I am usually not one for Zombie novels. Quite frankly, I can only handle Zombies for a short period of time. Night after night after night is too much for me to handle (I am really, really scared of Zombies.) As I suspected, I had nightmares EVERY night I was reading Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel by Bram Stoker Award winning author Jonathan Maberry.
Don't let the fact that I dreaded nightfall make you think I didn't love this book. I love anything that gives me nightmares! I will admit to only reading a few pages at a time. It was all I could handle. The sense of dread in Dead of Night is overwhelming.
If you decided to read Dead of Night, and I think you should, familiarize yourself with T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men. A hollow man is how the first zombie we meet describes himself. Yes, in this novel Zombies, well, at least two of them, have a consciousness. In the case of Doc. Hartnup, our intro Zombie, he is aware of his actions, but completely unable to control them. His body, so to speak, has a mind of it's own. The only thing on it's mind is eating. The only thing on Doc's mind is the hope that one of the few humans left will shoot him in the head and put him out of his misery. I believe the Doc's journey is the most heart wrenching in the novel.
But how did Doc get to this sorry state? Maberry has an explanation: Ex-Nazi CIA Stooge Doctor hell bent on revenge! This Doctor decided to inject condemned killer Homer Gibbon with a bit of biological warfare: a virus that keeps the mind alive while the body rots. When Gibbon gets out in the open, all hell breaks loose. Fighting the onslaught are good cops J.T. and Dez Fox. Dez is one of the best female characters I have encountered in a long time. She is a total mess but dedicated to her job and trying to do the right thing (like me!). It doesn't help that Dez's ex, a reporter named Trout, is also on the scene, trying to break the story that the Government will go to any lengths to keep quiet.
Dead of Night shifts POV from Dez to Trout on one end, to Homer and Doc Hartnup on the other. It is an effective tool that lets us sympathize with every character, even the detestable Homer. There is plenty of gore and action in Dead of Night, and the fresher the Zombie, the faster. I am all about the siege in Zombie stories, but in Dead of Night I found the quest to stay alive out in the open the most harrowing. The action takes place in a small town, and around every corner our heroes face friends and family who have turned. Around every corner our hollow man, Doc, faces another friend he will destroy.
Maberry leaves the ending open for a sequel, although this works really well as a stand alone. I will revisit this world if I must, but this time I might try to get the book over in a night. I don't know if my Husband will stand for another two weeks of me getting up in the middle of the night to check the locks and board the windows.