So despite my love of all things zombie, this was my first foray into Jonathan Maberry! I was actually surprised to find that out, because I thought for sure I had to have read at least one of his books by now. I’ve had a bunch of his stuff on my to-read list for ages. But nope, this is the first, and it was worth the wait.
First of all, let’s be honest – zombie is a genre that is getting done to death right now, right up there with YA dystopian and paranormal romance. As with any genre there are good entries and bad. Fortunately, Dead of Night fell into the former category. And in spite of the zombies, zombies everywhere that are filling the bookshelves (and the movies) it’s still a subject that I love. After all, I’m from Pittsburgh. Home of George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and the Night of the Living Dead franchise. I actually used to work in the mall where the original Dawn of the Dead was shot. So to say that I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for all things zombie would be putting it mildly.
Maberry comes up with some unique and original spins on a genre that’s running out of unique and individual ideas, and that helped quite a lot with getting past the zombie burnout. I really liked his idea of how the epidemic started, as it was like nothing I ever recall seeing done before.
While there’s not a lot of opportunity to get to know most of the characters (which is understandable in a novel like this) we do get to know the main protagonist, Dez, quite well. And while she was certainly interesting, I found her to be almost astonishingly unlikeable. Like, seriously one of the least likeable characters in any book I’ve ever read, ever. And while that was by design, she was still pretty intolerable. She’s supposed to be “damaged” from various experiences in her life but she’s a redonk hosebeast from hell. You really have to like the book in spite of Dez and not because of her (which I did, don’t get me wrong). More likeable are some of the secondary characters like Dez’s partner JT and on-again-off-again boyfriend Billy Trout, who is for some reason madly in crazypants love with Dez even though she is a terrifying bitch who acts as though she’d rather murder him in the face than say hello to him. If I had one wish for the book, I’d have liked to see a little more about the development of that relationship. It’s explained how they met, why they broke up, etc. but it’s hard to understand why a handsome, relatively successful guy like Billy would be pining for such a raging asshat. Granted they are from a small town and the pickings might be slim, and granted Dez was described as being very attractive, but Billy’s self-esteem must have been awfully low or there had to be more to the story. Maybe that’s just me, though, because I’d imagine 99% of the people reading this book are doing so for the zombie face-munching action and not to see why some quality dude is wasting his time on the hot-but-scathing chick.
Dead of Night offers some really scary/tense scenes that had me on the figurative edge of my seat. And I’ll remain spoiler-free but say that I really liked the ending. It went in the direction I was hoping it would go in, so I was all fist pump-y and satisfied. It actually left the door open for a potential sequel but I can’t find any info on whether or not this is going to be series. If GoodReads knows, it’s keeping its secrets. Recommended.