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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review - Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Yeah again with the zombies. I can’t help that I’ve been on a zombie kick of late with my reading habits. There are just so many to choose from. Dead of Night is the first in a series from Jonathan Maberry. How about we jump right into the action?

A doctor left over from the Cold War decides that a serial killer named Homer Gibbon deserves more than to just be executed. He injects him with a chemical weapon he had worked on so that instead of dying he would reanimate and feel the parasites responsible for his undead state eat away at him. Sadly, the killer isn’t buried in a prison graveyard as intended and instead is shipped off to the small town in Pennsylvania. The spread of the infection starts with the undertaker and in a few hours the whole town is overrun with zombies. It is up to a couple local cops, Dez and J.T. to protect the survivors from both the dead and the army who wants to contain and hush up the incident.

Here we have another wonderful read. The story plays out in both expected and unexpected ways. Let me explain what I mean. The zombies follow the typical “rules”. You can mangle them, but only a headshot drops them permanently. They crave the flesh of the living and will pursue them endlessly. And except for Homer, the serial killer and first zombie, they are of the mindless variety. As a huge zombie fan, I like it when a story follows some of the tropes of the genre as it lets me dive into the story easily. That said Maberry does a wonderful job fleshing things out, pun intended.

Jonathan Maberry himself! Going on my must read list.
Now for the unexpected. The reason for the outbreak is explained in detail and is maybe more gross than the walking dead themselves. There is a parasite that reanimates the dead and uses them to pass itself along to the next victim. These are described in detail as little larva/maggot looking things that are swimming along in what was the blood of the previous victim. They bite or spit the blood/goo at new victims. The parasite kills the host and takes control of their body, but allows their consciousness to exist as it kills and partially eats others! This disturbed the hell out of me while I was reading the book and give huge props to Maberry for putting a new twist on the zombie story. The fact that the only zombie with intelligence is the serial killer who thinks his new existence makes him a god or something was also a nice twist.

The characters that populate the rest of the book, Dez, J.T., and Billy (Dez’s ex-boyfriend) are well written and fun to root for. I also thought that the pacing was perfect with plenty of action while still taking time to develop three dimensional characters. When bad things happen to them it makes it all that much more engaging. Hell, at times I sort of felt bad for the serial killer turned zombie who never had a chance once he was put into the foster care system!

This is a great book that I can without question or caveat recommend for both the casual and hard core zombie fan.


© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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