Monday, June 22, 2015

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China
Title: The Great Zoo of China
Author: Matthew Reilly
Publication Date: 1/27/15
Pages: 392
How I Found It: My mom told me about it, believe it or not!
Date Completed: 5/28/15

Summary: In an attempt to achieve cultural dominance,  China has spent decades developing a fantastical zoo which they are about to open to the public. The press tour, of which scientist CJ and her photographer brother Hamish are a part, goes horribly wrong...Jurassic Park style. 

What I Thought:  Despite what the author says in the interview printed at the back of the book, The Great Zoo of China bears a lot of resemblance to Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. Sure, there are differences - dragons vs. dinosaurs, press tour vs. consultants, cultural investment vs. capitalist venture - but the bones are nearly identical. Yet, that is not all a complaint. 

Just because I am a raging, enthusiastic fan of Five Guys does not mean I cannot also enjoy Red Robin on occasion. Burgers are delicious and science fictional theme parks with mythical/ancient creatures make for a fun thrill. What's wrong with variations on a theme when the theme is a good one? 

Kevin is reading this one, too, and he looks up from the pages from time to time, stares at me in disbelief, and says, "This IS Jurassic Park." He's also not complaining. He likes amusement parks gone horribly wrong nearly as much as I do. 

I did like that Reilly chose a female protagonist. I felt that was a nice change, especially considering the misogyny and gender biases present in both the old and new Jurassic Park movies. I liked CJ - although I could not help picturing her as a tall press secretary rather than a researcher. Her downside, however, was her singular dimensionality, a trait her compatriots shared. No one grew or developed. I get that this is not the genre one runs to for such things. But it can only add to a story. Knock your action down 5-10% and add in some depth! No reader will complain.

I did like Reilly's scientific explanations. He made the whole thing seem feasible and not utter mythical madness. I like that. I like being given enough info to help me want to buy a story like this. It's probably part of why I liked The Martian so much more than Kevin. 

I think this is a fun, quick read. The first few chapters drag a bit, but once the action starts, it keeps going fast and furious until the end - an end which I found utterly ridiculous but liked nonetheless. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: I doubt it
If You Liked This Try: The Passage / Ready Player One / Angels & Demons

A Reduced Review: China's attempt at cultural dominance through a fantastical new zoo takes a bad turn in this Jurassic Park style thriller. 

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