The Great Zoo of China
Author: Matthew Reilly
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Review Copy Provided by the Publisher
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 they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.
Of course it can’t…
I’ve been a fan of Matthew Reilly for years, since I bought and read Ice Station in one afternoon – I mean, I devoured the book. And since then I’ve made it a policy to always buy or read his books when they are released (although, since he is an Australian author, there is sometimes a delay between release in Australia and the US – but thankfully, my mother supports my addiction and buys me his books). So when I got the notification that his new book, The Great Zoo of China was available for review, I KNEW that I had to get my hands on it. It was different from his previous ones that fell within the Scarecrow/Jack West Jr World, but going back to his thriller background, after the deviation with The Tournament.
As with any Matt Reilly book, I knew exactly what I was going to get when I picked it up – the plot would be highly implausible, bordering on ridiculous; it would be fast paced and action packed with lots of blood/guts and gore and I wouldn’t be able to put it down. And he succeeded on all levels – I saw down to read this at about noon on a Saturday and literally didn’t move from my bed until early that evening when I finished reading it. I kept saying, just one more chapter, just one more – and before I knew it the book was finished. I always find it interesting that I enjoy these books since I am primarily a romance reader and I love a happy ending and quite often his books leave me with more questions than answers – yet I keep picking them up. I will say though that this book was a stand-alone and from what I could see, I don’t know if it could be turned into a series, which could be good. While I love his other books, my favorite it still Temple, set in the jungles of South America.
One of the things about Matt’s writing, aside from the thrill a minute, is that he typically has strong female characters – who while they may have some moments of questionable actions, for the most part, they are kick ass and CJ was no different. I really enjoyed how he managed to mix her expertise and passion for a subject into an action adventure plot. He really shows that there is nothing a man can do that a woman can’t (CJ is a great example, as is Mother from his Scarecrow series). And while the secondary characters are normally well developed, I always find myself particularly attached to one character and rooting for them (and yes, it was CJ in this instance).
I’ll agree with other reviews that say the plot was highly implausible – I mean, a nest of dragons being found and kept secret for 20+ years (I mean, I know its China, but really). But at the same time, that is what I like about Matt’s writing – it is completely farfetched and would never happen in a million years. I always feel, when it comes to fiction, authors either need to be as plausible as possible, or as completely farfetched as possible when it comes to developing their storylines – when they try to toe the line between the two, it often doesn’t work for me.
Really, this is a hard review to write, because every time I start writing something around the plot, I type a spoiler and this is a review that could easily turn spoiler ridden (but I won’t do that to you). Here is my advice – get it, read it if you like completely whacked out action adventure. I gave The Great Zoo of China 4 stars and now, I have to go back to waiting for his next book.