I am a huge fan of Michael Crichton’s books. I loved Jurassic Park, and Timeline. I don’t read much in that genre, but just got done reading The Great Zoo of China. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was excited to read it, the back of the book compared it to Michael Crichton’s writing.
So if in Jurassic Park, scientists had been able to recreate dinosaurs, in the Great Zoo of China, scientists were able to recreate dragons. Sound crazy? It is. I had a hard time really getting into the book, scientists had been able to recreate dinosaurs in Chriton’s world, because they had actually once existed – and they had some type of DNA to build upon. Dinosaurs are mythical creatures, so this book takes a great leap of faith in the possibility of of dinosaurs once existing – but being recreated in the present day.
In the beginning of the book is a comparison of China to some of the great things about the U.S. The question is posed: Is there anything unique about China? The scientists behind the zoo believe that this zoo could be that great thing – to compete with something like Disneyworld. There wouldn’t be anything like it in the world. This was probably the most interesting part of the book to me, and somewhat true too.
Their theory is that dragons had been able to stay alive since the Jurassic period (and also that dinosaurs and dragons are kind of cousins) because they had hibernated underground. Dragons were discovered in China, and some of the best scientists from around the world were brought in to design and build the zoo, and care for the animals. They had kept the zoo a secret for 40 years, and when they believed the zoo was ready for visitors, a group of scientists, dignitaries, and special guests were invited for the unveiling.
“What precisely is a dragon? The answer is actually quite simple. The animal we know as a dragon is a dinosaur, a most unique kind of dinosaur that survived the meteor impact that condemned the rest of its species to extinction.”
Believing in a zoo filled with dragons requires a leap, and when I began reading the book, I made that leap. I could kind of go along with the idea that there was a zoo filled with different types of dragons, but not what happened next. It definitely wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. At the end I thought, it actually wasn’t that good at all. I’m still looking for the next Crichton – I just haven’t found him yet!