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Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

What if you were invited to a special behind the scenes visit to a theme park greater than Disneyland? That’s exactly what happens in Matthew Reilly‘s latest novel, THE GREAT ZOO OF CHINA. Veterinarian and crocodile expert CJ Cameron gets invited to get a preview of the new Zoo of China–where the main attraction is genuine, living dragons.

Of course, these creatures are perfectly safe to interact with, and the safety measures are foolproof. Nothing could possibly go wrong…..


This book started out at a normal pace, and then jumped into overdrive, where it stayed until the last page. When CJ and her traveling companions started getting attacked by the dragons, it was like a roller coaster ride that kept on twisting, and twisting, and turning you upside down until you couldn’t catch your breath. There were so many narrow escapes and close calls I wondered if my heartbeat was ever going to go back to normal.

The comparison to JURASSIC PARK may be inevitable (and the author addresses that in the Q&A session at the back of the book), but it’s not exactly the same.  Where the dinosaurs were meant to merely be watched, Reilly’s dragons were intended to be interacted with, and were trained to act as sideshow creatures, much as the dolphins at SeaWorld are. I thought the rebellion of the dragons against their training was a good impetus for the uprising, plus the hubris of the Chinese to make the rest of the world prostrate themselves in awe at their zoo added to the chaos. I think ZOO has way more action than PARK, and the choice of CJ as the main character was brilliant. There are not enough strong, smart, resourceful female characters in action novels, and she continually kicks major ass all the way through, without losing her femininity.

Reilly’s description of the park’s construction and the Chinese mindset are dead on. I could picture each dragon swooping down, hell bent on destruction, striking terror into the characters’ souls. The seeming inevitability of CJ’s fate, either by dragon or firing squad, kept me enthralled. With so much action and death surrounding the characters, the addition of Lucky, and her burgeoning companionship with CJ added a light and heartwarming juxtaposition to the non stop action. CJ”s brother Hamish provides comic relief also, and the relationship between them is written well enough that it seems truly real.

I completely enjoyed this book, and would love to see CJ as a recurring character in another novel. I”ll also be on the lookout for more of Reilly’s books.

Want your own copy? Click [easyazon_link asin=”1476749558″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link] to get on the rollercoaster! This book will be published on January 27th, 2015.