Wow. It’s true. I mean, I always knew it, but it’s an entirely different thing to come face to face with something you know like this. It is possible for a book to be a really good, well-written, action-packed book and to still not be the right book for me. That would be Patient Zero, by Jonathan Maberry.
Here’s the thing. I really wanted to like this book. I know Jonathan. I’ve run into him at several writer’s events around Philadelphia. (Although sadly, he’s just moved to San Diego! Oh horror!) He’s one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s a bear of a man, but he has a ready smile and an infectious sense of humor (there’s a joke in there if you’ve read his zombie books an know what causes zombies). He will be the first person to help any aspiring writer in their career. Few published authors that I’ve come across are more enthusiastic about writing and about helping anyone who wants to become a writer.
I didn’t like his book. It’s a crying shame too. I wanted to like it, but zombie violence and detailed description of military tactics and weapons just aren’t for me.
That’s the point though. Patient Zero is a very good book in terms of crafting, voice, characters, all that stuff. And if you like zombie violence and detailed descriptions of military tactics and weapons, by all means, go out and read this book right now! You will probably love it. All of those things are handled with such expertise and care that it I’m sure this is a thriller-lover’s dream come true!
Yeah, I’m not a thriller-lover. Never did take to the genre. I’ll stick to my romance novels and character-driven sci-fi dystopian stuff.
But the savvy amongst you might notice that Patient Zero is book #20 of 2013, whereas Catching Fire and Mockingjay, which I talked about last week, were #21 & #22. What? I’m book-reporting out of order? Yes. And the reason why is because I tried really hard to finish Patient Zero, but in the end I just couldn’t.
Here is the lesson in my little experiment in genre-hopping. Sometimes you just aren’t the audience for a certain book. It doesn’t matter how amazing the book is, if it doesn’t touch your soul, you’re not going to like it. There is such a thing as the no-harm-no-foul-but-I-still-couldn’t-finish-it book.
And, I might add, this works both ways. One of the guys on my cricket team kept insisting that he wanted to support me by reading my books. I told him that they were romance novels, but he still wanted to read one. Well, a few weeks later he admitted that he had read one with the sort of look in his eyes that said he didn’t like it. To which I grinned and said, “You know you really aren’t the audience that I was writing for.” His answer was an emphatic, “Yeah, I know.”
Ah, audience! It’s one of those massively important things that we can sometimes forget about. As readers as well as writers. We hear about a book that everyone is raving about, then buy it and attempt to read it and think it’s horrible. We ask ourselves “Is that what everyone has been so excited about?” as if it’s their problem. But no, sometimes you have to close a book and say “It’s not you, it’s me.”
I’m sure Patient Zero is an awesome book. I’ve been assured by my zombie-loving friends that it is. But not for me. And that’s cool. I’m still going to recommend it to my friends who are the zombie type. I think the book deserves to find the right audience.
Oh, I do have to add that there’s one thing about the book that I absolutely LOVED. The character of Joe Ledger, in my head at least, has the same voice (literally and figuratively) as Jonathan. Very cool.
Next up in my queue, something for which I am absolutely the target audience!