Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Joe Ledger has just came face to face with a guy he knew he had killed a few days ago.  How can this be?  There has to be something going on that Joe doesn’t know about.  That something would be a new biological weapon that is suspected of being released in the next few days: Zombies.

In the novel Patient Zero, by Jonathan Maberry, zombies take on a whole new meaning.  Weapons to be used by suspected terrorPatient Zero, a Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberryists as well as by a pharmaceutical giant.  Joe Ledger is the man who is asked to lead the fight against the zombies and help find out who is making ththe-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-buttonem and where they are coming from.  Joe is a Detective for the Baltimore police and has a military background as well as excellent fighting skills and an ability to think while the action is erupting right in front of his face.

I have to admit that I went into reading this book thinking it was about something else.  I read a synopsis of the book but it was very short and didn’t offer much in the way of details.  When I realized the book was more of a thriller/suspense one that was focused on Joe Ledger, I was surprised and had to think of this book in a new way.  Not to say the book was bad – it wasn’t – just that it wasn’t what I thought and had to adjust my thinking.

Joe is a man’s man but has a soft, decent side to him.  Joe is recruited to work with the DMS – Department of Military Science – a top-secret agency that has technology no one else has even heard of or seen.  The DMS is also able to act with impunity and has a direct line to the president.  Ledger is thrown into action quickly with no time to get to know his team or with the needed knowledge of what is really going on.  His good friend and psychologist, Rudy, is unexpectedly thrown into action with the DMS as well.  The zombies Joe and the DMS face are ones that are made – not quite the risen dead, rather a manufactured virus that they come to face in various stages of speed and viciousness. The brains behind the zombies think no one will ever find out who they are.  A brilliant but egotistical scientist is on the bad side.  The bad guys use terrorists to their advantage as well.

The pace of this book was good, not too fast and not too slow.  This is definitely an action type book and I can see this easily being made into a movie.  The ending chapters got a little bit too winded and long for me.  They seemed too much like a long drawn out action scene that is in need of some editing.  There was a tinge of too much macho-ness for me as well but I still enjoyed this book. The main character is a likable enough guy and the surrounding cast is interesting and doesn’t slow the pace.  Maberry has a full Joe Ledger series as well as a follow-up to Patient Zero that I’d be interested in checking out.  I’d say this is a fun book to read and not take too seriously.  I liked the zombies as a bio-weapon aspect, which made the book seem slightly different from a typical thriller/suspense novel.  Overall a good book that is enjoyable and a fun read.

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In The Flesh – Season Two

You ask “another zombie themed show, why watch it?”  I say it’s an engrossing show that is more about the person than the zombie.  It’s about the struggle we all go through for acceptance and that of loneliness,  the desire for the former and the need to not be the latter.  BBC America aired the second season of In the Flesh this past weekend and, as I’ve come to expect from BBCA, this program does not disappoint (spoilers from season one are included below)

In the Flesh aired last year as a three episode mini series.  It was an excellent series and I was surprised and happy when I heard a follow-up season would air.  In the Flesh is about Kieren Walker who suffers from PDS – partially deceased syndrome (clever name for a zombie) who is living his life as a zombie living with his parents and his younger sister in a place named Roarton.  Season one was all about Kieren coming back home, adjusting to the realization of his new life, the struggle for acceptance of who he is (in more than just the physical sense), and the struggle to combat loneliness.

One thing I love about BBC America dramas is their ability to project so much emotion with so little.  Dramas on BBCA do a spectacular job of making you feel what the character is feeling.  It’s so easy to connect with the person and relate to them on every level.  They do this in simple ways, sometimes by just showing a person’s look combined with the right music, sometimes by only showing a solitary image of a seemingly unrelated object.  It provides the right mood and allows you to think like the character.  And this was just with a three episode series from last year!

Kieren’s struggle as a human were still there now that he’s a PDS suffer (or “rotter” as the humans refer to them).  Kieren became a zombie by killing himself after his best mate was killed in Afghanistan.  Kieren had wanted to be cremated but his parents couldn’t go through with it and buried him instead, another thing that Kieren has to struggle to deal with.  Once Kieren has gone through all the required acclimatization’s, he is released to live with his family, which isn’t too easy since his sister Jem is part of the  Human Volunteer Force (HVF) whose goal is to protect humans from the rotters, at whatever cost.

