Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Adult Review of Patient Zero (Joe Ledger #1) by Jonathan Maberry

Patient Zero (Joe Ledger, #1)

Title: Patient Zero
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Pages: 421
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2009
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Purchased myself

Back Cover

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills...and there's nothing wrong with Joe Ledger's skills. And that's both a good, and a bad thing. It's good because he's a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new task force created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can't handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences, or the DMS for short. It's bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance...

First Lines

"When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there's either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world."

In a Sentence

This is my first Jonathan Maberry book, but it won't be my last.

My Thoughts

Patient Zero and I have a long, complicated history. (Just ask Christy from Christy's Love of Books). I originally started reading the book over the summer, but because of a slew of reasons (review books, social and familial obligations, graduate school orientation, teaching orientation, heck, even my mood), the poor thing got set aside over and over again. Let me make it clear from the star that this had nothing to do with the book itself. As you'll see shortly, once I actually sat down and committed to reading it, I really enjoyed it! But for God knows why, it took me the LONGEST time to get around to that point. Finally, Christy and I made a bet. If I finished the book before the end of the year, she would buy me a book. If I didn't, I would buy her one. I'm happy to say that I finally cracked down and managed to finish Patient Zero before the end of 2012 (Barely. I read the last page on Christmas night). 

Anyways, onto the book itself. The first thing I noticed about Patient Zero (other than the fact that it was about zombies!) was that it started off with a great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer." Those who know me well can tell you I'm a sucker for a good quote, and it's one of the fastest ways to pull me into a book, so for me, leading with this one was a good choice. It was also a quote that set up the tone for the story and gave the reader a little peek at what was to come.

I also appreciated that, along with the zombies (which I love) Patient Zero also had a lot of appeal for fans of action and adventure or political intrigue. There were a decent amount of political and historical references throughout the book, but not enough to make the text seem obscure. Instead, it was more like a spattering of knowledge about American and Middle Eastern politics that contributed to the overall storyline. 

Joe Ledger was a great protagonist to follow. To put it frankly, he's quite the badass, but he has a lot of vulnerability to him hidden just beneath the surface. The development of Joe and the other characters in Patient Zero ensured that the book wasn't just a macho, kicking-ass-and-taking-names-while-blowing-up-some-zombies book. It wasn't just a bunch of cheap thrills and B-grade horror cliches. There was genuine fear, regret, and grief expressed over the terrible events that were unfolding and the consequences that were incurred as a result. And as much as I love the zombie genre as a whole, I think that failing to realistically represent the human side of the situation is one of its biggest failings. It's also one of the reasons why I love shows like The Walking Dead (sweet baby Jesus I'm ready for some new episodes) and books like this one and Feed by Mira Grant

However, in spite of all its seriousness, Maberry did a good job of providing comic relief in all the right places. One of my favorite instances of this is a quote that I've included below:

"I'm not sure I could trust a man who would bypass an Oreo in favor of vanilla wafers. It's a fundamental character flaw, possibly a sign of true evil" (20, NookBook).  

Overall, I'm glad I had the chance to read Patient Zero, even if it took me so long to do so. I will definitely be continuing the series with The Dragon Factory, which I already have a copy of, thanks to Christy! If you're interested in this kind of book at all, I'd highly recommend giving it a shot!


Not sure about this review? Compare our tastes in books. (Goodreads)


Really liked it


  1. I'm not sure I want to read this series, but I do want to read his YA series. I've heard good things about them. Maybe if I really like those I'll give this series a go too. :) Great review as always Natalie!

    1. I totally understand! Sometimes you're not sure if a book is really going to click with you, and I understand passing on it, especially when you have so many other books on your list! Not that I'm trying to convince you to read this one or anything (I'm not, I swear!), but I have heard this series compared to the show 24 several times. I can't remember for sure, but I thought you were a fan? Anyways, it just came to mind because another blogger mentioned it below. :D

      Thanks for stopping by, darlin'!

    2. You know, it's funny, I do LOVE 24 (although I lost interest after the 5th(?) season, I'm a still a fan), but I don't always like reading in that genre. I dunno why. I don't really think it's because I don't like them, they're just not my favorite and I have SO many other things to read. Heh. But I do want to read Rot & Ruin. :)

  2. Haven't read this one but it's on a long list of zombie books that I still need to read (Warm Bodies, for one!). Love when there's a sense of humor running throughout a creepy book, too.

    1. Warm Bodies is high on my to-read list as well. I've heard so many great things, plus I know I'll want to see the movie, and I'd like to read the book first!

  3. I always recommend this book to fans of the show of 24. I am like, Joe Ledger gets into those type of tough decisions :) I felt this was a nice combo of action/adventure/thriller and scary :)

    1. I haven't watched 24 (yet), but I plan to eventually! It's funny, because I was at physical therapy the other day, and one of the other PTs was making fun of Jack saying that man never runs out of bullets and he NEVER has to pee! I cracked up and thought of you because you had mentioned 24 before! Lol.

