In a dystopian future, a self-contained valley in Argentina serves as the 'far arena' for those convicted of a crime. Inside the Valley: carnivorous dinosaurs generated from preserved DNA. The goal: cross the Valley to get to the Gates of Freedom. The chance of survival: no one has ever completed the journey. Convicted of crimes with little or no merit, Ben Peyton and others must battle their way across fields filled with the world's deadliest apex predators in order to reach salvation. All the while the journey is caught on cameras and broadcast to the world as a reality show, the deaths and killings real, the macabre appetite of the audience needing to be satiated as Ben Peyton leads his team to escape not only from a legal system that's more interested in entertainment than in justice, but also from the predators of the Valley.
Prime Time have combined prisoner punishment with TV entertainment and produced a game show watched around the world. This is The Valley, where criminals earn a second chance in society if they can trek across 40 miles of rough terrain incluing forests, rivers and gorges to the exit gate with no time limit. Each person in the group of twelve has a pack, one with a map, some with weapons, some with food and water or other survival tool. Nobody has everything needed to survive, forcing them to act as a team. The other problem is that the game zone features a wide range of specially bred dinosaurs...
Ooh I loved the sound of this book and its cover! I loved The Running Man film, and I loved the Jurassic Park films. This combines both into a tension filled book with lots of dinosaur action, corrupt game show people and bloodshed! Can you just imagine getting the chance to watch a show where real criminals like serial killers, rapists and paedophiles get chased by bad ass dinosaurs? It would be a hit in most countries! Of course in this book our hero Ben is guilty only of giving his food ration to a friend whose family is starving, but when he appears on the show his crimes are said to be much more serious to get the crowd baying for his blood. However, not everyone is innocent and the people he has to trust include a serial killer and a Yakuza hitman.
So do you love dinosaurs? Of course you do, and we see a wide range of them in the game zone. T Rex, raptors, Spinosaurus, Kronosaurus to name just a few. The action is pretty much non stop as we switch between the group in mortal peril as dinosaurs attack them, and the TV production crew who track their movements and plan what is going to be coming their way next. Unknown to the group, a new breed of dinosaur is ready to be unleashed on them with very dramatic consequences. The book was an exciting read and you were always wondering what horror would be unleashed next and who was going to become dinner!
I liked the range of characters in the book. There is obvious mistrust between them, especially as the serial killer is with them and they know that he could attack anyone at any moment to save his own skin. I am a naturally suspicious person and I enjoy books where I can think about how might betray who or who will die next and this book kept me very happy on that aspect. I liked the group dynamic and the way they are forced to stay together, and I did like a few characters in particular. I liked having the impulse to shout 'RUN!' on more than one occasion, especially in the opening game to get them into The Valley. I also like the way the story changed as the end approached and all the twists that came with it.
Niggles? I was disappointed that we didn't get a chance to see the other game show in production by the company as it sounded brutal on a whole new level! Seriously, there was nothing that I didn't enjoy about the book. If you love dystopia, dinosaurs and psycho game shows, you will hopefully like this one! I really want to see this made into a film!