The main plot, however, is quite good as action adventure entertainment in the tradition of Clive Cussler and James Rollins. Like Rollins’ Sigma Force, Maberrys’ DMS is a clandestine organization chartered to defend against technological monsters and there are more than enough of those to make the action interesting and entertaining.
Maberry writes in a cinematic style that makes the story, once it starts in earnest, as satisfying to a lover of over the top action techno-adventure as a bar of chocolate to a chocolate addict. There is plenty to savor here: the action sprawls continents and the cast of actors is large and fluent in techno-speak, there are genetic monsters and cryptozological wonders, and secret cabals and island hideaways where bad guys plot world destruction; there are plenty of adrenaline-enhanced action sequences, all topped off with some familiar genre tropes, which Maberry wields competently, such as the Nazi specter of the Master Race, Russian Mafia assassins, and the frightening possibilities inherent in a covert genetic manipulation, such as diseases that kill only certain people. This last possibility is most fresh and therefore most frightening part of Maberry’s bag of monsters. Ledger himself is a wounded-hero, of course, adding a semblance of realism to the otherwise Bondesque or comics-like (Maberry has a place at the table at Marvel Comics, where he writes The Black Panther) fantasy. But there is, aside from the action and the monsters, a twinkle of hope in humanity here, too.
One of the Nazi clones develops a conscience and is instrumental in helping Ledger and his team crack the nut of conspiracy threatening the world. But can the DMS organization accept the idea or will the clone be denied its humanity the organization? Maberry works the theme of conscience here in other ways: Cyrus is upset, for example, that his scientists, despite being atheists and receiving conscience-dampening genetic therapy, are still feeling guilt and remorse at the idea of killing billions.
While some devotees of the genre may find The Dragon Factory not as great as Patient Zero, the book still makes for a pleasurable summer read.