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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 Audible.com

For some time now I’ve seen the ads for Audible and mostly ignored them. I considered it to be a good idea and was curious how well it was executed, but that’s as far as my curiosity took me. Then I started driving truck and everything changed.

For a while I tried listening to the radio, but I can only listen to the same ads, same music recycled all day every day before I rip the radio out with my bare hands…or turn it off, whichever one works best.

Along came Audible. I saw an ad on my phone and decided to try it. I’m so glad I did.

I liked the audible interface on my phone. It was very clear and easy to use with buttons large enough to be used without mistakenly hitting the wrong one. I loved the forward or back 30 seconds buttons and used them several times. Options for narration speed, button free, save location, sleep timer, and player settings made the experience very customizable. It was simply well done. I found myself surprised when a message popped up saying that I had earned a badge. This was a stroke of brilliance for the programmers, knowing that many people really enjoy unlocking badges in any app they use.

‘Patient Zero’ by Jonathan Maberry was the first audio book that I had ever listened to on Audible. The recording itself was very well done but not flawless. There were several times when the audio would suddenly lose a decibel or two. In most cases this wouldn’t be an issue, but when I’m listening to it at full volume in a noisy truck, it made a difference. I’m not sure if that was because of the app or the recording itself.

The narrator, Ray Porter, was simply excellent. He gave each character, even the minor ones, their own distinct voice. At one point, Joe (Ledger, the main character) even goes out of his way to mention that his therapist sounded just like Raul Julia from The Addams Family. He really did too. It was uncanny how much he sounded like the former actor and it gave me a clear image every time I heard that character speak.

Again, there were a few minor flaws. The characters voices would sometimes become confused if more than two were talking and on more than one occasion certain characters lost their inflections altogether for a line or two.

This was a minor point, only worthy of a chuckle in an otherwise wonderful job of immersing the listener into the world of Joe Ledger.

The only other downside was the looks of terror the other drivers gave me when they passed my truck and saw me laughing uncontrollably or screaming, ‘Don’t just stand there, shoot him!’ On the plus side, I have yet to be pulled over for such actions either.

Based on this experience, I will definitely be using Audible for a long time to come, and I look forward to the next installment of the Joe Ledger series as well.

Mike