Ok, before everybody starts screaming ‘spoiler alert’, we all know The Great Zoo of China is about dragons. If you didn’t, where have you been hiding? Just take a look at the massive dragon tail on the front cover or open the first few pages and you’ll see the quote about dragons, not to mention the pictures of the map with the size scale of dragons next to it. That’s before the novel even starts. So no hate people. This book is about dragons. There. I said it.
Matthew Reilly is an Australian Author, and he released The Great Zoo of China in November 2014. You may be familiar with his action-packed work such as The Scarecrow Series or The Jack West series, and almost from the start, The Great Zoo of China is full of relentless action.
If you take the book and flip it over to the back, this is what you’ll see:
‘AN IMPOSSIBLE DISCOVERY. 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.
THE WORLD’S GREATEST DISCOVERY. The Chinese are ready to unveil their fabulous creatures in the greatest zoo ever constructed. VIPs and journalists, including reptile expert Dr Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, are invited to see the beasts for the first time.
ONE FALSE PROMISE. The visitors are promised by their Chinese host that they are perfectly safe, that nothing can go wrong. Of course it can’t…’
It doesn’t leave much to the imagination. We have journalists, a reptile expert, China and a discovery of an animal that no one believed even existed. What could it be? A unicorn? No, of course, it’s about dragons, and I’m okay with it.
The story follows Cassandra Jane Cameron, known as CJ and her social media obsessed brother Hamish as they join a few journalists and government officials to review this new and exciting zoo in a secluded part of China. The promise of awe and wonder is given to the group as they are set to view something that will blow their minds. China plans to use this zoo to become a world power; to be the best. CJ, a herpetologist (reptile expert) and a vet was invited along to give her expert opinion and write a review on the new exciting zoo. She features as the central character in the novel.
I love that the main character is a strong and intelligent female and Reilly does well to not portray her as a helpless beauty or a bland, one-dimensional mess, however as the novel progresses she completes feats which are just a whisker short of superhero status. I find some of the scenes in this novel to be a little farfetched and at times, just somewhat unbelievable. Once the characters are introduced and the stage is set, we see a somewhat predictable turn of events that lead to all hell breaking loose. But, do you know what? I didn’t mind. The book is a fast-paced thriller and full of action at the turn of every page.
One of the most significant issues with this book is the obvious comparison made between The Great Zoo of China and Jurassic Park. Picture everything you know about Jurassic Park then imagine it happening with dragons, and basically, you get the idea of this novel. However, there is an interview at the back of the book where Reilly addresses this issue. He knew the book would draw criticism and comparison with Jurassic Park and states in an interview that he wanted to make his novel as different as possible. I won’t go into too much detail. If this book seems like something you’d be interested in, then read it and make up your mind. For me, I didn’t mind at all. Why? Well, because of the dragons. I love dragons.
The Great Zoo of China is indeed not a groundbreaking read; however, it is still enjoyable, and there are some cool aspects and surprises in the novel. Enjoy.