps one too many Yuengling lagers,) than it’s Ray Porter’s reading of the Joe Ledger series. Take it from this fanboy, I would totally recommend getting a full physical before listening to Code Zero to make sure your heart can take it.





Audiobook Review: Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry

3 04 2013

Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger, Bk. 5)

Read by Ray Porter

Macmillan Audio

Length: 14 Hrs 58 Min

Genre: Science Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Extinction Machine is like a sick blend of The X-Files and 24, amped up on meth, laced with cocaine, marinated in Jolt cola and mainlined directly into my brain through my earholes. I absolutely loved this book. It’s a novel so tailored to my likes that I briefly wondered if my 2-year-old self was correct and the world actually does revolve around me.

Grade: A+

Anyone who is a reader of mystery novels or has any knowledge of Sherlock Holmes has more than likely come across this quote "…when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." And those of us who have spent anytime between the pages of a science fiction or fantasy novel have probably come across the Arthur C. Clark quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I think the interplay between these two ideas form the basis that is Jonathan Maberry’s excellent science based thriller series featuring Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences. In fact, Clark’s quote is one of his three rules, and sadly the one most often overlooked is the second rule which says, "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible." This is exactly what Maberry does with the mystery of a magician, he takes what seems impossible, what has become wrapped in myth and mythology, what is often scoffed at and ridiculed, and makes it seem eerily possible. When reading a Joe Ledger novel, the author doesn’t require you to suspend disbelief, he beats the disbelief out of you. It’s easy to take things like Zombies, bioengineering, Vampires and even Alien technology and dismiss them outright as paranormal impossibilities. I know, I often do it myself. While I am fascinated by these topics, and believe my mind is open to possibilities, that side of me is too often beaten down by my inner skeptic. Except when I am reading Maberry. Maberry doesn’t just make me want to believe. He makes me believe. He makes me think that those who don’t believe are the naive, ridiculous ones. He does this by blending just enough fact into his fiction, where you simply must pay attention. This is why Maberry has become my favorite modern author and his Joe Ledger series is currently my favorite ongoing series of any genre.

As reports of flying saucer sightings skyrocket, and mysterious cyber attacks plague some of the top scientific development companies in the US, Joe Ledger and Echo team are sent to investigate a lead, and walk into a horror show perpetrated by two mysterious agents in back with seemingly impossible gear. Then the president is abducted right out of his bedroom and the only evidence left behind are crop circles in the White House lawn… OK, Let me stop right there. Head onto the internet and find a better summary, because I can’t get past that last statement… CROP CIRCLES ON THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN. Mr. Maberry, get out of my frackin’ brain. I’m serious. This man is a sick demon magician who just pulls out my darkest twisted desire of things I want to see in a novel and puts them to paper, MAKING THEM BETTER THAN I CAN EVEN IMAGINE! Sorry about the caps, but come on… CROP CIRCLES on the mother of god WHITE HOUSE LAWN. Now, I know, most of you guys are not me, but really, all Maberry had to do was write that phrase, and he had me sold. Yet, it was even better that that. Extinction Machine is like a sick blend of The X-Files and 24, amped up on meth, laced with cocaine, marinated in Jolt cola and mainlined directly into my brain through my earholes. I absolutely loved this book. ABSOLUTELY. Now, I typically enjoy a Maberry tale, but Extinction Machine felt like it was custom built for my brain. The great thing about Joe Ledger is he’s not an action hero or superhero in a traditional sense. He is human. He’s conflicted. He is riddled with guilt and burdened with his past. And he totally kicks ass. Maberry takes all you think you may know about alien conspiracies, and put together a scenario that would make even the hardest skeptic think. Yet, Extinction Point is not about making you believe. It about great characters, a compelling plot, true human drama, and action so visually cinematic that I felt the need to carry a bag of popcorn around with me while I listened to it. No matter what labels I slap onto my blog, I am not a true book reviewer. I share my experiences with a book, and my experience with Extinction Point was pure joy, Extinction Point played into everything I love about reading, touching on topics that fascinate me. It’s a novel so tailored to my likes that I briefly wondered if my 2-year-old self was correct and the world actually does revolve around me. I know it’s a bit early, but Extinction Machine is easily my favorite listening experience of 2013.

