Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Jackson Oz was on the fast track at Columbia University, a PhD student going places - but then he noticed what he called HAC, and when he tried to make people listen to him his fast track derailed.  What is HAC you might ask, it's Human Animal Conflict, and over the years Oz has watched the numbers of animal attacks on people escalate, an ever increasing tide that no one else seems to notice.  On a trip to Africa he makes a mind blowing discovery that will change everything he knows about HAC, and will start a whirlwind of new ideas and new discoveries about HAC - ideas and discoveries that are mostly ignored by the main stream media and the government.  Fast forward and things are changing, the attacks are more frequent, and Oz is suddenly not the social and academic pariah he once was - but has the change come to late?

Zoo is an amazing read, one that totally blew my mind and also totally creeped me out.  For the past few years I have been reading books about the Human Animal Bond (HAB) or Human Companion Animal Bond (HCAB), and I have had the opportunity to hear some amazing speakers at the New Zealand Companion Animal Conference who have talked about the unique bond that people have with animals of all shapes and sizes.  This book blows so much of that out the window, not because of what the animals do, but the reasons that they do - the change in the relationship between animals and the people they have had strong bonds with.  In some places I was actually on the edge of my seat thinking no, no, don't do that, don't do it - or the classic horror movie moments of don't open that door!  I was truly on the edge for most of this novel, rushing through chapter after chapter because I just didn't want to put it down!

Calling Zoo science fiction is accurate for the genre (it is scientific "fact" that could be a fact in the future) but to call it science fiction is also almost insulting.  Without wanting to give too much of the story away, what happens is because of people, and it takes Patterson's book into the realm of authors like Michael Crichton who basically said that "we were so busy wondering if we could, that we didn't stop to think if we should".  People make massive changes in the world around us, changes that affect not only us but the wider environment and all the animals that live in it.  Zoo is a work of fiction (at least I seriously hope it is all fiction) but I can so see it happening in our future if we are not careful - we only have one world and we have to protect it.

While there is a strong message in this novel, it is also a gripping novel that is packed with the trademark Patterson action and suspense, and once again Zoo proves the strong writing chemistry between Patterson and Ledwidge.  You will take from this novel what you want - you can take a really strong novel with a fast paced plot and amazing action sequences, or you can take a book with a serious message that is also a damn good read - the choice is yours.

If you like this book then try:
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • Next by Michael Crichton
  • Meg by Steve Alten
  • The rats by James Herbert

Reviewed by Brilla

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