Dead of Night: One of the best zombie novels I’ve ever read

Jonathan Maberry Dead of Night: A Zombie NovelDead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

CLASSIFICATION: Dead of Night is a zombie/horror/techno-thriller hybrid that combines the relentless pacing and action of Dean Koontz and James Rollins with the characterization of Stephen King and the gore and terror of George A. Romero and The Walking Dead.

FORMAT/INFO: Dead of Night is 368 pages long divided over 105 chapters, with each chapter denoted by location. Narration is in the third-person via numerous POVs, but mainly follows two characters in Officer Dez Fox and reporter Billy Trout. Dead of Night is described as a standalone novel, but the ending leaves room for an obvious sequel or two. October 25, 2011 marks the North American Hardcover and Trade Paperback publication of Dead of Night via St. Martin’s Griffin.

ANALYSIS: When it comes to zombie literature, Jonathan Maberry boasts an impressive résumé which includes the Marvel Zombies Return comic book series, the awesome Joe Ledger thriller Patient Zero (reviewed above), a couple of YA novels in Rot & Ruin and Dust & Decay, short stories that have appeared in such anthologies as The Living Dead 2 and The New Dead (reviewed HERE), and the nonfiction book Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead. Thanks to the author’s latest zombie offering, Dead of Night, that résumé has become significantly stronger…

Fall of Night: A Zombie Novel (Dead of Night Series Book 2) Kindle Edition by Jonathan Maberry

Sequel

Creatively, Dead of Night is a familiar setup with a small American town the site of a zombie outbreak, which starts off as a series of violent, unexplainable murders before escalating into a widespread massacre requiring military intervention, containment and other drastic measures. Maberry spices things up with a serial killer, a mad scientist, zombies with trapped awarenesses and a hurricane, while the parasitic nature of the virus offers creative and logical explanations for how the dead can walk again, their insatiable hunger, and an infected’s weak spots — the motor cortex or brain stem — but for the most part, Dead of Night is a textbook zombie tale.

What makes Dead of Night so special is Maberry’s skillful writing. Pacing, for instance, is breathtaking, and combined with the author’s vivid prose and cinematic-like storytelling, makes it feel like you’re watching a big-budget Hollywood movie rather than reading a novel. Characters are recognizable stereotypes — Dez Fox is a tough-as-nails cop suffering from abandonment issues, Billy Trout is a reporter looking for his big break, Dr. Herman Volker is a brilliant scientist driven by revenge, Homer Gibbon is a deranged serial killer, and so on — but they are believable characters, supported by realistic dialogue, personalities and baggage. In the case of Dez and Billy, Maberry has created a couple of sympathetic protagonists that readers can really root for, even as impossible as their situation might be.

Pop culture references meanwhile, are up-to-date and relevant with social networking (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter) and viral marketing playing an important role in the plot. Finally, even though Dead of Night features plenty of nail-biting tension, gore and heart-stopping scares, Jonathan Maberry does a fantastic job of balancing out the novel’s horror elements with moments that are thought-provoking and emotionally heartbreaking, which really shows off the author’s skill and versatility.

Negatively, an ending that leaves the reader hanging and an overall lack of closure is a minor issue, but only if the author doesn’t produce a sequel. Apart from this, Dead of Night is the total package. We’re talking accomplished writing, terrific characters, a story that is enormously entertaining, pulse-pounding zombie action, the works. In short, Jonathan Maberry’s Dead of Night is a tour de force and one of the best zombie novels I have ever read.

Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel — (2011) Publisher: A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang… but a bite.

Joe Ledger — (2009- ) Publisher: ‘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. And there’s nothing wrong with my skills.’ Police officer Joe Ledger, martial arts expert, ex-army, self-confessed brutal warrior is scared. The man he’s just killed is the same man he killed a week ago. He never expected to see the man again, definitely not alive, and definitely not as part of the recruitment process for the hyper-secret government agency the Department for Military Sciences. But the DMS are scared too — they have word of a terrorist plot straight from a nightmare — a bid to spread a plague through America — a plague that kills its victims and turns them into zombies. Time is running out and Joe has shown he has the abilities they need to lead one of their field teams. And so begins a desperate three mission — to contain the zombie outbreaks, to break the terrorist cell responsible and to find the man in their own team who is selling them out to the terrorists. Patient Zero is astonishingly fast moving, incredibly violent and down-right terrifying thriller — a new breed of thriller of techo-thriller that plays on our fears of mad science.

Jonathan Maberry 1. Patient Zero, 2. The Dragon Factory, 3. The King of PlaguesJonathan Maberry 1. Patient Zero, 2. The Dragon Factory, 3. The King of PlaguesJonathan Maberry 1. Patient Zero, 2. The Dragon Factory, 3. The King of PlaguesJonathan Maberry 1. Patient Zero, 2. The Dragon Factory, 3. The King of Plagues 4. Assassin's Codefantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsDogs of War: A Joe Ledger Novel Kindle Edition by Jonathan Maberry

Joe Ledger Short Stories:

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See more stories in this series at Amazon.


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ROBERT THOMPSON (on FanLit's staff July 2009 — October 2011) is the creator and former editor of Fantasy Book Critic, a website dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction. Before FBC, he worked in the music industry editing Kings of A&R and as an A&R scout for Warner Bros. Besides reading and music, Robert also loves video games, football, and art. He lives in the state of Washington with his wife Annie and their children Zane and Kayla. Robert retired from FanLit in October 2011 after more than 2 years of service. He doesn't do much reviewing anymore, but he still does a little work for us behind the scenes.

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