Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel, by Jonathan Maberry
This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite.
Audiobook: 13 hrs and 49 mins
Narrated by: William Dufris
First published: October 25th 2011
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. (Goodreads)
I was in the mood for a zombie novel lately. The last (good) one I read had been Max Brooks’s World War Z, and I thought it was time for some more zombie fun. I kept hearing a lot of good stuff about Jonathan Maberry’s Patient Zero, but since that novel is apparently part of a series, and I didn’t know if I would like Maberry’s books enough to commit to reading a whole series, I thought I should give one of his stand-alone novels a try first. I am now positive that I will definitely read more of his works in the future, because Dead of Night is awesome!
Dead of Night has pretty much everything a zombie book needs. Hoards of zombies, lots of gore and brutality, the struggle of the desperate few and heroic acts of valor, all flowing smoothly because of good writing and the quick pace Maberry establishes right from the beginning. The multiple POV characters go a long way towards showing the reader all facets of the unfolding drama, from the small-town officers that have to deal with the initial outbreak, to the National Guardsmen deployed to contain the infection (by any means necessary), all the way up to the President and, through a very clever back story, all the way down to the lowly zombie. Sure, the book is formulaic and every element in it has been done before, but Dead of Night stirs everything up in what feels like a very original mix, and I enjoyed it very much.
Every zombie story has to tackle one important aspect at one point or another in the narrative: the origins of the zombies. One of the most common causes of “zombiefication” in popular culture has been the viral infection. Be it a variant of the rabies virus, a vaccine that was supposed to cure cancer or biological warfare gone wrong, the story of “patient zero” is a prominent feature of zombie works, and such is the case with Dead of Night too. Maberry takes this common theme and goes further with it, spending a lot of time in building a believable and very interesting back story for the zombie virus, to the point where it actually starts to make some sense, especially to a non-medical person, and I greatly appreciated Maberry’s thoroughness in this regard.
The book ends very suddenly. I remember looking at my MP3 player (by the way, if you’re looking for a cheap, small MP3 player with support for Audible audiobooks, I use a Philips GoGear Spark), noticing that there were only fifteen minutes left and thinking that something must be wrong, no way could the story end right then and there. Well, it could. While this doesn’t rob the book of any of its charm, I would have really liked a follow-up to the book’s cliffhanger conclusion.
I don’t know if this is because zombies are one of my favorite subjects or not, but I thought Dead of Night (4.5/5) was great. It was a very fun book to listen to, and a worthy addition to the zombie canon.