I’m not usually a thriller reader – I’ve read the biggies, like Dan Brown and, of course, I’ve seen all the Indiana Jones films but I certainly wouldn’t say I was any kind of aficionado. Matthew Reilly, then, was just a name I’d seen on books at the till or while shelving until my eye was caught by The Great Zoo of China.
There are a lot of thrillers out there with plots that are, usually, more or less unrealistic. Thrillers cover everything from spy novels to Arthurian history – if there is excitement and a villain then it could be called a thriller. Explosions are a bonus. Dragons, however, usually equal fantasy (or, in the case of Anne McCaffrey, science fiction) and this is what drew me to the Great Zoo.
This book has been described as Jurassic Park with dragons and I would agree with this – and it is definitely not a bad thing. There is usually, as I said, something slightly larger than life about books (and films) in this genre but there does seem to need to be some kind of reality for us to connect to – because of the Chinese setting the replacement of dinosaurs with dragons actually seems very realistic. And what is even more realistic is the way in which the Chinese government closes ranks when things, as you would expect, go wrong in their showcase, dragon-based theme-park.
This is an fast-paced book with a well planned plot. After a recent book-diet of literary fiction, historical novels and gritty crime it was a refreshing change – a dragon-flavoured sorbet to clear the palate as it were…