Book Review: The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

Hi all…

Last year, I had the pleasure of reading Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, which took the concept of a zombie plague and put it in the hands of a group of terrorists. Joe Ledger was the hero recruited to take on the shambling, infected dead and find a way to stop them as part of the Department of Military Sciences (DMS) – a super-secret group of highly-trained and resourceful individuals tasked to take out the threats the normal police or military forces of the United States can’t handle.

Now Maberry has managed to take evil to a whole new level with The Dragon Factory. Not only does the terror fit in a timebox of one week, it merges cutting-edge genetics and biological science with the eugenics goal of the Nazis of World War II as they strived to create a “master race”.

Consider what would happen if the cloning experiments described in Ira Levin‘s The Boys from Brazil had the technological tools and expertise of today. Now multiply that by a factor of 1000. As the novel progresses, the depths of depravity and layers of pure evil reveal themselves to be imaginative, inspiring, and horrific all at the same time.

On one side you have the beautiful Jakoby Twins – brilliant, elusive, perfect albino twins engaged in creating genetic mash-ups of existing creatures to form monsters and mercenaries capable of wanton destruction at the drop of a hat. On the other side, you have their father – Cyrus Jakoby – striving to not only create the Nazi Master Race, but rid the world of impurities as Adolph Hitler began to do during his reign of terror.

Between those two factions we find a race against a doomsday clock (called the “Extinction Clock”) nobody knows about until it’s almost too late and Joe Ledger and his friends fight against the odds to save the world from the depths of depravity and madness. Ledger fights the evil on his own terms – but is the sacrifice too high this time?

Honestly, I love it when novels manage to work in not only artifacts of the present, but the echoes of history that are far too often forgotten. Maberry does both in spades while putting you on a heck of a rollercoaster ride. And don’t worry – there’s lots of gunfire, knife fights, and grenades to go around.

Though there is some serious science embedded in the pages of The Dragon Factory, I never found myself bogged down anywhere. His explanations were simple enough to keep the plot moving and the action hardly ever let up. Even the occasional love scene rarely slowed the novel’s pace. Merging the dangers of genetic and biological manipulation with the unfathomable evil of the plans for the Nazi Master Race was a brilliant yet terrifying reminder that humankind is capable of truly beautiful and horrible things.

Maberry has written multiple novels, magazine articles, and plays while also teaching writing. I don’t know where he finds all the time. His novels include Ghost Road Blues, which won the Stoker Award for Best First Novel in 2006, Dead Man’s Song, Bad Moon Rising, and Patient Zero, which was recently optioned for television. And when he’s not writing novels, he writes for several Marvel comics, including The Black Panther and other heroes including Wolverine, Spider-Man, The Punisher, and others.

If you like fast, intelligent action thrillers, I can highly recommend Jonathan Maberry’s The Dragon Factory to be on your list of books to read. And if you haven’t read Patient Zero, I’d encourage you to pick that up as well. They’re both fast reads with some serious crunch. I can hardly wait to see what’s next for Joe Ledger – and I’d love to see Patient Zero done well on television!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up The Dragon Factory and other Jonathan Maberry books at Amazon:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

DVD Review: Dead Snow

Hi all!

It’s not a secret. I like zombies. Maybe not if one tried to gnaw on me like a piece of fried chicken, but I like stories about zombies whether they’re on TV, in print, or on the big screen. So when I heard about Dead Snow last year after Sundance, I knew it had to go on my “To See” list. It finally comes to DVD on February 23, 2010 and I got a sneak peek!

What’s it about? Take one part traditional horror plot with teenagers or 20-somethings, add a vacation cabin in the Norweigian Alps, and… Nazi zombies? Really!? Yes, Nazi zombies. And these guys aren’t messing around…

As the movie starts, we see a girl running through the trees and snow being chased by something or several somethings. It’s not clear what the “somethings” are, but you know they can’t be good. The music used for the opening sequence was an inspired choice and I only wish I knew what it was, but I can’t seem to find the soundtrack anywhere. We’re then introduced to the
beautiful people – four guys and three girls – heading up into the Alps for some skiing, snowmobiling, and fun. And yes, there’s a girl missing – one of the guys’ girlfriends was meeting them up there.

