The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

The Dragon FactoryThe Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Detective Ledger?” he said, and held out an ID case. “NSA.”

“How do you spell that?”

Joe Ledger’s back.

In Patient Zero, (SFFaudio review here) he saved the world from a zombie apocalypse and Muslim terrorists. Almost single handed.

How will he do on the island of Dr. Moreau?

In The Dragon Factory Joe is evading government agents trying to shut down the DMS, is the only man alive to have defeated genetically engineered super warriors, and is romancing his beautiful fellow agent Grace Courtland.

And that’s just in the first few chapters.

Once again, Jonathan Maberry weaves a threat we know with a threat from fiction. A mad scientist (Cyrus) is using genetic experiments to mold the world in a way that will have horrific results for the population at large. Did I mention he’s German? And enjoys cloning as a light pastime?

Meanwhile, a pair of amoral, super intelligent, albino twins are mixing and matching genetics to create creatures of myth and monsters from your worst nightmares.

Joe’s got to find and stop all of them before the “Extinction Wave” doomsday program counts down to zero and releases havoc on the world. With a little help from Top, Bunny, Grace, and the enigmatic Mr. Church, of course.

I enjoy the way that Maberry mashes up several genres, with tongue in cheek, and produces a pulp fiction style, action-packed, roller coaster ride that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

This book tells a good portion of the story from the crazed villains’ point of view, to good effect. I really love the dysfunctional family of super-villains where the children have disappointed the father by not having enough “vision” and the kids have giant “daddy” issues.

Maberry also dug just a bit deeper than I expected by contrasting the villainous family with Eighty-Two  the clone who Cyrus loves most but who fails every psych test in being “acceptable” (as his henchman, Otto, puts it). I didn’t initially realize what that meant when filtered through the horrific mindsets of Otto and Cyrus, but the result was a surprise that led to some interesting musing about free will versus evil and nature versus nurture.  It isn’t terribly deep but I still found its inclusion refreshing in a book of this sort.

As in Patient Zero, Ray Porter’s narration was spot on, voicing Joe Ledger as if he were the man himself, with slight variations applied to other characters to make them come alive equally well. I’d rather hear these books narrated than read them myself just for the sheer enjoyment of Porter’s style and emphasis.

Make no mistake, The Dragon Factory is a straight-up thriller without a lot of twists and turns in plot. You read it for the hunt, for the action, for the adventure. You also read it for the twists of humor, the pulp fiction style, and the monsters. Especially for the monsters.

It’s a good time at high speed. What more can you ask?

(This review originally ran at SFFaudio.)

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