I started and finished Patient Zero (Horror 421 pages) by Jonathan Maberry yesterday. This is the assigned reading for the SHU MA program in Writing Popular Fiction for January 2011. It’s also the first assigned reading for this program that I have absolutely loved.
This book was fantastic. The pacing was great, the characters were worth cheering for, and the story was something very, very terrifying.
The story starts off with instant conflict, and it’s a life-or-death kind of conflict that grips you right from the start. I mean, the first chapter is only 33 words and I was instantly hooked.
One of the key things that I’m taking out of this story is that it was written in the style that I’m currently using for Accept Fire and Blood. Most of the story is written in first person POV, but there are key plot-moving sections done in the third person POV. The good guy is all in 1st person and the bad guys are all in 3rd person. This is the exact same thing I was attempting to do with Accept Fire and Blood, only Maberry clearly pulls it off very, very well.
I also liked how there were multiple elements from multiple different genres. This book wasn’t just a first person shooter who goes around killing zombies. There was a little bit of the hopeful-romantic element in Joe’s relations with Grace; a little bit of the mystery element in trying to figure out who exactly is pulling all the strings and what the entire big picture catastrophe is; a lot of the thriller aspect as the subject matter for chasing down terrorists with sophisticated technology; fascinating suspense stuff with the mole inside the operation; a touch of the science fiction side of the house by using lots of … well, science; and a good touch of the horror element with zombies.
This is one of those books that moved so well and so seamlessly that I got disgruntled every time I was interrupted while reading it. The tension and action built constantly throughout the story and even though I was a little confused by the chapters in the beginning going back and forth between 27 June and six days ago. Then everything caught up and I decided that I actually liked the way that was done. It helped to prevent a massive info-dump.
The book also uses a lot of dialog to show what’s going on and to give readers the information we need to figure out what’s going on. This is another of those things I need to get much, much better on.
I did find it funny that Joe sits down and reads a David Morrell book at one time, since David Morrell was our guest speaker this past residency at SHU.
Overall, this book was fantastic and I’m glad I own it, as I will most assuredly read it again.
Works cited: Maberry, Jonathan. Patient Zero. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009.