I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Not an awful book, but for me, it somehow missed the mark. I was glad to have a female main character, but was disappointed that she was some kind of female Terminator or Jack Reacher, a biologist who not only knew how to make and use flame throwers, but could cling to speeding vehicles and McGyver her way out of every situation. It would appear that the author made her female just so she could be better at “bonding” with animals—you know the old story, women are closer to nature than men, blah, blah, blah. Talking to the snake in Eden, and all that malarkey.
I was glad that I read Jurassic Park just before I started The Great Zoo of China, as JP is obviously a major influence for this author. I’ve read a few reader responses—it’s either an homage to JP or a rip-off, depending on your point of view. It certainly has many, many of the same elements, including the illustrations of computer screens.
It started out well. The dragons were interesting animals, their social structures were complicated, their senses and behaviours intriguing. But when the plot took a turn towards Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, that’s where I let go and couldn’t regain my respect for the narrative.
I also must confess that I thought it was entirely too easy to make the Chinese government and army into the evil, evil bad guys without any redeeming qualities, with or without the equally awful Westerners that chose their side of the operation.
But that’s just me—others may love this combination of Jurassic Park and Pern. It’s a quick read and definitely a page turner, so you haven’t wasted much time if you try it to see how you like it.