Zoo by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (Century)

TOTAL
For thirty-six years, James Patterson has written unputdownable, pulse-racing novels. Now, he has written a book that surpasses all of them. ZOO is the thriller he was born to write.
WORLD
All over the world, brutal 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.
DESTRUCTION
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.

James Patterson is an author who has a 50/50 track record with me, as some of his books that he puts out can be really fun but often they turn out to be underwhelming as was the case with the disappointing Zoo, that wastes a cool concept and fails to entertain, despite being a quick read that will have you flicking through the pages whether you like the book or not. I wasn’t too keen on the CBS series either and gave up after about four episodes, so I was hoping that the source material was better, but as it turns out it looks like CBS chose the wrong Patterson series to adapt.

I’m really surprised that they haven’t managed to get their hands on an Alex Cross series given their habit of putting out endless crime dramas, but that’s beside the point. Zoo is a bad book, full of unlikeable lead characters, underdeveloped protagonists and really, an overwhelming amount of stupidity that makes it really hard to recommend.

There seemed to be even more references to popular culture than your average Patterson novel and that’s saying something. The book feels incredibly racist and sexist and is one of the more uncomfortable Patterson novels that I’ve tried to get through as I really didn’t like how certain things were handled. The plot was barely interesting at all and although this book felt like a Patterson novel in terms of its usual style, it felt more like someone trying too hard to write a Patterson novel and failing. Is that because of the involvement of Michael Ledwidge? I’m not really sure who’s to blame on this one.

The narrative here tries to throw in the occasional funny lines but again it’s almost a feeling as though they’re trying too hard. Jackson Oz in particular, the main character is a principal example of this, and the stupid decisions that he makes include keeping a chimpanzee in his apartment even though he knows that all the animals are going to run wild. He makes many stupid decisions that we wouldn’t expect a scientist to make and it feels like there was hardly any research put into this book at all beyond a quick glance at Wikipedia, so those expecting a smart read, look elsewhere. This is a dumb read that reminded me of just how inconsistent Patterson can be at times.

If you go into this book expecting strong female characters then look elsewhere, they’re poorly developed and those that are there exist to act as supporting roles for Jackson Oz, who is flat and forgettable, and one-dimensional. No matter how much I like Patterson’s other work I simply can’t recommend this one, and if you’re looking for a good novel by the author go back and check out his early Alex Cross novels, stay way, way clear of this one.

VERDICT: 2/10

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