Category Archives: Book review

Review of Jonathan Maberry’s: The King of Plagues

The King of Plagues

Joe Ledger is back and he brought his smartass sense of humor with him this time. The last book had a little bit of a departure from his sense of humor. This book brings it back with a vengeance. I especially loved when he first gets introduced to Aunt Sally. That scene is classic. I listened to it over and over again, laughing each time.

This book also features the less than triumphant return of Gault and Toys. Their relationship makes these characters more interesting than just the stock bad guys. The reader is never sure how their relationship is going.

Also with Joe we find him returning to the DMS, given glimpses of a side story of what he was doing while he was away. Once again he is thrown into the fire and is already behind as they find out that there is a plot to destroy the world.

I like the way Jonathan Maberry has been handling these characters, especially Joe and Church. He metes out a small amount of insight at a time as to who they are, what they want, and why they do what they do. Joe especially is a very human character with faults and frailties instead of just being an emotionless badass. I find that this adds amazing depth to the character. The internal conflict that the reader sees him go through on a regular basis makes him very accessible through his doubts and fears.

The other addition that I really liked in this book was Joe’s German Shepherd, Ghost. At first, Ghost seems like a prop, but as the story goes along, Ghost begins to show his own personality. It is definitely a sidekick role but as the story progresses we see the relationship between Joe and Ghost which is deeper than a trained dog and his handler.

The storyline was interesting. It wasn’t immediately a doomsday plot and Mr. Maberry did a great job of milking the mythology of secret groups and adding his own slant to it while making it seem plausible instead of cliched, which it easily could’ve become.

Once again there was a great amount of tension as we watch the villains systematically execute their plot and watch the DMS struggle to catch up. As the story continues and Joe discovers what is happening piece by piece, the seeming infallibility of the group is chipped away.

One of the other new characters is Santoro,  a devoted madman whose character definitely evokes strong emotions. I felt myself wanting to harm this person at several points for the things that he had done. The villains were done quite well not only in Santoro but also the Seven Kings who were the group behind the scenes, driving the whole nefarious plot.

The plot itself was less supernatural this time and more about a group who wanted to profit from mass destruction, however, their web of deception was so well done and so well written that I found myself more interested in this story than the first two.

The only real supernatural component was the character Nicodemus, who was creepy and very interesting, and I could easily see being a continuing thorn in Joe’s side throughout other books.

If anything, this book had more of an emotional impact than the other two, with the exception of a certain scene in The Dragon Factory, because it really showed the depths an individual can be coerced to do to save those they love. It was emotional because Santoro took good people, caring people, who were absolutely devoted to the people they love and turn that against them and use them for unconscionable acts of evil.

I listened to this book on Audible, and once again Ray Porter’s narration was excellent. Again his narration involved me in the story in a way that the book would not be able to.

Another new character that I liked was Sercie. When she started out she was a very dry character until she introduced herself to Joe. That scene in itself was completely hysterical,  and I really liked that they brought her in as a former friend of Grace’s.

Another thing I liked about this book was the plot. In Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory, I guessed a majority of the ending about halfway through the book. With this book, I had no idea what was coming until the very end. I was happy with a plot that kept me guessing and at the same time was brilliant in its own simplicity. I enjoyed not guessing the ending halfway through the book.

Overall, another very interesting and involving book that continues to grow the main characters. I look forward to the next.

Review of Jonathan Maberry’s ‘The Dragon Factory’

Joe Ledger is back and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. The story barely starts before he’s being pursued by government agents for an unknown purpose. This book jumps us straight into the intrigue of the story of wondering why Joe is yet again being chased two months after joining the DMS.

Jumping straight into pursuit mode, this book is very much about action and intrigue which kept it moving along at a good pace.

A very strong, smart, group of evil characters who seem to have out thought the DMS gives Joe a formidable, seemingly unbeatable, enemy.

The thing that really struck me about this book was the stronger sense of relationship. Being that Joe Ledger is already established as a character, there’s a lot more of showing his relationship between the other characters. The trust that is forming between him an Church, the physical and emotional relationship that’s building between him and Grace, even caring about what happens to his men and being a better leader through knowing what his men can do.

There’s even minor relationships like between Joe and Dr. Hu, that are not critical to the story but amusing nonetheless.

Once again we’re given a countdown throughout the book that keeps the tension very high. We also have a sense of intrigue on the antagonist’s side of the story, giving us a very two sided story with a great deal of depth. That, plus the fact that the world is in very real danger of total extinction, keeps the tension high throughout.

One thing that I missed in this book was Joe’s smartass sense of humor. It seemed to have dissipated a little bit as he grows into his role in the DMS.

I listened to this book on Audible and the voice acting was excellent. Ray Porter did a wonderful job. All of the characters were very convincing and really drew me into the story. It also made the conversations much easier to follow when the characters had different accents.

The story itself was very well done. In the end, the plot could’ve been a very eye roll subject, however, Jonathan Maberry very expertly wove it together with the sinister intelligence of the villains and threw in a surprise or two at the end.

Unfortunately, I guessed a major plot point early on. So I spent most of the book confirming my suspicions. However, it was well done and the ending was both satisfying and disheartening.

 

A worthy read for the action/adventure/military crowd.

Review of Jonathan Maberry’s, ‘Patient Zero’

‘Patient Zero’ by Jonathan Maberry

‘Warning, mild spoilers’

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading my first Jonathan Maberry book, ‘Patient Zero’. Even though I am a fan of the zombie genre, it has been overused in the past few years and has become increasingly difficult to pull off a story that has a fresh perspective. Jonathan Maberry was able to do just that.

I appreciated the way he handled the subject. Using the word ‘Walkers’ instead of ‘Zombies’ a large percentage of the time gave it a different feel as well. One would be inclined to think that the author used the word to piggyback on the success of the now famous TV show, ‘The Walking Dead’ however, Patient Zero was published over a year before the show aired its pilot episode.

The main focus of this story was its lead character, Joe Ledger. Joe was a person that was easy to like right away. His sarcastic attitude and disdain for authority was backed up by his ability to take care of himself. At first we’re given glimpses of what Joe’s capable of as he describes the mistakes people make around him, but later on we find out just how capable he really is.

The manner in which the story is told is very detailed and a little dry at first, but those details paint the picture very clearly as the story progresses.

The story itself is a bit of an upgrade as well. We find that there is a terrorist organization that is attempting to do horrible things, however this one is very well thought out, with layers of subtlety. In fact, most of the way through the book we find the terrorists to be many steps ahead of Joe and his team.

The supporting cast is well fleshed out with many believable and intriguing characters. The most intriguing is the enigmatic leader of the ficticious government agency that recruits Joe, the DMS. The character, ‘Church’ could easily fall into the category of tight lipped agent leading his own department. However Mr. Maberry gave him such a depth of character that I found myself wanting to know more about him.

What followed was a whirlwind hunt to try and stop the unstoppable. This added tension to the story when they found out that there was no cure and infection would spread like an unchecked wildfire.

The tension drove this story. Tension of the DMS and Joe finding that they are hopelessly behind in trying to stop this pandemic, tension between characters, and the tension of Joe himself not knowing if he can handle the stress mentally without snapping.

This tension was expertly broken up at just the right places to keep it from being too much. Be it a clever one-liner or Joe’s sarcasm showing through, it gave a break when a break was needed to let the reader catch their breath.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of zombie stories, The Walking Dead, detective, or military cloak and dagger stories. All those elements are well represented with a sprinkle of romance thrown in as well.

I myself will be reading the next Joe Ledger book soon, with high hopes that I will be pleasantly entertained yet again.

 

Mike