Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

It will be available on January 27, 2015.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

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. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…


I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from The Great Zoo of China, but a wild, action-packed, guilty-pleasure of an adventure wasn’t it.

In a play for cultural dominance, China has spent years building a secret zoo that will put them ahead of every other nation, especially the United States. What kind of great zoo could be a bigger draw than Disneyland? A great Dragon zoo! Those in charge of the zoo invite Chinese diplomats and American journalists to preview the zoo before it opens. It starts off well, but for all of us who have read or seen Jurassic Park, we know it can’t possibly last for long.

My problem with this book is also one of it’s strengths. It is a very action-driven novel. After the first several chapters of explanation of how the dragons were discovered, contained, and could co-exist safely with humans in the confines of the zoo, the action completely took over. The next couple hundred pages contained more dragon attacks, buildings crumbling, and people being eaten alive than I thought was possible in one book. While it was very descriptive and fun for awhile, I got over it pretty fast.

I’m definitely a reader that appreciates character-development more than anything else and there wasn’t a lot of it in this book. Our main character got one background story to explain the scar on her face and it’s implied that her photographer younger brother is a party boy, but other than that, almost all the other human characters could be interchanged with each other. Besides the humans, though, there are also several dragon characters, one of which is more developed than the rest (the way she’s developed is the reason this book falls into the guilty pleasure category).

While I thought the description was very well written, I also thought there was an overabundance of italicized words and exclamation points.  All I could think about was that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine gets mad at her boyfriend for not putting an exclamation point in his phone message.


Overall, though, I thought The Great Zoo of China was a fun, guilty-pleasure type of read. It’s not something I would read every day, but it was definitely something fun to start out the new year. I would recommend it to fans of Jurassic Park and those that love action-heavy novels.

3 stars

9 thoughts on “Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

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  3. Sounds like an interesting premise for a story. It’s a shame about the character development. It sounds like that let the book down. I’ll give it a read at some point, I think. And you’ve just reminded me that I really need to read Jurassic Park .Saw the film, curious about the book.

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