There are certain series where the audiobook narrator becomes as vital to the story as the actual characters themselves. For me, Ray Porter is as vital a part of The Joe Ledger series as Joe, Ghost, Mr. Church, Bunny, Top and the rest. Porter makes this brilliant transformation when reading the words that Jonathan Maberry puts to page, he becomes Joe Ledger. Porter does what few narrators can do authentically, he adds to the character. Porter doesn’t just read the words, he speaks them as the true Joe Ledger would, full of emotion, humanity, doubt and confliction. He sighs, his voice breaks, he stumbles over thoughts and phrases just like you picture the real character doing. At times, I feel that Porter knows Joe Leger almost as well as the author who created him. Porter also is one of the few narrators who can read with a lightning speed, yet still; give every word its due. He races through the intense action scenes like a bullet, yet never loses the reader. It hard for me to express how much I enjoy this series and the work of this narrator. It truly an amazing experience and one that seems to get better every time I am given the opportunity to experience it.





Audiobook Review: Assassin’s Code by Jonathan Maberry

18 04 2012

Assassin’s Code by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger, Book 4)

Read by Ray Porter

Macmillan Audio

Length: 15 Hrs 39 Min

Genre: Science Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Assassin’s Code is a fast paced, no holds barred science thriller with perhaps the most engaging series character in fiction today. If you have yet to listen to a Joe Ledger Book, makes sure you have plenty of time on your hands because once you start, you will not want to stop.

Grade: A+

You know, once, someone tried to tell Jack Bauer a "Knock Knock" joke. In seconds, Jack figured out who was there, who they worked for, and just where the goddam bomb was. I’ve always liked jokes like this. Whether they are about Jack Bauer, Mr. T., Chuck Norris, or any random badass character that a generation has latched onto. Being a huge fan of the show 24, my favorite jokes of this sort were always the Jack Bauer ones. We love our over the top bad ass celebrities, and revel in their cold heated determination and willingness to go beyond the law and do whatever it takes to stop the world’s evil doers from wreaking havoc on the innocent citizens. Yet, while many remember the hard core, take no prisoners ultra violent heroics of characters like Jack Bauer, what has always stuck with me is those moments when these characters show emotion. Where after barely containing a toxic gas attack, and having to cut his partners arm off with an axe, Jack finds himself alone, and bursts into tears, showing us that despite his willingness to do what it takes, killing and violence takes its toll on a person, even a badass like Jack Bauer. Jonathan Maberry has created a character in Joe Ledger who has taken badassery to a whole other level. Some of the things that Ledger has had to deal with would make Chuck Norris wet himself, roll up into a ball and cry for his mommy. Yet, one of the things that Jonathan Maberry and narrator Ray Porter both have done so well with this Joe Ledger character is show us the affects of violence on this unstable man. Joe Ledger is truly a hero, yet, with a small crack in his voice, or a slow moment when he is transfixed by a simple photograph of children playing in the street, we see levels to Joe Ledger that we rarely get to witness in out action heroes.

