Posted in Books

Book Review: The Great Zoo of China, by Matthew Reilly

When one of my favorite authors releases a new novel, it usually gets top priority in my reading list. One such author is Matthew Reilly. I’ve read almost all his books, and have most of them in my shelf. When this book The Great Zoo of China came to my hand, the cover design itself gave me an idea of what to expect. The question was, would it live up to the billing and be a brilliant novel? Come on, bringing dragons into the picture, that was already a point in favor of the novel. A friend said – maybe it’s like Jurassic Park.

The prologue set the base for what I knew was to come. A death – to put forward the notion of more such deaths and more action scenes to come. And an introduction – to the character who is central to the novel, Dr. Cassandra Jana “CJ” Cameron. The determination and courage she shows in the novel is something that stood out for me. The novel itself is set on the notion of competition. What one nation has in favor of it makes the other envious. China, as its answer to Disneyland, brings forth a one-of-a-kind zoo called The Great Zoo of China. Its inhabitants – dragons. A lot of dragons kept from escaping by a large magnetic field. How China found them – read the novel to find out. But as humans, we underestimate other life-forms. And that mistake in this context leads to the dragons breaking free from the control of the Chinese, and letting loose carnage. The first thought of CJ and the rest is to escape, but realizing that the intention of the dragons are the same, they have to prevent that.

I do not mind a little over-the-top action in Reilly’s books. It’s something he has been criticized for before, and I have no doubt that he will be criticized for again. But the book, as usual, keeps me on the edge of my seat, turning pages to know what happens next. The way he brings out the evolution of the dragons, the different kinds and their choice of territory, the battle between kinds for territorial rights and such is quite brilliant. It shows his research on reptiles and their abilities, strengths as well as weaknesses to be excellent. And the political war that is being waged, that also is portrayed well. Given that the dragons demonstrate a certain strength earlier in the novel, the way some meet their ends is a bit unbelievable and leads me to question that; even more so when they are also portrayed as wise and tactical. Another thing that could have added more punch to the novel is a relationship aspect to make the fight for survival even more priceless, but CJ is portrayed as the strong and single type instead. But those are small points in what is otherwise, in my opinion, an excellent thriller.

Reilly has delivered a novel that will definitely be part of my favorites shelf, and one that I will read again soon. I await his next book eagerly.

The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
Book Details
Title: The Great Zoo of China
Author(s): Matthew Reilly Genre: Thriller
ISBN/ASIN: 9781409155591 Publisher: Hachette India

The review is done in exchange for a copy of the book provided by the publisher. No other payment has been accepted. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.

(© 31st August 2015)



Poetry and writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

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