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The Great Zoo of China Hardcover – January 27, 2015
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About the Author
Matthew Reilly is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Tournament, The Great Zoo of China, The Five Greatest Warriors, The Six Sacred Stones, Seven Deadly Wonders, Ice Station, Temple, Contest, Area 7, Scarecrow, the children’s book Hover Car Racer, and the novella, Hell Island. His books have been published in more than twenty languages in twenty countries, and he has sold more than seven million copies worldwide. Visit him at MatthewReilly.com and at Facebook.com/OfficialMatthewReilly.
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Top Customer Reviews
I shouldn't really be surprised that "The Great Zoo of China" failed to impress me. 2015 has, after all, been a huge disappointment in anticipated books. Nearly every novel I've eagerly waited for has ended up letting me down. That's probably why I'm not all that upset about another one to add to the displeasure list. What I am upset about, though, is the utter mess this novel was, especially considering this was penned by one of the best authors to emerge in the last 10 years.
I don't even have time to go into all the details (cuz there are a lot) but simply put, "...China" is a disastrous novel in every sense of the word. It's horribly written. Sloppy to the point of laziness. The characters are paper thin and there's no emotional connection to any of them, let alone any real backstory. Most of them are written in as place holders or just another body for the dragons to chomp down on..and from the get go, it's pretty damn easy to tell who is going to die and who will end up the victor. The action, though it is non-stop, is just too much and ridiculously unbelievable. Reilly is known for writing some insanely crazy action scenes (go read the 40 page epic chase scene in "Ice Station") but here, it's just too much. While I enjoy explosions and car chases and fights against monsters, I like the pacing to be a little bit more well done, not one of those "and then...and then...and then" kind of prose. Here, it's as if Reilly was replaced by a 14 year old who just guzzled down 8 cans of Red Bull while binging on Michael Bay's filmography.
And then there's the plot, which is probably the worst of all. Yeah, the whole "Jurassic Park" thing gets thrown around, and yes, there are some comparisons, but if you put the 2 side by side, there is really no contest. Crichton's book was original and believable (to a point). It made sense and it started an entire franchise of billion dollar movies and merchandise. I can't see that happening with Reilly's book because, honestly, it just wasn't that good. Sure, some of the ideas were clever (the whole hibernating dragon thing was thought out) but overall, it just didn't work and left me shocked this could be by the same author that I've loved for years.
This was the introduction of a new lead character, who happens to be a female, and a character that is quite a bit different than his previous two action heroes. Instead of being military based CJ is a reptile expert (crocodiles being her specific field of study), and this was an interesting change up from past books. A military trained action hero can be expected to have some training in dealing with some of the threats that Reilly has presented in the past, but a female version of the Crocodile Hunter has a very different array of skills.
I thoroughly enjoyed the new character of CJ, but we were also introduced to her brother as well, and several times I felt that I wanted more information about the ongoing struggle her brother was facing while CJ went about her side of the adventure. This is definitely CJ's story, but her brother is also a major player that is relegated to the background.
While I liked CJ, and would happily read another adventure story featuring her this book was not the same amazing ride as previous books have been. There are great moments, interesting scenes, and plenty of action, but this book feels like one long drawn out chase scene. The ups and downs all feel very even to me, and not like the roller coaster ride of action and excitement that I've seen in other works by Reilly.
One of the most interesting points of the story, to me, was how far and to what lengths the Chinese government was willing to go to keep this project a secret.
CJ eventually ends up talking with a dragon via a CONGO (the movie) style headset that allows a very basic vocabulary to be translated back and forth, and then CJ is riding the dragon, and between both of those elements I found myself disconnecting from the story. While unbelievable and over the top action I can get my head around the Dragon Whisperer just went a few inches over the line for me. If this had been more of a fantasy based story I would have been along for the ride, and I see the Sea World style connection and how the real world relates to Mr. Reilly's story. It just never felt quite right to me while I read it.
While you're trapped inside (if you're in the United States in the winter of 2015) this is an excellent read. It's fun, it's fast, it's entertaining, and I think any fan of Matthew Reilly's work would enjoy this particular story. It might also be a great introduction to a new reader of Mr. Reilly's work. It just needed something a little extra that I didn't quite get out of this book.