It’s taken me a while to finish this book. Despite its fast pace and high action plot, I’m afraid I didn’t love it and at one point almost didn’t finish it at all. It’s an alright read, and if you’re after fast paced action then it certainly meets the brief, but it just wasn’t original enough, and lacked character development.
The Great Zoo of China follows protagonist reptile specialist CJ, who has been invited, along with her photographer brother Hamish, to visit the new and impressive Great Zoo of China. As they arrive, they realise that this is no ordinary zoo, and that the Chinese authorities have been hiding a huge secret within the remote attraction. What starts as wonder soon turns to fear, as events take a deadly turn, and CJ finds herself fighting for her life against an undefeatable enemy.
If you’re thinking this all sounds vaguely familiar you’d be right: this book is best described as Jurassic Park with dragons. The author even references Jurassic Park within the first part of the story. The problem is that it is so much like Jurassic Park (at first anyway) that it seems almost entirely derivative. Once the main story gets underway, it does depart a little from that similarity, but that is no good thing in this case. I really enjoy fast paced thrillers where dangerous events and drama force the reader to suspend their disbelief. What these kinds of plots need though, are moments of calm within the storm, where the main characters can gather their thoughts, detect patterns and plan a resolution. This is entirely lacking in this book: the drama comes thick and fast, and before characters have recovered from one danger, the next is upon them. This, unfortunately, leads to the story feeling well beyond suspension of disbelief.
The story would also have benefited from more build up of tension before the inevitable dragon attack. Personally, I would have liked more hints at the impending doom before it struck, to allow the reader to feel a sense of tension before the chaos begins. My advice: stick to Jurassic Park and give this a miss.