Other main topics from the first season was the reveal of Kieren and his best friend being gay and the fact they hid that from everyone they knew.  Something they continued to hide even after rising from the dead.  Kieren’s relationship with his family was another issue.  His sister saw him and his zombie friend Amy, almost shooting him, chowing down on some brains before they were given the drugs to make them seem human again.  Kieren’s relationship with his parents evolved by his dad opening up and telling his son he cared about him regardless of who he loved or what he was (a zombie).

The second season continues with the themes of acceptance and loneliness.   The Undead Liberation Army is not helping things by killing humans as a form of terrorism, while the humans are gaining government power through the Pro-Living Party via Victus.  Kieren wants nothing more than to escape to Paris, where the reanimated are more accepted as a part of society.   Kieren is a good guy and I hope things don’t go badly for him.  In the Flesh is another stellar program from BBC America.  If you’re up for a slightly different take on the zombie theme, give this show a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Zombies, Government Conspiracies, and Blogging

Three big topics – zombies, government conspiracies, and blogging – are all combined in The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant.  All three make for great topics and putting all three into a series ends up in a fun read and a new way to tell a story.

Georgia Mason and her brother Shaun Mason are bloggers in the post rising world, are dedicated to telling the true story, and making sure they don’t disappoint their readers.  In 2014 the common cold and cancer were cured.  Those cures created a worse alternative – zombies.  20 years after the cure and the subsequent rising, Georgia (a/k/a George) and Shaun run a blog where they report on zombies and life around them.  George is a “newsie” – someone who tells the stories, making sure all the facts are correct before getting the word out and Shaun is an “Irwin” – those who are field reporters (for lack of a better term) and post videos of their encounters with the zombies.  There are also fictionals – those who write about the world around them but put a fictional spin to it.  George and Shaun, along with their blog team site, get their dream job: covering the next presidential election.  Along the way, they encounter terrible tragedy and realize they can’t trust the people they thought they could.

This series is put in the zombie category but the zombies really serve as the background and back-story to the books – Feed, Deadline, and Blackout.  The main story is the government conspiracy.  What I liked best about this series was the characters were bloggers.  Each chapter had about two posts from one of the characters which gave the reader more of a sense of what the post rising world was like and what the readers of the blogs would see.  The books were told at a fast pace and I thought the blogging aspect was a new and different twist.

Mira Grant isn’t afraid to shock the reader with some of the things that play out.  I don’t want to say too much since it would give away major plots lines, but it was enjoyable to read and be surprised at some of the situations that occur.  The third book gets a bit convoluted towards the end with the conspiracy and does feel a bit rushed, but ends by tying up the story in a decent way.

The background of how the rising started gets a bit technical with the writer explaining throughout the three books how it all happened.  If your looking for a book series that is a good thriller, has zombies as a decent supporting cast, and want a dose of government untrustworthy-ness tossed in, I recommend this series.

Apocalypse Cow – Book Review (zombie cows?)

After the beautifully sad, yet hopeful The Book ThiefI wanted to read something that was a little lighterApocalypse Cow  by Michael Logan fit that need.  The name of this book is just ridiculous and yet it was the name that drew me in.  The fact that it was about zombie cows sold it.  Animals typically aren’t portrayed as zombies, so I found this book to be a slight alternative to the regular zombie books out there.

It all starts with scientists that aren’t exactly thinking of doing science for the good of mankind.  They create an experimental bio-weapon that is only transferable between animals, but not birds.  The bio-weapon, however, doesn’t work quite as planned, instead turning animals into “zombies.”  Sadly, the hope of the nation – Scotland and eventually England – lies with three unlikely heroes:  Lesley, a sad excuse of a journalist, Geldof, a teenager whose hippie mom is blind to her son being allergic to the hemp clothing she makes him wear, and Terry, a slaughterhouse worker who is an almost recluse due to the death stench that clings to him.

These three heroes come together due to a loose “family” relationship between Terry and Geldof.  After some tragic and somewhat humorous deaths, Terry, Geldof, and Lesley must find a way to get the story out about the origins of the bio-weapon.  Which proves rather difficult given the number of animals running around Scotland doing their best to kill every human.  And, oh yea, the heroes are also being pursed by the government lab that is trying to keep the story of the bio-weapon under wraps.

