The Great Zoo Of China
Release Date: 12 February
515 pages | Hardback/ ebook Author: Matthew Reilly Publisher: Orion
Matthew Reilly says
that he’s “The world’s biggest Jurassic Park fan.” We believe him, because this is the world’s biggest piece of Jurassic Park fan fiction. It’s like he put a piece of tracing paper onto his telly.
The plot follows a mixed group of experts, journalists and social media gurus as they explore The Great Zoo – part of China’s attempts to be as culturally significant as their rival superpower, America, via their very own Disneyland. As in Jurassic Park, the experts are mischievously kept in the dark as to the zoo’s real nature. As in Jurassic Park, their jaws drop as the truth is revealed – dangerous, giant, lizard- like beasts ( here, there be dragons) have been bred in captivity for entertainment. As in Jurassic Park, things go wrong.
Reilly’s argued that because his story encompasses “The geopolitics of China” it’s original, but actually all that does is highlight the irony of what he’s doing. The book comments on China’s reliance on outside agencies: “It has nothing of its own. It makes other people’s stuff.” We imagine Michael Crichton would agree that’s a bad thing.
After a decent build, the narrative descends into one long chase sequence that’s as boring to read as it was exciting to watch. The picture- book politics, gory violence and sweary dialogue mean you can’t even give this to kids, making us wonder who exactly it’s for. Aside from the world’s biggest Jurassic Park fan, obviously. Sam Ashurst Matthew Reilly collects movie memorabilia. His collection includes a life- size replica of Han Solo in carbonite, and a DeLorean.