Assassin’s Code is the fourth novel featuring Joe Ledger and Echo Team who work for a secret branch of the government called the Department if Military Science. Echo Team and DMS handle some of the weirdest situations, those that go beyond what you would expect out of a typical Special Forces team. Usually, their missions involve science gone way too wrong. They deal with monsters, and threats most people wouldn’t even believe exist outside of the movies. In Assassin’s Code, their ability to expect the unexpected is pushed to the extreme, when they encounter an evil ripped out of horror books. In a series known for its fast paced action, and outrageous enemies, Maberry manages to push the envelope even further. Assassin’s Code moves like a rocket blast, as Joe Ledger and his team jump from one life threatening situations to the next, with no safe harbor or chance for rest. The stakes are quite high, even for soldiers who have faced Zombies, genetically altered monsters, and highly motivated conspiracies. Now, an unknown player has placed seven nuclear bombs in strategic locations around the world, and it’s up to Joe Ledger and his team to find them. Yet, with all the high stakes action and harrowing situations, it is really the portrayal of Joe Ledger that pushes this beyond your typical action tale. Ledger has quickly become my favorite fictional character. The fractured and unstable nature of his personality gives us a look into the heart of a warrior in a unique and compelling way. Maberry offers no unnecessary moments in this novel. Whether it’s Joe interaction with his dog Ghost, or the interplay between Echo team members, each moment fulfills a purpose and adds richness and texture to the tale being told. Assassin’s Code has a complex, almost over the top plot, yet in the hands of Maberry, it comes off seamlessly. The action is well orchestrated, and easy to follow, and the conspiracies within conspiracies are fully drawn, and come together perfectly at the end, tying up not just all the threads from this novel, but the series as well. From the first book in this series, to the latest, Maberry has manages to up the game, with each edition building on top of the pervious one. Assassin’s Code is a fast paced, no holds barred science thriller with perhaps the most engaging series character in fiction today. If you have yet to listen to a Joe Ledger Book, makes sure you have plenty of time on your hands because once you start, you will not want to stop.

I have said it, Jonathan Maberry has said it, and a bastion of the fans of this series have said it, Ray Porter is the voice of Joe Ledger. Porter is one of my favorite first person narrators, because he breathes such life into his characters. With a simple breath, stutter or change of pace, he portrays so much about Joe Ledger‘s nature.. When Joe Ledger’s voice slightly breaks discussing with his best friend how he cracked a joke before killing a man, you become as emotionally devastated as the character. Porter encompasses each player in this tale, get’s to know them, and delivers them up to us as fully realized individuals. You can just tell how much he get’s into the spirit of the action. His pacing is dead on, adding a sense of urgency, yet managing to deliver it all clearly. Ray Porter’s performance of Assassin’s Code and the Joe Ledger series epitomizes what a wonderful experience listening to an audiobook can be when the right narrator is given just the right material. 





Audiobook Review: Joe Ledger: The Missing Files by Jonathan Maberry

2 11 2011

Joe Ledger: The Missing Files by Jonathan Maberry

Read by Ray Porter

Blackstone Audio

Length: 4 Hrs 5 Mins

Genre: Thriller/Horror

Quick Thoughts: The Missing Files is the perfect treat for fans of Joe Ledger, and offers just enough of a glimpse of our favorite characters to tide us over to our next DMS meal.

Grade: A-

I have to say that I’m amazed that it has been just about 7 months ago that I first listen to a novel by Jonathan Maberry. Seven little months since I was introduced to Joe Ledger and his fellow members of the Department of Military Sciences. Since listening to Patient Zero, I have listen to seven other novels by Jonathan Maberry, with two more in my November "To Be Listened To" Queue. So, yes, you can say I have become a fan, bordering a bit on fanboy. When I first heard about Maberry’s Joe Ledger short story collection called, Joe Ledger: The Missing Files, I wanted to jump right into it. I needed a Joe Ledger fix, because the fourth novel in the series, Assassin’s Creed, doesn’t come out until April of 2012. Yet, I had to force myself to exercise some patience. You see, I hate spoilers. No matter how many times an author tells me I can read their series out of order, I refuse. I don’t even like to read summaries of books I plan on listening to. When I found out that one of the stories in The Missing Files took place after the events of Maberry’s Pine Deep Trilogy, I knew I just had to wait until after I completed listening to those books. I was quite proud of my patience, as I had the audiobook sitting on my desk just calling out for me to listen to. I’m Glad I waited.

