The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China Book Cover A Big, Bad and Bloody Good Time – 4 Stars

Most every Matthew Reilly novel has several things in common. Firstly, there are many characters but few are developed. Secondly, most of those characters will die in some bloody or spectacular manner. The first follows the second as there is too much dying to be done to overdevelop any one character. If this has your attention than you might be a Matthew Reilly fan. The Great Zoo of China is Reilly’s second recent work that strays from his two ongoing series. Well, technically, there was Troll Mountain but I was so thoroughly unimpressed, I pretend it doesn’t exist. While The Great Zoo of China has standard Reilly action, blood and destruction it is packaged differently from his other work.

Plot Summary

China invites a contingent of VIP’s from the United States as a well as contingent of journalists to document what they have called The Great Zoo of China. Among them is C.J. Cameron, the foremost expert in reptiles and specifically Crocodiles. Upon arrival at the zoo’s secluded location, the party is faced with a facility that dwarfs any zoo or amusement park in the world. The real surprise is that the zoo only features Dragons which the Chinese has rediscovered many years previous and had successfully hidden from the world. In Matthew Reilly style, the blood soon hits the fan as the Chinese are not as in control as they had believed.

Bloody, Bloody, Bloody

This book was freakin ridiculous AND freakin awesome! Think Jurassic Park meets How to Train Your Dragon. The author was attempting to create a wild scenario that could be plausible. I’m not sure he was successful in that regard but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the ride. Reilly has never been afraid to kill off a character or two…. or pretty much all of them. This is no exception. What is surprising is that he manages to make more it bloody than all of his other novels. This will be a major turn off for some readers. There is death on most every other page and the deaths come in various creative and gruesome manners.

The book moves at a breakneck speed and the last 3/4 of the book is essentially a very long chase scene. This is exactly what I am looking for in my Action Adventure novels. I most certainly am willing to suspend disbelief for a genre that is the Die Hard of the literary world. I did not have a chance to feel any boredom in the book as I spent most of the time trying to catch my breath.

I will say that I was a bit surprised in that Reilly DID spend some time on character development. The character of C.J. and later a friend who shall remain unnamed, were quite well developed. The unnamed friend was a very interesting inclusion, and while ridiculous it proved entertaining.

You can purchase The Great Zoo of China across North America on January 27, 2015.

    so get out there and preorder your copy today!

Since we are on the Ridiculous

If you have read any of Reilly’s Jack West Jr. novels, you will know that he is no stranger to the absurd. The book was filled with things that stretch the imagination and occasionally proved to be silly. Overall, this minimally impacted on my enjoyment of the novel. That said, Reilly does not always pay attention to the small details and seemingly hopes the reader fails to notice an inconsistency or ill fitting logic. There were quite a few through out the novel but one such inconstancy made me take notice. For your information, you CANNOT leave a puddle of liquid propane as a trap to be ignited. The boiling point of propane is -42.1 degrees Celsius. This means that it is only possible for propane to be in liquid form under much pressure. Liquid propane exposed to the air instantly boils and will likely cause you frostbite. Maybe the average reader won’t notice something like this. It just so happens that I had a propane licence for many years. My point is that attention to ALL the details is what sets good writers apart from great writers.

Final Thoughts

This is literary junk food. No doubt about it but man shall not live by bread alone. If you are in the mood for a candy bar in book form, this is a great choice. It is bloody, messy and absurd as well as fast paced, exciting and entertaining. A can’t miss combination in my opinion.


Sex 1

The closest this book gets to sex is a brief peck on the cheek. This book falls into the category of “No time for sex when the world is going to hell in a hand-basket”.


Mild Obscenities – 44 F-Words – 40 Religious Exclamations – 10

Violence 5

I have to give this a 5. It probably ranks as the bloodiest novel I have ever read. Granted, not all the blood is from the human species but there is enough blood to fill a small lake. The deaths tend to be quick but are often quite graphic. Its as if you passed a bloody car wreck at 120 km per hour (75 miles per hour for my American Friends) on the highway. You can tell it was gross but you were moving so fast it was hard to get the detail.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.