In an interview at the back of this book, Matthew Reilly confesses that Jurassic Park is his favorite novel, the one that first inspired him to write, and that he wanted to make The Great Zoo of China as different from JP as possible to avoid comparisons. In order to do that, he set the book in China, made the purpose of the zoo about global economic domination instead of regular old capitalism, and made the group of outsiders touring the zoo journalists and politicians instead of scientists (though one of those journalists was also a scientist).
And yet, in spite of making those sweeping changes (snort!), Matthew Reilly wrote a 400-page Jurassic Park fanfic. With dragons. (The dragons are also dinosaurs. But trust Reilly. It’s totes different.)
Now, there’s nothing wrong with writing JP fanfic with dragons. It’s an awesome idea, and those who come just to see dragons run amok and kill people in various gruesome ways will not be disappointed. Unless you’re like me and the writing style drives you batty. I came for the dragons eating people. I stayed for the dragons eating people. The writing nearly ruined my mindless fun.
I’m not talking about the absurdity of the plot or the cartoonishly evil Chinese villains or the Rambo+MacGuyver+Steve-Irwin-but-with-tits main character. There are certain absurdities you sign up for in this kind of book and I fully expected to encounter (and revel) in those. No, I’m talking about Reilly’s style of storytelling.
This is the first Reilly book I’ve read (and honestly probably my last), so I don’t know if it’s an accurate representation of his style. It strikes me as the kind of lead-you-by-the-nose writing you find in books geared toward much younger audiences. First Reilly will show you something, then he’ll tell you what he just showed you, and then sometimes he’ll show and/or tell you again, just in case you didn’t get it yet. He’ll even throw totally unnecessary exclamation points into the prose just in case you couldn’t tell that people running from dragons that are trying to eat them is a tense and scary situation. My takeaway is that Reilly thinks his readers are at a 3rd grade level and he has zero faith in their abilities to retain information and read tone. Or he’s allergic to nuance and thinks everyone else is too.
One star for the dragons, one star for the people-eating action, no stars for the writing style.
Reading Progress Updates: