Dead of Night by Johnathan Maberry Review
A few years ago on a whim I picked up Jonathan Maberry's book 'Patient Zero'. I was looking for a good zombie book to read and had picked up and thumbed through a few to get a feel for the writing to see if I'd enjoy the book. Ever since then I've been a huge Maberry fan. I've bought and read all of the Joe Ledger series to date (review forthcoming).
I was extremely pleased to learn, then, that Maberry had come out with another book! I received a nook for Christmas, and Maberry's Dead of Night was one of the first purchases I made. My wife was pretty upset because I spent the majority of that weekend plowing through the book instead of doing whatever it was she wanted to do (which would have been lame anyway).
The book itself is fast paced. Maberry does a great job with the speed and flow of his books - one of the reasons I enjoy reading them. He knows how to move quickly but at the same time he doesn't move so fast as to make events jumbled or hard to understand.
The characters he writes into his stories are extremely vivid. I've never found a novel character attractive before Desdemona Fox and I'm pretty sure that should the planets align and she be brought to life as a real person, I'd make a few good passes at her.
He plays well off of archetypal characters when building the players in his novels so that you can fit them into a general class. You can almost compare them to real people or characters you already know. This is great because it allows you to visualize and subsequently connect with the characters in the novel.
Despite the zombie sub-genre being a mostly blank, slash and gash, run and gun sort of thriller, Maberry has an incredible talent for pulling emotion out of his characters. The best part of the experience is feeling loss, sadness, and fear along with the characters. Too often in books of this type, the author makes the mistake of having well adapted characters.
We don't really consider - in books, movies or games - the actual psychological implications of the dead coming back to life and attempting to eat us; that is to say, its freaky as all get out. Maberry does a fantastic job of showing just how unprepared and poorly adjusted the characters would really be in this scenario. Their realistic showing of emotion allows you to connect with them and feel their fear, their pain, their hopelessness. Its these emotions that make the climax and resolution so much more enjoyable. Like the characters, you feel as though you've come through the fires of purgatory.
These realistic and emotionally charged characters allow Maberry to build up suspense. Incredible suspense. The book had me yelling - something movies can rarely get me to do. You'll find yourself shaking your leg nervously because Dez isn't running fast enough, yelling at the police in the beginning of the book: "Don't be alone with that corpse, you idiot!" - But of course they can't hear you.
The zombies in the book are magnificent. Maberry backs up his zombies with sound science (as sound as zombie science can be, I suppose) in a way that makes you believe it could happen. A lot of authors choose the suspension of belief when it comes to difficult explanations, but not Maberry. Like the late Michael Crichton, Maberry dives head first into the fray with believable, well researched science. And it is truly horrifying.
One of the major points of the book is relaying the story through the eyes of the undead - and it is an evil, skin crawling, and completely unnerving passage of text to read. Exactly what you want and expect!
The villains of the book (some overt, some covert) are relatable and yet entirely despicable. A solid villain that allows you to cheer for 'your guy' is essential to any story and Maberry does a good job of making them easy to hate.
There are subtle political threads woven through the book. At one point the book becomes extremely and blatantly critical of the government's bureaucracy and ineptitude. As a big fan of not the government, myself, I found it refreshing.
Maberry also has a brilliant pen when it comes to something that most authors don't seem to understand anymore: Symbolism. The book is packed with solid symbolism and foreshadowing that always hit towards the deeper threads of the story. I've found that in today's world of twilight and chick-lit, its hard to find an author who has a real grasp on symbolism.
All in all, this was an incredible book that I enjoyed every second of. Maberry says there is a sequel coming out and I'll probably take the chance to re-read this book a few times before then!
Buy Dead of Night on Amazon
Dead of Night is a horrifying, exciting, and incredibly fun Zombie novel to read! If you enjoy zombies or the horror genre, you'll love this book!
© 2016 Remy Sheppard