Thursday, 2 October 2014

Book Review: Zoo by James Patterson

All over the world, brutal animal attacks are crippling entire cities. Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the impending violence becomes terrifyingly clear.

With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it's too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide.

My Review: 
I loved the Alex Cross books despite not liking crime novels as a general rule. I liked a few of the other novels that he has written in different genres. What they all have in common is good solid writing, interesting plots and characters you care about. Sadly this book was lacking on all three fronts and was a huge disappointment.

Lets start with the good bits. I liked the way the book opened with the lion attack though I felt it could have been a bit more exciting. I liked the idea of the animals turning against humans and man becoming the hunted species. 

Now the bad. The main character who is our beloved hero is just an irritating, sexist, annoying asshat. And those are his good features. Oz is a smug, self obsessed idiot whose constant motivation is to prove that he was right and others are wrong. His 'woe is me, I'm so hard done by' attitude was grating on my nerves about three pages after he was introduced. We get him moaning and complaining about nobody taking his theory seriously for chapter after chapter and I was looking forward to him getting mauled by something nasty. Death by anaconda perhaps or a nice shark...Fantasies aside, I hated him more as the book progressed. And of course the uber sexy scientific expert that he happens to meet and save in Africa just falls in love with him ten seconds later. I have no idea what she sees in him but from him we got the continual smug comments about how hot this babe was. He was only interested in her intelligence and credentials when it backed up his theories and made him look less like a moron.

As for plot, there were some great big holes that were pretty annoying. So Oz is unhappy that nobody believes his theory that animals are starting to see humans as prey-yet he keeps a male chimp confined in his apartment? Firstly, an animal lover should know that chimps should not be kept as human pets and taught cute human habits. They should be living in monkey communities and taught monkey behaviour. He admits to being so obsessed with his theory that he is losing everything-his career, girlfriend etc yet he still keeps a wild animal in his apartment and asks other people to look after him while he jets around the world? Buddy, if your theory is correct, your pet is dangerous to everyone yet you expose untrained people to him on a regular basis! Of course, events prove him to be right and put people he knows in real danger. The so called sex scene was horribly written and made me cringe. I'm so glad it was edited so that we didn't get most of the details. I also got very annoyed at the sudden decision to just skip out five years of plot just as the animal attacks were starting to pick up pace. This was the last straw and I had had enough.

The writing was really dreadful. The story did not flow well, the descriptions were unclear and confusing, and the initial animal attacks lacked tension and interest. To say that I was shocked by the shoddy work displayed here was an understatement and I expected so much more from an author with a flair for storytelling and character development. The other thing that really bugged me was how long it took to get to what I thought was the plot. Reading the back of the book, it sounds like animals are meant to be rampaging down your street attacking every human in sight. Well we spent so long on Oz and his one man ego trip that hardly anything significant had happened in the urban environment after242 pages-and that's when we skip five years. Great. 

Add that to the lack of an ending and this whole book felt like a giant waste of my time. I don't recommend it to anyone and I will think twice before picking up anything except Alex Cross by this author in the future. I expected so much more from him and it is always sad when a book that you really loved the sound of is such a let down.  
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