Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly


Title: The Great Zoo of China

Author: Matthew Reilly

Published: Gallery Books January 2015

Status: Read from January 24 to 25, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“Ladies and gentlemen…Thank you for joining us on this most auspicious day. Today you will see a project that will be like nothing you have witnessed before, a $244 billion project that has been forty years in the making. It is a zoo that was built in a absolute secrecy because when it is revealed to the world it will cause a sensation.”

Cassandra Jane (‘CJ’) Cameron, a writer for the National Geographic (who is also a veterinarian and renowned herpetologist) is one of a small group of American VIP’s invited by the Chinese Government to tour The Great Zoo of China before it is unveiled to the world.
The Zoo is a spectacular sight, built in the Guangdong Province it looks like a primordial valley with forests and rock formations, lakes and waterfalls, ten miles wide and twenty miles long. And basking in the sun, perched on crumbling ruins and gliding through the air are dragons.

Of course CJ and the other visitors are assured the Zoo is safe. The Zoo itself is caged by two electromagnetic fields, the buildings, equipment and people protected by a similar sonic technology. Every dragon is fitted with a chip used to train and modify behaviour. Nothing can go wrong they are told… but of course it does.

From the moment the dragon’s attack their cable car during the tour, CJ and her cohorts are running for their lives. The action is nonstop as they stumble from one incredible scenario into another, desperate to escape, facing down deadly dragons, cranky crocodiles and trigger happy soldiers.

The characters are larger than life, but without any real substance. CJ, the heroine, is beautiful (though scarred) with an eidetic memory and MacGyver-like skills. Her main allies include her brother, a photographer, the American Ambassador to China (who is largely useless), the ambassador’s aide, Johnson, who is more than he seems, and later a Chinese electrician, Li. Naturally the villains are the Zoo’s morally bankrupt administrative and political guardians, and CJ’s nasty ex boyfriend, Ben, who eventually all meet appropriately grisly ends. In fact a significant number of people die in horribly unpleasant and gory ways.

I do have to give credit to Reilly for offering some interesting and somewhat plausible theories for the resurrection of the dragons, and for the creation of the Zoo. The interview with Reilly included in my copy of The Great Zoo of China shows he gave some thought to grounding his ideas. The parallels between The Great Zoo of China and Michael Chrichton’s Jurassic Park are impossible to ignore though. Reilly admits it is his favourite novel of all time and though he endeavoured to put his own spin on it, I’m not sure he really succeeded.

The Great Zoo of China is a fast-paced, entertaining read, which requires the reader to suspend belief and just hang on for the ride. Those expecting anything more will likely be disappointed.

Available to Purchase From

Simon & Schuster I Amazon US I BookDepository I Indiebound

boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

and all good bookstores.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kay
    Jan 29, 2015 @ 22:54:38

    The minute I started reading about this I thought, “Jurassic Park”. LOL

    It might be interesting, but it also would be nice to have the author’s own spin on things. I’ll keep it in mind. I know the first time I read JURRASIC PARK, so many years ago, I was just fascinated. Had never thought about anything like before and I knew that Crichton had a winner.



  2. laura
    Jan 30, 2015 @ 08:51:48

    I agree wholeheartedly with your review… Reilly works really hard to make it plausible and I’m still not quite sure, and the likeness are very present for Jurassic Park. But I still read it very quickly – great escapism 🙂



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