The Missing Files is a collection of 5 short stories in the Joe Ledger World. Some of the stories act as bookends for the 3 full length novels. Countdown introduces you to Joe Ledger, and covers much of what you learned about him in the first chapter of Patient Zero. Zero Tolerance works well as a coda for Patient Zero, giving us one last glimpse at a character’s terrifying end. Dog Days is an excellent bridge between The Dragon Factory and The King of Plagues, and introduces us to an important new character, Ghost. All these stories are excellent and give you a sense of balance with the series. I always like short stories that bridge the gaps between novels. It’s nice to know that characters are just sitting around waiting for us to start reading about them and their next adventure, but are actually living their lives. The short story Material Witness brings together the world of Joe Ledger, and that of Pine Deep, the most Haunted Town in the World. It was fun to see characters from both of Maberry’s series interact, plus you get a nice little update on what some of our favorite denizens of Pine Deep are up to. My favorite short of the audiobook had to be Deep Dark. It’s a creepy little tale about the excesses of science and it’s the perfect vehicle for a Joe Ledger story. What I really liked about it was it gives you a new perspective on Ledger and his team.  It’s easy to see Echo Team as sort of a wrecking ball when things go bad. I liked that Ledger actually showed empathy and looked for alternative solutions to just shooting everything that moves. The Missing Files is the perfect treat for fans of Joe Ledger, and offers just enough of a glimpse of our favorite characters to tide us over to our next DMS meal.

What else is there to say about Ray Porter’s narration that hasn’t already been said? Again, and this should be no shock to fans of the Joe Ledger audiobooks, he is brilliant at capturing the feel and persona of Joe Ledger. Listening to Dog Days just proves again that Porter understands not just the surface Joe Ledger, but the emotional undercurrent of his character. He truly captures the brokenness of the man, in a way that many narrators just can’t. I love how Porter uses dramatic pauses, sighs and other affectations that just come off so authentic that it seems as if the writer wrote them into the story itself. I know it has been said before, by me and many others, but Ray Porter is Joe Ledger, and makes an already great series of stories even better.

 

Note: A special thanks to the wonderful people at Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title to review.





Audiobook Review: The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry

17 06 2011

The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry

Read by Ray Porter

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The third Joe Ledger novel starts with a literal bang and never lets up. The incredibly terrifying plot is handled perfectly by narrator Ray Porter, who totally encompasses the role of DMS agent Joe Ledger.

Grade: A

I think Jonathan Maberry is trying to kill me. OK, maybe not me specifically, but it seems with each book, the terrorist attacks, and general mayhem of Joe Ledger’s world just keeps getting closer to home. In Patient Zero, fundamentalist try to unleash a zombie plague in Philadelphia, the city whose suburbs I’ve lived my entire life in. Now, in King of Plagues mercenaries wreak havoc on a Starbucks a mere 10 minutes from my house. What’s next, genetically engineered monkeys on my front steps, I mean, seriously, can’t we send some grief Cleveland’s way. I’m just saying. The King of Plagues is the third book in the Joe Ledger series, and it starts off with a literal bang. Ledger is pulled out of his self imposed exile to investigate the bombing of The Royal London Hospital. This attack, which leads to nearly 4,000 casualties, is the type of tragedy that a good thriller ends with the good guys preventing. Yet, in The King of Plagues, Maberry starts with the successful tragedy, sending notice right away that this isn’t going to be an easy day in the life of Captain Joe Ledger.

In Joe Ledger, Maberry has created one of the most intriguing modern day heroes in fiction. Ledger isn’t a superman. Sure, when the battle is brought to him, he usually finds a way to wind, no matter what the odds, but despite his victories, he never leaves without scares, physical, and otherwise. What truly has made Ledger, perhaps my favorite thriller character is his utter humanness. Some author’s give lip service to how hard it is to take a human life, and how hard the life of taking down evil-doers is, yet, in Ledger, you feel the karmic scares, and sense his heartbreak with each horrible thing he must do. In the King of Plagues, Ledger is again battling those who would do harm on a global scale. The scenario dreamt up by Maberry is terrifying, using what is best about humankind to aid in evil of a massive scale.  Again, Maberry offers well choreographed action that plays out in your mind in more crisp detail than most action movies, each step is deliberate, with no wasted movement, or unnecessary clutter. I for one was wondering how Mayberry would top his previous two Joe Ledger novels, yet I knew right away that Maberry was bringing his ‘A’ game when you find out that Joe Ledger now has a dog. I mean, all the awesomeness of Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory, plus a kick ass dog. That’s off the chart awesome with all the fixin’s.

