Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Challenges: NetGalley and Edelweiss ARCs | What An Animal
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | OmniLit* | iTunes* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:
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…
GET READY FOR ACTION ON A GIGANTIC SCALE.
First off, I love that cover. When I was looking up links, I found the book has been released with quite a few covers but this is far and away my favorite. That head, or is it a tail, weaving in between the letters of the author's name, the seal in the middle, the colors, all of it. Striking. That cover lured me in as did the title, then the blurb sold me.
I had a guess about the great secret and I was right! *happy dance* Some of the author's lore was off, especially the Chinese aspects, so I was surprised to see him say in an interview at the back of the book that he did a lot of research. Artistic license, I guess. Bah humbug. But that he put a lot of thought into his creations, there's no doubt. There's an incredible amount of detail. I don't know how spot-on his technological aspects are, but they came across as believable. The story weaves human pride and greed, the desire to play god, and the lure of forbidden knowledge with action, lots of action, violence, and some stereotypes. I've seen reviews that compared it to Jurassic Park and I had that same thought myself as I was reading it. There are definitely similarities, certainly in the themes. More than that and I'll be giving away spoilers.
While the book has lots of action and lots of cool technology, the character development is lacking. Particularly weak were the depictions of the Chinese people; Reilly relied heavily on cliches and stereotypes. Only one of the Chinese characters, an engineer, had any depth to him. The white characters were slightly better but really, you're reading for the action and not the people. I did like the heroine CJ, even if she was a little too perfect at times; smarter, kinder, more ethical than the evil Chinese. Twitch, twitch. There are also a fair number of implausibilities; the book requires a great deal of suspension of belief.
If you like a fast-paced story, with lots of action and cool technology, you can handle or are willing to skim over the gory parts (and there are many), and can overlook the poor character development and all of the cliches, pick up this book. It kept me engaged, I had to know what happened and who would live. It's flawed but enjoyable.