This Chick Read: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

This book was the best action movie I have ever read.  Yes, you read that right! And why hasn’t this been made into a movie Mr. Spielberg?   As the  book was picked for my book club to read and talk about, that was the first thing out of our mouths…why isn’t this a movie yet?  Ok, there are similarities to Jurassic Park, but there were enough differences that I think someone should take that chance.  The excitement literally started about 25 pages in, and it, did, not, stop!  Four hundred pages later, I was amped, ready to tell someone, anyone, how great this book was.  Fortunately for me, I had a captive audience!  My husband, was stuck in a car with me, taking a road trip to visit my family.  I regaled him with Matthew Reilly’s fantastic tale about The Great Zoo of China, dragons existing, having an extreme intelligence and, trying to break out of this cage that the Chinese have built.  Pitting their size, dominance, and intelligence against the technology and small mindedness of the Chinese who are trying to use them to become a world leader.  I was probably speaking disjointedly, and not making much sense, but he was very supportive, nodding his head in agreement.

The following synopsis comes directly from the author’s website,

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed.

The Chinese are ready to unveil their fabulous creatures in the greatest zoo ever constructed. VIPs and journalists, including reptile expert Dr Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, are invited to see the beasts for the first time.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they are perfectly safe, that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

One of the questions we asked each other in our book club was if there could have been another country the author could have used to be the evil genius in this novel.  We all decided that for today’s world, China was the perfect fit.  Like their evil predecessor (in spy fiction/movies), Russia, they are a Communist country.  Coming from a democratic country, it is easier to believe the evil in a dictatorship.  China also seems to have a HUGE amount of wealth, and would need that money to pull off and maintain the building of a self contained world to hold a fantastical animal that would dominate those weaker than it.  Also, with that vast wealth and dictatorship we all agreed that they could keep this a secret, which would be unlikely in a world with social media and free speech.  There was one line from this book, that, for us, gave instant disparity between our two countries, and cast China into a disfavorable light.  I’m going to paraphrase, but the line was something like, in China, it is ok for a company to beat its workers.  Yeah, that is just evil, and even if that isn’t true, it made the storyline, and the fact that all of these people knew, but kept it a secret,and believable.

The author sets us up with a strong female heroine, CJ Cameron, a kind of Crocodile Dundee, knowing almost everything here is to know about those amphibians, who, yes, you guessed it, are closely related to dragons.  I loved CJ and want to be her when I grow up!  When the dragon shit hits the fan, CJ’s instincts kick in and she manages to keep her small group of Americans alive, when both the dragons and her Chinese hosts are trying to kill them.  Even though this is not a comic book, she, in her entirely selfless way, becomes a superhero, saving grown men and small children alike.

The dragons in this book were well fleshed out characters, with personality, evil and good intent, and made the pages come alive.  CJ was my favorite character by far, but her sidekick, Lucky (a dragon) was the favorite character for several people in my book club.  We all also agreed that another thing that made this book so believable was that when they got down to the factual reason that dragons do exist, it seemed completely believable! Except for the fact that there were a group of them that were totally evil, I wouldn’t mind having a dragon like Lucky flying the friendly skies in my neighborhood.


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Copyright 2016 Deborah Kehoe A Chick Who Reads All Rights Reserved