The Great Zoo of China, by Matthew Reilly, is the next big thing from an author is by all accounts is doing quite well for himself. I’d never heard of him before so I did a little research and he’s so big in fact that he turns up before Matthew McConaughey does on Google. Impressed yet? Turns out he’s quite the author of intense action books that always seem to have a major plot twist, several in fact.
To sum up the book quickly – Jurassic Park with dragons. Michael Crichton’s influence on the author is well known, and perhaps this is his homage to him.
In any case, Reilly doesn’t disappoint with this novel, once again an action packed and relatively quick read too. That’s always a plus factor as it shows its good enough to keep your attention.
Strangely, the author uses little graphics around the start of each chapter, along with maps and illustrations in a style akin to youth fiction. I felt a little talked down to with those small distractions, but you can forgive his (most likely publishers) attempt to try and create the entire ‘oriental’ feel to his novel.
China have the money, the people, but they don’t have something that is uniquely ‘Chinese’. They don’t have the cultural supremacy that the US developed. All because they don’t have a Disneyland. In the novel the Chinese set out to create themselves as culture leaders, by yes, you got it, creating a Dragon Zoo.
It’s a great idea, but if you are the head of the Chinese Government (because I know we get a lot of Chinese Government officials reading reviews on NZ Booklovers), I’d steer clear of it as it’s not all that praising of your communistic ideals. The book details China’s obsession with building everything and also protecting itself from overseas culture. Matthew Reilly has obviously done his research as the book reads quite well as an informative essay on Chinese foreign policy.
Lucky for us readers, it’s all necessary and helpful background information to the overall plot. The novel starts as to be expected, mystery surrounding the new Chinese attraction, then the Chinese invite reporters, they all see the dragons, but of course they start nosing around and the Chinese would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddlin’ kids. If you can ignore the predictable Scooby Doo type mystery, you will be caught out by the really good plot twists that emerge as you read on.
The Great Zoo of China will be a good summer read for the adult who is tired of waiting for the dragons to arrive in Game of Thrones. The dragons are here and they actually do something in this book.