“Patient Zero”
by Jonathan Maberry
read by Ray Porter
produced by Blackstone Audio
Approx 15 hours

I love zombies, whether it’s zombie movies, a zombie TV series or zombie books, as long as it’s zombies I love them.  Zombies have a way about them, teenage girls can’t get all gushy over them and want to marry them, they are monsters, flesh eating monsters and nothing can stop them, except for a head shot.  There just is no way to really romanticize a zombie, so the horror of them trying to hunt you down and the survival instincts used to fight them off are straightforward and simple, kill or die.

I thought that there wasn’t much new people could do with zombies that hasn’t been done.  There are fast zombies and the slow zombies, zombies brought from the grave by Haitian voodoo priests, bacteria from a space probe or various other methods of reanimating the corpses, and nearly all zombie apocalypse stories tell of survivors and how they survive while searching for a cure and/or why there came to be zombies taking over their mall, town or country.  This book by Jonathan Maberry actually does do something new, this tells first how and why zombies can be made and then what to do to prevent them.  Picture “Night of the Living Dead,” Rambo and James Bond in a mashup and you’ve got this non-stop action packed horror/thriller where a zombie apocalypse is looming over the horizon.

The cover of this book says it is a “Joe Ledger novel.”  Joe Ledger being the main character who is pulled from the Baltimore Police to become a special ops agent in a secret branch of the government.   So with that on the cover, I had to find out and sure enough this is the first book of three featuring Ledger, and let me tell you, with the story Maberry weaves and the super cool character of Joe Ledger this is going to be a great collection of stories.  Ledger kicks butt like no other, and he does it with class.  Just roll James Bond, Rambo, Steven Segal, Jean Claude Van-Damme into one and the outcome still couldn’t stand up against Joe Ledger.  He is just that cool and tough.  Plus Ledger has the smart mouth that Bruce Willis’ tough characters all seem to have.

Anyway, back to zombies.  Yes this is a zombie book.  Since 9/11 terrorists have been trying their best to attack the free world, but it seems they threw their best on that day and ever since their Jihad has just faded into the Afghan mountains.   Well, known terrorist El Mujahid is being funded to create a virus/parasite that turns people into the walking dead.  Ledger kills one of these, or so he thinks, when his task force raids a warehouse in which terrorists are holed up.  When a mysterious government agency called the DMS tries to recruit Ledger, they do so by having him try to handcuff a man in another room.  It turns out that man is the same man Ledger killed, only this time his flesh has rotted a bit more.  After Ledger kills this terrorist twice he is told of the virus/parasite that is being unleashed on America and with all his patriotic duty he jumps on-board.

His team is to replace two other teams that were taken by surprise as the bodies in a hospital became reanimated from the bite of the original terrorist.  The teams hesitate shooting as women, children, doctors and nurses all begin eating each other and attacking.  Ledger is hired because of his lack of hesitation and ability to assess any situation at the speed of light.

Pulling the best of the best to form Echo Team, Ledger becomes their leader and they raid a warehouse where more “walkers” are suspected to be found, ready to be unleashed on the population.  When Ledger and his team arrive they find scientists conducting research on the zombies/walkers.  The scientists are releasing the walkers on several captured children.  Echo Team explodes on the scene taking out all the walkers and most of the scientists, managing to save most of the children, although they will need some serious therapy.

Ledger’s team soon learns that a major final attack of the zombie creating virus is planned and must act fast to not only stop the zombies but to find out where and when the attack will occur.

This book is solid action from the first word spoken and even the end of the book leaves you with your adrenaline ready to be released for more fight or flight action.  Maberry has created the perfect action zombie story with the perfect action hero to lead the fight.

The real plus behind this audio book is the seemingly unlimited voice talent of Ray Porter.  His vocal gymnastics lead you down the dark hallways with horror and then exposes the action with expressed excitement.  Porter’s gymnastics don’t stop there, he also is able to vocalize the many accents not only giving the characters accents based on their nationality but also based on their motives and psyche.  His presentation of Joe Ledger is par excellence.

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