AUTHOR INFORMATION: Jonathan Maberry is the multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the Pine Deep Trilogy, the YA novels Rot & Ruin and Dust & Decay, and the Joe Ledger series which was optioned for TV by Sony Pictures. His nonfiction work includes Vampire Universe, The Cryptopedia, and Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead. He also writes for Marvel Comics including The Black Panther, Marvel Zombies Return, DoomWar, and Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher. Upcoming releases include the new Joe Ledger novel, Assassin’s Code.
PLOT SUMMARY: 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 before he can be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang . . . but a bite.
CLASSIFICATION: Dead of Night is a zombie/horror/techno-thriller hybrid that combines the relentless pacing & action of Dean Koontz and James Rollins with the characterization of Stephen King and the gore & terror of George A. Romero and The Walking Dead.
FORMAT/INFO: Dead of Night is 368 pages long divided over 105 chapters, which 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 & 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 HERE), 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...
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 & 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 Jonathan Maberry’s skillful writing. Pacing for instance, is breathtaking, which, 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 & 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...