Received via NetGalley from Gallery Books in exchange for an completely honest and unbiased review
The Great Zoo of China is about to open, and a select few VIP visitors have been invited to get a preview before opening day. Our hero, CJ from the National Geographic is tasked to write a piece on the clandestine Zoo after a brief visit, one that will expose her to inexplicable danger and test her physical and mental limits. She, her brother Hamish, and a few other surprising additions must fight to survive an ancient and cunning adversary, but can they stay alive long enough to survive the night? And when all hope is lost, can they stop the Zoo’s destruction caused by its creators who desperately wish to hide all evidence of their failure?
As Reilly states, his novels are about “bigger and bigger action” or “big-scale action”. Reilly wants to make a splash, and wants to do it via the most creative methods possible. He uses ancient Dragon myths to construct a story, one based on fact and farfetched fiction to make something matching a Hollywood movie on paper. Matthew Reilly will never be an academic writer, nor will he be seen as someone who writes deep, meaningful prose. That’s okay because he does quite well filling in his niche, and making it pleasurable to read. A roller coaster of excitement, experience and unexpected turns that keeps the reader wondering “what next, and who will survive?”
I read Reilly’s JackWest Jr novels a few years ago and when I saw The Great Zoo of China on NetGalley, I absolutely needed to read it. I have spent numerous months reading academic papers and novels generally servicing as emotional outlets. It took a while to shift gears and enjoy Reilly’s action packed thrill ride. I disliked CJ immensely because she was someone who felt she was a victim due to a choice she’d willingly made years before causing enormous facial damage. She also slips from her academic guise quickly, and turns into a super-agent instantaneously which was a far too drastic development in my opinion.
Regardless of my distaste for the hero of the story, I was able to enjoy the surprises that arise from the imagination of a man who delivers entertainment on a grandiose scale. The exaggerated and wholly impossible situations the characters find themselves time and again capture the reader’s attention and the Dragon’s uncanny intelligence adds an extra level of fun!
If you enjoy dragon myths, cover ups, action, adventure, tough female roles and some gore The Great Zoo of China is for you. If you are a Reilly fan, this book is most definitely the most “big-scale action” yet from Reilly! Also, riding a Dragon sounds like the most frightening experience on Earth..or exciting if you're into heights..