Patient Zero starts with Joe Ledger and his team moving into a warehouse to take out a terrorist cell. Inside, they kill the men, but one guy seems different from the rest as he stumbles around and goes for Joe. Joe takes him out with two gunshots to the back, and tries to move on. However, he is taken by men from the FBI and meets Mr Church, who tells him the threat is worse than Joe thought. He sets Joe a task, and puts him in a room, telling him all he have to do is restrain the prisoner. Joe thinks it will be easy, until the prisoner turns around and reveals himself to be the terrorist Joe had killed.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for to find decent, original zombie fiction. Some of it runs along the same line – zombies rise, world ends, protagonist/group of people find out how to survive. Not that all the ones that go along this line are bad or unoriginal, some authors have done a brilliant job of taking this and adding something nice and new. But Patient Zero isn’t one of these post-apocalypse tales. The world doesn’t end and in fact, for the most part, it carries on as normal.
Joe becomes part of an elite secret organisation fighting a new global threat. Terrorists have created zombies, and Joe, along with this group, unravel a plan to unleash these zombies on the world.
It really is an interesting take on the zombie novel, and we don’t just get the story from Joe’s POV. Maberry gives us glimpses into the other side, with chapters dedicated to the man financing the whole thing and the terrorists who believe they are doing Allah’s will. The book moves from the USA in the build-up to the fourth of July, to the Middle East where the virus strains are being created and improved. We see all sides and in that way, get to know things ahead of the heroes fighting to save the world.
The tension builds up throughout the book, as we follow the characters through their different paths. Maberry does a brilliant job of really drawing us in to each of the characters, of bringing us into their various worlds and making us eager to see Joe and company solve the mystery and save the world before it’s too late. And it’s never a completely certain thing that they will save the world or that they will all survive.
The only problem I found was the relationship between Joe and Grace. It felt, at times, quite rushed. Not that it has to be a slow burning romance but it didn’t feel very realistic, and the character of Grace didn’t feel very realistic, either. She just feels, at times, like she’s put in just to be a kick arse, military female love interest for Joe.
With the exception of the zombies, it’s not the type of book I would usually read. Going into it, soon as I realised it was going to be cops/FBI/secret government types and science, I got a little, well, worried. Like I said, not my usual type of book. But I was glad I kept going, and now I’m thinking maybe I should start reading thriller and crime novels – without the zombie aspects – more often.
Overall the book was solid, the characters (for the most part) interesting, and the plot kept me turning the page constantly, eager to find out what would happen next and where the various characters would end up. One I would very much recommend, especially if you want a non-apocalypse zombie novel.
Currently looking for book/film/TV recommendations. If you know something you think I should read or watch, let me know in the comments or drop me a line at email@example.com. Always willing to read self-published work, so if you have a book out, just let me know where I can get a copy.