There are some gruesome descriptions in the book – more dealing with the slaughterhouse than the zombie animals.  I found myself cringing a few times and really wanting to become the vegetarian I secretly want to be.  I liked the idea of animal zombies since I’ve never really seen anyone take that approach before.  I wouldn’t say I loved it – seemed like there was just something missing – but did enjoy the different storyline.  Overall, this is about the ability of humans to come together and save the world from the cow apocalypse.

A night with The Walking Dead

Last night I went to An Evening with the Cast and Crew from The Walking Dead.  Norman Reedus (Darryl), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), and Greg Nicotero (a producer) were there to talk about the show and fielded a few question from the audience sent ahead of time.  Needless to say, being a fan of The Walking Dead, I throughly enjoyed seeing these four last night.  As a fan located in the midwest opportunities to see actors or crew from a favorite show don’t come around too often.  Being able to hear the passion that these people have for the show was insightful – makes the work they do on the show all that more real since you can tell they are invested in the work they do.

The most enjoyable part for me was hearing Steven Yeun talk about finding a tick on his man parts while they were filming the farm scenes.  A somewhat traumatic experience for him and told in a very funny and entertaining way to the audience.  I took pictures but only had my cell phone and the photos aren’t the best (not worth sharing, should have brought my camera).  Unfortunately, I didn’t submit a question beforehand – couldn’t think of one – but thought of one this morning that I would have liked to ask:  What is the best thing about living in the Zombie apocalypse?  There’s gotta be at least one good thing about living with all those zombies, right?  Why else fight so hard to stay alive all the time.  I think no taxes would be a big plus.

So, looking forward to tonight’s episode of TWD with a renewed appreciation for the cast and crew.  It was obvious from last night that they enjoy their jobs and appreciate the fans.  Oh, and one more thing: Greg Nicotero said that on the Southwest flight from Kansas City to Milwaukee, Norman Reedus signed one of those flyers you see in the backs of the seats and stuck it back into the seat back.  So, if you happen to be on a Southwest flight, take a moment to look at the items in the seatback, you might get lucky and find something signed by Darryl!

Eight week reading challenge – Day Four

Day four – one book down, seven to go.  Just completed World War Z by Max Brooks.  A surprisingly compelling read with interviews from the survivors of the Zombie war, World War Z is a telling of how the world managed to beat the ever-growing zombie hoards  Somewhat disturbing to think what has to be done to many in order for more to survive.  If you are a fan of zombies, this is a book you must read.  Will be interesting to see how the movie turns out.

So, big question is: what book do I read next?  Strategic planning is paramount to my success in this eight week challenge.  Choosing to read the wrong book at the wrong time could spell doom and set me up to fail.  I’m drawn to each book, but which is the right choice to read now?  I think I’ll go with the YA novel by Heather Brewer – Second Chance (The Slayer Chronicles).  Reason behind this selection is simple: ease of reading.  I throughly enjoyed the author’s first series Vladimir Tod and read the first book of this Slayer series in one day.  Not to say that “ease” equals a lightweight book – sometimes simple means pure enjoyment, which is what I’m hoping for in my second selection in the eight week challenge.

Hopefully selection two will be enjoyable and moves me along to book three in just a few days.  Happy reading to all and hope anyone else working on their own challenge plots a successful strategy as well!

Woodbury is Scary

Rather than post a review of another great episode of Sunday’s The Walking Dead, I’m just going to state my theory on something: The Governor seemed a bit obsessed with Milton’s tea.  My theory is that Milton and the Gov are doing something to the tea with those floating heads in the Gov’s secret room.  Maybe trying to come up with a way to fight off zombieism by ingesting zombie fluids?  Kind of like the antivenom for a snake bite is venom.  Just a thought.  The Gov was so appreciative of Milton’s tea and he also looked at Andrea a bit oddly when she took a sip.  Most likely it’s absolutely nothing, but, a thought none the less.

Hope everyone else is enjoying this season of The Walking Dead as much as I am.  They came out swinging and haven’t stopped, even in an episode that didn’t feature the Grimes gang.