Matthew Reilly takes elements from Michael Crichton’s classic Jurassic Park and gives them a high fantasy spin in his latest action masterpiece, The Great Zoo of China.
Reptile expert Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron is asked to visit a zoo that is soon to open in the middle of China. Staff members at the site are extremely secretive and provide few answers to her questions until Cameron and the others witness what animals are being kept inside the compound: dragons. The Chinese government has been keeping the discovery of dragon eggs hidden for more than 40 years. Now that they have been able to create a place for the dragons to be seen by the general public, they are ready to unveil their existence. Once word spreads, officials believe the zoo will become the No. 1 tourist attraction in the world.
Cameron and the other dignitaries in her group explore the the zoo and learn about the technology used to keep visitors safe, as well as the science and biology behind how these creatures can actually exist. They soon realize the dragons are superintelligent — and have a plan to escape.
Reilly has the ability to take objects such as garbage trucks and use them in extreme ways, creating action scenes that read majestically on the page. Most authors throw in guns and lots of shooting to create a frantic and thrilling scene, but Reilly can amp up the tension with just a glance from one of the creatures.
The science and the setting make the scenario completely believable. The action is overwhelming, making the reader feel giddy as the pages fly. You will believe that dragons are real.
Jeff Ayers reviewed this book for The Associated Press.