The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry
Time to sneak in just one more review before Zombie Appreciation Month begins.
After reading Patient Zero I was very keen to read more of Jonathan Maberry’s work. I really liked his idea of terrorists creating a pathogen that reanimates the dead and using them as a bio-weapon. Patient Zero whips along at a breakneck pace and I found the writing superb.
In its sequel, The Dragon Factory, Joe Ledger and Echo team are back. However, no zombies this time out. Instead, the team are in a race against time to stop a maniacal billionaire geneticist who has plans to reinvent the human race. He has put together a globe spanning scheme called the Extinction Wave that targets only certain genetic groups.
When the story begins, none of Department of Military Science are aware of what’s going on. For a sizeable chunk of the novel they are largely ignorant of the scale of the threat they are facing. The characters were left fumbling around in the dark, and playing catch up all the way through, which adds some additional tension for the reader.
The billionaire, Cyrus Jakoby, makes a compelling villain. He is entirely single minded and the absolute embodiment of evil. I particularly enjoyed how Maberry interwove his back story around real world events. The origins of his plan dates back to the rise of the Nazis and World War II, and as his story develops the details of how he his tried to change the face of the world before begins to emerge.
Jakoby’s children, Paris and Hecate, also play a part in his grand scheme. As his children have grown, they have been treated by their father as ‘young gods’. They are the ideal he strives toward and this has made them just as twisted as he. His daughter, Hecate, ends up experimenting on herself in order to achieve her own take on perfection.
The controversial subject of human cloning is also touched upon and there is a nod towards the nature vs nurture debate. Jakoby and family also use their skill in genetic manipulation to create mythical beasts that they sell or hunt for profit.
Once again Maberry has delivered a tight, action packed story. There is an incident toward the end of the novel that will, without a doubt, completely change the motivations of Joe Ledger in the future. I look forward to seeing how the fallout from this will affect Joe and in turn, the rest of the team. It was also nice to see more small hints being dropped regarding the origins of the ever mysterious Mr Church, but he remains as much an enigma as he was in the first novel. I was slightly dubious of this approach in Patient Zero, but after completing The Dragon Factory I am keen to learn everything about him. Again I felt that the rest of Echo Team could have had a bit more screen time. They sound like potentially fascinating characters and I want to know their back stories and motivations.
As an aside, Maberry deserves an award for successfully grossing me out. His detailed description of how a genetically enhanced super-solider ripped the arms off an enemy and then beat them to death with their own appendages is very graphic, but also darkly funny.
This book is epic in scale and the locations used remind me of a Bond film, a character even remarks on the fact. I fully expected to see on the last page – JOE LEDGER WILL RETURN…..
When the next book is published I certainly will.