      But anyways, I think you're totally right about the right combination of action/adventure/thriller/horror. I'd have to throw characterization in there to. All in all, a good mix! :)

    2. I think you would totally love it! Jack is DA MAN! It was funny but he did finally go to the bathroom the first episode of the last season and his girlfriend got shot. Sometimes for the sake of the country you just got to hold it LOL

  4. I'm so excited to see that you enjoyed this one! I found the first two books in this series at a library sale last year but I haven't gotten around to them yet. I am eager to, though, and I'm happy that Maberry is adding to this series. Despite not having started this series yet, I HAVE read Dead of Night by Maberry and WOW. That is an insanely gripping book, let me tell you! I also want to read the Benny Imura series.

    Basically I think I want to read ALL of this author's zombie books. I just need all of the time to do it! So glad you're finding some time to read. :)

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Asheley! I want to read them all too! And I'm SO glad that you really liked Dead of Night. It's on my to-read list! When you do get around to reading Patient Zero, let me know! I'd love to read your review! :)

  5. YaY! You finished it and enjoyed it! Hope you got your new book. :)

    I can't wait to dive into this book now. Oh and I have to be ashamed now. I would pass an oreo for a vanilla wafer. I'm evil! *cries*

    Yea, you know you sold me into pushing this book higher up the tbr. :)

    1. It's okay, Melissa! Though I would definitely choose an oreo over a vanilla wafer, I always choose vanilla ice cream over chocolate, and to most people, that makes ME evil! Lol.

  6. Thanks for that wonderful review. I'm delighted that you finally read PATIENT ZERO, and that you enjoyed it. I'm currently sitting in a Starbucks working on the sixth Joe Ledger novel. And, a somewhat older and more battered version of Joe Ledger appears in books 3 and 4 of my ROT & RUIN teen series.

    The Ledger series starts off with zombies, but the rest of the series is zombie-free. THE DRAGON FACTORY deals with a modern reboot of the Nazi Master Race program in the hands of cutting-edge geneticists. THE KING OF PLAGUES deals with a secret society using terrorism to destabilize the global economy. ASSASSIN'S CODE pits Ledger against ancient conspiracies involved in the perpetuation of hate crimes (and it has genetically-engineered vampire assassins). EXTINCTION MACHINE (scheduled for March) puts Joe Ledger in the middle of a new global arms race based on technologies recovered from crashed UFOs. It's a fun series to write. Hope you enjoy the rest of Joe's exploits.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jonathan! I'm excited to read the rest of your books! I've added them all to my to-read list, and I hope to begin The Dragon Factory shortly! I've already got one of my friends reading Patient Zero on my recommendation, and I'm hoping to get him hooked on the series as well!

  7. LOL - You did it! Yeah, the quotes in this series is one of my son's favorite things. I can't believe how many he remembers from all the books. And the oreo comment, that's one of his favorites. He even did an English paper on it. :)

    But you need to start reading the Rot & Ruin series too (I know, I know), especially now that you've met Joe. Like Jonathan mentioned above, Joe's in the the last 2. The crossovers he's doing is SO fun!

    1. The Rot and Ruin series is definitely high on my list! I've heard a ton of great things, and (based off of Patient Zero), I really love Jonathan's writing style! I WILL read them...we'll just see how long it take me to do it! Lol.

  8. Natalie, it's been so long since I have visited your blog. OMG, I can't believe I abandoned coming here. I promise to be better from now on :-)

    How funny about your and Christy's bet! That is such a great idea, and I think I might borrow it. My TBR list is insane and I keep adding more books each week. I start reading some and then abandon them for one reason or another. Now I need to ask some of my friends to make that bet with me.

    Patient Zero sounds intriguing. I like good zombie books, and I'm glad you recommend this one. It's hard to find really well-written zombie novels. I just read Jonathan's comment and I'm glad there are more of his books to choose from. Yes, all of them are going on my TBR list, but I will start with Patient Zero.

  9. Yay for finally finishing it! I know what you mean about life just getting in the way of a book, even if the book is quite good. I'm glad this seems like a well-rounded story, zombies included, and I hope to read it some day soon!

    Love that there are some good comedic moments too. That quote you shared is quite amusing!

    I'm also a sucker for books that start with quotes, so yay again for that!


  10. This sounds interesting, glad you enjoyed it.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  11. You are on a roll with all these zombie books right now, Nat!! This one does sound good, maybe I'll give it a go, even though I don't tend to stray from YA these days!

  12. Great review! Haven't read too many zombie books, but love the sound of Joe Ledger and think I need to read this one! Love the quotes too, and agree that anyone who would pick vanilla wafers over oreos is suspect! :)

    Alexia's Books and Such...

  13. I still need to read this but my husband loved it.

    I tweeted you but I'm not sure you saw it. If you wanted to borrow the next book in the series or Dead Night let me know.


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