Everything is happy and cheerful until the obligatory weird local guy comes to the door in the middle of the night one night and regales them with stories of the Nazis and locals who had clashed 60 years before. During World War II, a Nazi company occupying the area were driven deep into the mountains and presumed to have frozen to death. He even has the gall to complain about the coffee he’s given as a guest. Once he leaves, everything gets rolling pretty quickly.

Honestly, I think this zombie movie has everything I could have wanted in a horror movie. Cute girls, humor, a bit of T&A, and zombies with a lot of personality. It even includes a zombie attack in the outhouse. Not only is it a gory, bloody mess, but it pays homage to some of the great horror movies of the past, including two of my favorites – Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. When I saw the chainsaw come out of the shed, I burst out laughing.

Let’s talk about the zombies a bit. These aren’t your usual slow, brainless variety. For 60+ year old zombies, these guys are darn fast. The makeup artist did an amazing job providing unique faces for each zombie and I felt like each zombie actor provided a bit of personality to their characters which was awesome.

If you’re not into blood and guts, I would recommend staying away from Dead Snow. But I was constantly amazed at the variety of ways that zombies and campers could be killed or mutilated. Until this movie, I have never seen a man’s head get ripped apart. In one scene, they actually had a girl awake as a group of zombies pulled out her intestines. Fake blood was used aplenty in this film, liberally splattered across the landscape and the actors.

Also, I have to say that the subtitles didn’t detract from the film at all for me. Usually the actors weren’t talking during the fiercest action scenes, so you weren’t constantly bobbing your head up and down as you tried to keep track of what they were saying and what was happening on screen.

In my new order of zombie favorites, I’ll have to put Dead Snow in my top 5, along with Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Resident Evil, and Army of Darkness. Be sure to check it out at your favorite retailer or rental store when it hit shelves February 23!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these monsters at Amazon!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Book Review: The Atlantis Revelation by Thomas Greanias

Unfamiliar with Thomas Greanias‘ work, I decided to dive into his latest book – The Atlantis Revelation. The combination of Atlantis and Nazi schemes was enough to tickle my fancy, exploring the fantastic world of archaeologist Conrad Yeats. The book turned out to be a bit like National Treasure with a bit of The Da Vinci Code and James Bond thrown in for good measure.

The book opens with Yeats diving in the wreckage of the legendary Nazi submarine, Nausicaa, deep in the Mediterranean ocean. Nausicaa was once captained by SS General Ludwig von Berg, also known as the Baron of the Black Order, the leader of Hitler’s Ahnenerbe – a group dedicated to proving that the Aryans were the descendants of Atlantis. The Baron had found some kind of Atlantean artifact and it had gone down when the submarine was sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1943.

Yeats soon discovered that it was the Flammenschwert or “Sword of Fire” – some kind of torpedo or bomb based on Atlantean technology? He had little time to find out however, as he was attacked in what I can only describe as a Thunderball-like (thank you Ian Fleming) underwater scuba battle by men also after the Baron’s treasure. As his attackers left him stuck in the Nausicaa, he had to wonder what he’d gotten himself into this time.

This was only the beginning of an adventure that spans the globe as Yeats puts the pieces together pitting him against Sir Roman Midas, Russian orphan turned British mining tycoon and mastermind behind what could become a global oil crisis. Along the way, Yeats works again with Sister Serena Serghetti from the Vatican, whom he had a previous relationship with. And it ends in a chase under the Temple Mount to stop a group intent on starting a world war.

Yeats seems to have a knack for surviving impossible situations and coming out on top or knowing who to contact when he gets into a bind, which got a bit tiring after a while. The jet-setting lifestyle and multiple talents of our erstwhile archaeologist made James Bond seem like an amateur while channeling a bit of Indiana Jones. But other than that it was fun to see how all the threads wove together.

The Atlantis Revelation was a very quick read and kept me entertained all the way through to the end. I’m always intrigued when writers work Nazis into the equation, as with The Boys from Brazil from Ira Levin and the Indiana Jones franchise. And add in the Atlantis side of things and I have to say it’s a great combination.

If you like quick, fun thrillers, The Atlantis Revelation by Thomas Greanias should be on your reading list. Check it out at your favorite library or bookstore!

–Fitz

p.s. Look for these books at Amazon!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]