About the Author
[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via NetGalley for review.]
Elevator pitch: It's like Jurassic Park, but with dragons and waaaay more action.
If that capsule summary has you hooked, then you're in for one hell of a ride! Matthew Reilly's latest, The Great Zoo of China, is, first and foremost, fun. A damn lot of fun at that.
I've only read a couple of Reilly's past efforts, both from his Scarecrow series, and although this particular novel is a standalone the gist of Reilly's work is this - he takes a cool premise and turns it into a big-budget Hollywood thrill-ride spectacle, with as much action as possible stuffed into its pages. His twitter bio is both succinct and highly accurate, describing him as a "Creator of rollercoaster rides on paper."
In The Great Zoo of China, Reilly takes us to a country renowned primarily for building stuff for the industries of other nations. If it wants to be a world leader, then China needs to win the war of soft diplomacy and become a cultural sensation. The solution, then, is to open a zoo unlike any ever seen - not just The Great Zoo of China, but The Great Dragon Zoo of China. And obviously that's a really swell idea and everything turns out hunky-dory. I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right?
Um...well...quite a lot, it turns out.
Reilly embellishes his fantastical central premise with a nice smidge of just-plausible-enough science to get the ball rolling. Readers aren't beaten over the head with technical details and scientific minutia, but rather a gently laid groundwork that gives the existence of dragons enough credibility to get us to a metric ton of explosions, and death-defying derring-do as the zoo finds itself under siege.
Taking center stage is reptile expert, and National Geographic writer, CJ Cameron, who has survived a crocodile attack that left her face badly scarred. Cameron is a smart and brave action heroine, from the Ellen Ripley mold, and a fiercely determined protagonist once all hell breaks loose. She takes quick command of the world-shaking developments rocking the zoo, and steers the plethora of chaotic events that ensue toward a satisfyingly bloody and fiery finish.
The Great Zoo of China is a huge, Hollywood-ready blockbuster, brimming with enough action and pyrotechnics to make Michael Bay jealous. And Reilly never loses sight of his primary goal, which is to make a big, muscular, and enjoyable thriller that only rarely pauses to catch a breath before diving headlong back into the fray.