The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly is Jurassic Park with dragons. The novel is self aware and there is references to Jurassic Park throughout. Where the novel separates it self from Jurassic Park is 300 pages of white knuckle action that does not let up until the end. Reilly does not put too much science in his science fiction unlike Michael Crichton does, leaving the story not as believable as Jurassic Park. What Reilly does really well is have detailed maps, that constantly reminds the reader where they are in relationship to others. Reilly who is known for his action delivers a pulse pounding narrative that seems to never let up. This is my fourth Matthew Reilly book, I was intrigued by the premise and a rare stand alone book, this is my first book not part of Scarecrow book series.
The Plot: The Chinese have discovered a great treasure in copper mines that could be the key to tourism: dragons. The people and the workers think China is working on a super immersive zoo called the The Great Zoo of China, but what they are really working on is the Great Dragon Zoo of China. Scientist have discovered dragon eggs and how to harvest them, they have added trackers, and protection to all people, buildings, and transportation, when dragons get close a sonar pulse is released to the ear of the dragon. Today is the first day of the tour to diplomats, journalists, and scientists. CJ is one of the top scientist when it come to the study of crocodiles, the oldest living reptile, she gets an opportunity to work at a new zoo to replace her peer who worked for the zoo previously but is said to have died in a plane crash. CJ takes a long her brother, and meets reporters from the New York Times, and a liaison to China, for a tour of the zoo that is on a remote island away from everything. They tour tell of the safety measures and security. Everything is going fine until CJ notices claw marks on the ears of several dragons, before she can ask what’s that, they are attacked. The dragons have deafened themselves so the sonar has no effect and they can attack people, transportation, and structures.
What I Liked: Jurassic Park is acknowledged and jokes and references are aplenty. The plot is essentially a dragon prison break, with humans trying to break to. The trained dragon Lucky was pretty cool how they figure out how to communicate. The action is non-stop it is a thrill ride that has enemies all around. I liked the bit about dragons can not breathe fire, is what we’re constantly told until it happens and is pretty cool. I like the use of maps that are drawn out showing the zoo, they easy to read and know where characters and dragons are. The best scene is my opinion wasn’t the danger of the dragon but another animal all together. I do like that every Matthew Reilly book there is some sort of animal attack danger included.
What I Disliked: Is there a thing as too much action? I think there is! Once the novel gets going there is only one real pause, then back to the action. I wanted to have a moment with the characters, then all action all the time we know CJ is smart because of her actions, but not really her dialogue. Dialogue is pretty bad all around.
Recommendations: If you read this for the action then it so delivers and is quite fun. The plot and the sequences are fun even it not that believable. The science fiction aspect is lacking quite a bit. I rate The Great Zoo of China 3 out of 5 stars. I recommend the Shane Scofield AKA Scarecrow series that is just straight action, and fun.