Gallery Books: 1/27/2015
eBook, 416 pages
My Thoughts:It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.
A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong. Of course it can’t…
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly is a very highly recommended thriller for action/adventure junkies. In The Great Zoo of China Reilly opens with a scene that immediately lets you know that you are in for an action packed ride of the large scale creature variety.
Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a herpetologist and expert on crocodiles who is also a writer for National Geographic, along with her brother Hamish, a photographer, are invited to China to see The Great Zoo of China before it is opened to the public. Chinese officials have kept the existence of the zoo secret for years while building and planning it. Their goal was to create the greatest tourist attraction in the world. Along with a small group of VIPs, CJ and Hamish are flown to a secret valley without cages or enclosures. The Chinese have established electromagnetic domes to keep the zoo animals in while giving guests ultrasonic personal shields to keep the enclosed creatures at bay. We all learn quickly what animals are in the zoo.
CJ and the other guests learn that in November 1979, miners in a nickel mine broke through to a most unusual underground passageway and cavern. Inside was a large cache of eggs. In July 1981 one of the eggs hatched and a dragon emerged. The dragons are archosaurs, similar to pterodactyls. Suddenly mythical creatures from the collective historical past are real, alive, and thriving. We know from the opening that this visit will likely not end well and the guests will all be in danger.
Reilly fully admits the fact that he loves Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and wanted to write a novel in the same vein in homage to Crichton. He goes on to inform the reader that making a novel "fast and easy to read is not easy at all. It takes time and lots and lots of constant revising. If anyone says The Great Zoo of China is easy to read and only takes a few days to get through, then I will take that as a big compliment, because I worked hard to make it that way!" Reilly certainly succeeded in keeping the action moving non-stop and there are maps and diagrams throughout the novel to help you follow the action. I found myself compulsively stealing time throughout the day trying to find out what on earth happened next.
While I will concede that there isn't a lot of character development, I wasn't really looking for that in The Great Zoo of China. Reilly delivered exactly what I wanted. I was hoping for a totally engrossing thrill-ride of escapism and non-stop action. This is a fantastic "stuck overnight at the airport book." That makes it very highly recommended for an action/adventure thriller. There is a lot of violence and bloodshed, but, ahem, here there be dragons...
In the past I have enjoyed Reilly's novels, but always noted that he went too over board in the use of exclamation points. I'm actually pleased to note that he was much stingier with them in The Great Zoo of China. Yes, of course they are there (real, live dragons are running amok!), but certainly their usage was much more restrained.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books for review purposes.