You only need to listen to the first 15 minutes, or the last 15 minutes of the audiobook to see how much Ray Porter has encompassed the character of Joe Ledger. Porter’s reading of Ledger is so real, so perfect that it’s almost scary. With each character, Porter not only creates a voice and accent, but a specific cadence and confidence in speech. With each sigh, deep breath and awkward pause you can hear Ledger’s doubts, and feel his pain, yet, with Mr. Church, Porter comes at you rapid fire, as if each second he spends talking heightens the chances of the world coming to an end. Porter adds this level of detail to every character, no matter how large or small. It’s a rare treat to find a narrator so suited for a role. For fans of thrillers with a science fiction bent, you can’t do much better than the team of Maberry and Porter.

Note: A special thanks to the kind people at Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of The King of Plagues. You can purchase this audiobook direct from their site: BlackstoneAudio.com





Audiobook Review: The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

29 04 2011

The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger, Book 2)

Read by Ray Porter

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Science Fiction Thriller

Quick Thoughts: An fun science fiction action thriller that moves beyond your typical novels with a detailed look at true monsters, and evil.

Grade: A

What exactly is a monster? I thing the concept of what a monster is has changed a lot over the past century. Growing up, to me, when I would think about monsters, I would think of Frankenstein or that creature that lived in my room who every once in a while, I could see just out of my peripheral vision. Today, monsters are much more benign. According to Sesame Street, monsters were cute and huggable, and enjoyed cookies and saying the alphabet. We have cute cuddly movies about monsters, saving the world and protecting kids. Yet, these where not my monsters. My monsters hunted you. My monsters were predators. Yet, I never thought of my monsters as evil. Evil is a choice, monsters are slaves to their nature.  A few days ago, I made a joke about how I was about to start the novel The Dragon Factory by Jonathon Maberry, and I called it “more monster killing fun.” I have read a few books about killing monsters recently, many of them really good, yet with the Dragon Factory, I really began to think, what are the true monsters? Even more so, what monsters am I really afraid of.

When I reviewed the first Joe Ledger book, I was blown away by the crisp, well choreographed action scenes. In The Dragon Factory Maberry continues his quality action scenes, but adds a bit more to the formula. The Dragon Factory is a look at the true monsters of our society, those that choose evil. Maberry isn’t very subtle at times, with detailed discussions on the Nazi experimentations and Eugenics. Yet, there is one scene in the book, a discussion between a young boy, we’ll call him SAM here, and Joe Ledger’s shrink best friend Rudy, which truly puts the focus on the issue. Sometimes, in novels of such epic evilness, where the true monsters are trying to decimate the world as we know it, and remake it in their own awful images, it’s the small moments, the interpersonal intimate moments that have the most effect. While I loved Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory grew my appreciation of Maberry as a writer and storyteller. Now, don’t let the deepness of the review give you the wrong impression, The Dragon Factory is a whole lot of fun. Crisp action and bad guys that sort of remind me of a more sophisticated, adult version Cobra from the old GIJoe cartoons. I always wonder about evil doers. If they could somehow pull their shit together, and not get into petty power struggles and suffer from intense paranoia, then maybe they would have brought about that apocalypse they have been so keen on. Yet, I guess that’s one thing about evil, it’s an affliction of the soul. Lucky for us, I guess.

Ray Porter again handles the narration for The Dragon Factory, which is a good thing. Porter handles the characters well, and his pacing and sense of rhythm for the action scenes are spot on. Yet, where he really excels is the first person narrative of Joe Ledger. For me, Porter has become Joe Ledger. He brings such a sense of authenticity to the character. Ledger has his demons, and isn’t exactly stable, and some narrators may take that a license to over do things. Yet, the instability of Porter’s Ledger is simmering just below the surface. His doubts enter in to his voice, yet they don’t overwhelm it. I found one early scene, where Ledger is discussing the anniversary of a tragic event in his life, to be the perfect example of how to handle this character. It really was a moving moment, and set the tone for the rest of the novel, and Porter handles it perfectly. If The Dragon Factory is the example of how Maberry will progress this series, then the latest Joe Ledger novel, The King of Plagues, will truly be special.

 

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.





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.