Thursday, March 3, 2016

Zoo - James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Title: Zoo
Author: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Publication Date: 9/3/12
Pages: 395
How I Found It: I watched the TV adaptation
Date Completed: 1/17/16

Summary: The animal kingdom is rising up against humans. Jackson Oz is trying to sound the alarm, but is finding himself met with a lot of skepticism and laughter. Can he convince the world of its impending doom before it's too late?

What I Thought: I grabbed this one on a whim for Kevin and I to listen to on a road trip. Back in the fall, I totally binge watched the TV adaptation of this book and loved it. It's suspenseful, keeping you on the edge of your seat, but still lightly episodic in nature. I enjoyed the actors in it and, although the writing was not spectacular, the concept is interesting and relatively unique. I'm definitely excited for if and when a second season is made. Anyway, all that to say, in my hunt for a good audio book for the trip, I saw this one and figured it would be interesting to compare the two. Kevin didn't watch the show with me so I thought it woul keep him engaged enough. I expected to get some sleep during familiar segments.

Surprisingly, the book kept me engaged as well. Turns out, this original literary version has some drastic differences from the adaptation (a fact which really should not have surprised me as much as it did). It's clear that what Patterson and Ledwidge did in the book would not have worked as a long television series, so adjustments were fit the storyline into a television model. The result: the two works share only a premise and a few character names. Even the characters themselves only share passing resemblences to their counterparts. Basically, the book and show almost play out as parallel stories within the same world but having little to actually do with one another.

The premise is this: animals have somehow joined together to attack humans. In the book, Jackson Oz seems to be the only one recognizing the burgeoning phenomenon. His attempts to engage the scientific community and news outlets of the dangers, however, fall on deaf ears for the first half of the book. The second half of the book, set five years after the first half, shows the world having largely accepted the reality of the animal attacks and Oz searching searching intently for a solution. Along the way, of course, he has multiple brushes with death.

In general, you know I am a very loyal fan of books over film or television adaptations. In this case, it truly is hard to compare the two fairly because they are so different. However, I find myself gravitating toward the tv version. I found the characters therein, though based on the book characters, to be more likeable and relatable. The larger core group on screen balances each other out whereas, in the book, Oz and his romantic interest, Chloe, retain the focus and don't have the same charm and repartee they do on screen (thanks in part, no doubt, to the attractive actors who play them). 

This was not a bad book. It's a James Patterson thriller. If you are familiar with his work, it's pretty much par for the course. There's a reason this guy sells so many books, but there is also a reason he is able to churn them out so quickly. The entertainment value is high, but the depth is shallow. No wonder it makes for such great television binging. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely

A Reduced Review: The animal revolt in this novel is frightening, thrilling, and well thought out; yet, I think it worked better on screen than in this, the source material. 

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