Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Joe Ledger and the DMS (Department of Military Sciences) go up against two competing groups of geneticists. One side is creating exotic transgenic monsters and genetically enhanced mercenary armies; the other is using 21st century technology to continue the Nazi Master Race program begun by Josef Mengele. Both sides want to see the DMS destroyed, and they've drawn first blood. Neither side is prepared for Joe Ledger as he leads Echo Team to war under a black flag.
Joe Ledger returns in this fast paced, exciting second installment in the Joe Ledger series. Maberry is a master of timing, creating tension, and gruesome imagination. He has a way with first sentences, and The Dragon Factory is no exception:
Otto Wirths was the second-worst mass murderer in the history of the world. Compared to him Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun, and even Alexander the Great were amateurs, poseurs who could not hold a candle to Otto and his body count. (p. 1)There are so many things to grab attention here - it is hard to imagine worse mass murderers than Hitler, and this Otto guy is only the second-worst. Who was the worst? This sets us up for some scary characters.
The other thing that happens in this prologue is that we learn that things don't go well, that Joe will be on his own, injured with limited weapons, the Extinction Clock is just about to run out, but that he is still ready to fight to save humanity. The rest of the book is told with the ticking of the Extinction Clock counting down like a time bomb and we know that it will come down to the wire. This is great writing.
Dragon Factory is written in a hard hitting, macho style of writing that is perfectly suited to Joe Ledger, a member of the secret government agency, Department of Military Sciences. This group saves the world from the worst of the terrorist threats without the world even knowing the threat exists.
Joe is an interesting character, tougher than tough, smart, strong, and yet human at the same time. He struggles in his own mind about the things he has to do to beat the bad guys, how he has to become a warrior, though the civilized man in him is horrified. Several of the other characters, especially Grace and Rudy Sanchez really humanize Joe.
There are so many creepy and horrible threats in this book, from the top two mass murderers ever in the world whose plan is so awful that it is hard to wrap the mind around it, to the creepy twins, and the horrors of using science for evil ends. This is another area where Maberry excels, it is clear that he has done a lot of research on genetics and eugenics to add a layer of possibility to the story.
Finally, there is also the very interesting explorations about good vs. evil and nature vs. nurture. I love it when books tackle big issues like these as I think it adds another dimension to the book.
I would highly recommend this book (or series for that matter) to those who like action, adventure, horror books. Be warned, though, these books are pretty violent and graphic.