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Predator One by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger #7)

I love everything that Jonathan Maberry has ever written. Some of his books (including his Rot & Ruin series) are great examples of the zombie survival genre, while his Joe Ledger series fits perfectly in military horror, a genre which I’ve come to love ever since I’ve read Khost by Vincent Hobbes a few years ago.

Predator One is the 7th book in the Joe Ledger series, focused on a team of hardened and very dangerous operators working for the DMS (Department of Military Sciences), led by Joe Ledger himself, the hero that everyone looks up to and fears even in their dreams.

You’d think that by now the series being already at #7 would start to show signs of weakness. Having read not only Predator One, but also the next book Kill Switch (book #8 coming out early 2016), I was extremely pleased to see that the series is still going as strong as ever.

Not one book in the series so far has had any moments that would prompt you to skip paragraphs or even pages (and god knows many authors are already burned out by the time they get out book #7 out in their respective series).

Note – this book will contain a few spoilers for past books in the series. It is impossible to avoid them since part of what is happening now is directly related to at least one earlier novel (book #3 The King of Plagues).

In Predator One the DMS is put under pressure, fire and everything else that can be thrown at it to cause the maximum possible damage. And if you’ve read the previous books in the series, you’ll remember that what has so far been thrown at DMS and Joe Ledger’s team included zombies, mutated monsters, vampires, plagues and super soldiers that make the bad guys in the superhero novels look like wimps.

So what threat does the DMS has to face this time around? Well if you enjoy books written by technothriller authors, this book will be right up your alley. Because of drone terrorism.

The topic of drone commercialization is quite current today since even companies like Amazon and Google have drones on their minds and ready to deliver to the masses. So a military horror/high-tech thriller novel based on evil drone warfare is the perfect baby born into a world that is more than ready for it.

Predator One starts with an awesome day going bad very very fast with the following premise: what do you do when drones that are now used commercially by many companies are suddenly used for terrorist attacks on unsuspecting prey? And what do you do when at the same time automated vehicles are hacked into in order to create utter chaos within a large group of people?

Put these two together and you get a recipe of disaster, one that Joe Ledger and his people have to fight with everything they have, including their brains and wits to come unscathed on the other side and of course, to save the day. And this time around, not even their families or bosses are safe. Because this time around the terrorists target them.

Just when you thought the Seven Kings are long gone, buried and put to rest in all of our minds, we are proven wrong. One of the Seven Kings, called, for now, The Gentleman is still alive. And he is back with the intention of destroying America. For good this time. Because that’s how the Seven Kings are (or used to be) – with plans so big that the word ‘big’ is but a morsel in their large scheme of things.

The bad guys now have a computer program so bad-ass that it can literally hack and take control of every military equipment that has a CPU. And this time Church, the boss of DMS is stuck on Air Force One – the very plane – which now has succumbed its control to the hands of the enemy.

The book is not short at over 450 pages. Yet I’ve read it in two sittings exactly. It was just as suspenseful as the previous books in the series – in fact I dare to say I felt it was even more suspenseful than all the previous ones combined.

Here I felt the first time that each member of the DMS was truly in mortal danger, and it would take a miracle to get them out of the mess alive. And even if alive, all of them would be utterly changed at the end of it all.

We already know lots of the main characters, but this book gives them new layers and depths and makes us care for their fates even more. The evil ones are truly twisted and often just a bit crazier than normal. And that’s what makes them so dangerous to the whole team and their families. Because a crazy on a vengeance roll is d.a.n.g.e.r.o.u.s.

The writing packs the usual punch and you can’t turn the pages fast enough to see what comes next. There are no down times in this book. Things happen at a pace that makes you forget your surroundings entirely.

The only recommendation I can do is start the series at the beginning, with Patient Zero and work your way up. It won’t take long simply because the books are fast reads, in the sense that you can’t let go until you finished the last page. Thankfully Jonathan Maberry writes a book a year, so it won’t be long until a new one is yet again released.

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