Pros: Freaky, but intriguing, concept.
Cons: A few holes and a weird reason, but oh well.
The Bottom Line: It’s hard not to get at least a little weirded out while reading this book, and I was certainly a fan of the moral of the story.
Zoo is my first James Patterson novel, although to be fair I don’t know how much of this book he actually wrote. Given that Patterson is cranking out a novel practically every other month and that every single one of them has someone else’s name on it as well, for all I know most of this book was crafted by Michael Ledwidge.
But oh well. It’s a good story with an interesting premise, interesting bit of pivoting between third and first person point of view, and quite the satisfying ending.
The story in a nutshell: Animals are on a killing spree. They’re killing humans, and no one knows why. Only Jackson Oz seems to notice the pattern, but it may be too late before anyone believes him.
Oz is the only character to get the first person treatment. I’m not sure how this worked out between Patterson and Ledwidge, but it actually works. We get to be inside the head of the one guy who seems to know what’s going on while stepping back to view everything else, only peeking on occasion into the heads of other folks as well as animals.
This book keeps you on your toes in that you don’t know what’s causing the animals to attack. I mean, you quickly gather that it has something to do with scent, but beyond that your little mind is going to be boggled. When it’s finally revealed it seems kind of strange and I’m still not entirely sure that I’m buying what they’re selling. Especially when lions in the middle of Africa are freaking out – it seems like the ones way out in the wild would be the animals to not go berserk. The other hole includes the resolution to solve the problem (or at least, begin to solve the problem), and it starts to go away in a matter of a few days. But given that the issue is not just exterior but also involved in our sweet, sweet human skin, I don’t understand why it would. They would still smell us and that’s a problem. And with the thing so deeply embedded into every animal at this point….well…
…For the sake of the story, I hit the “suspend disbelief” button and went on my merry way.
Because it’s quite the unique ride. You want to know what’s happening. You get edgy every time an animal steps onto the page. I started to get a weird sort of feeling reading about dog packs and loyal dogs switching just like *that* and attacking their owners – all the while with my dog nestled against my leg all happy and snoozing. Meanwhile I’m sitting there thinking, “I just hope your little amygdale doesn’t get any bigger.”
I also really did enjoy the writing itself. Very descriptive, tense, and compelling, which made the book hard to put down. While I also don’t think the government could actively black out information about all the animal attacks given the sheer number of people with cell phones that have video capabilities and the insane, never-ending power of the internet (these days I know stuff before I ever see it on mass media just through Twitter alone), I was willing to overlook that, too.
So Zoo has its holes, but it’s too thrilling and different to ignore. And I think the moral of the story is pretty on point. We screwed up, but hey shit happens – except then we keep screwing up. The sad part? This does not surprise me. Not in the least. Because if there’s one thing that is true in life, it’s that humanity is f*cking stupid. There is a slice out there of folks that I know would follow the rules and be intelligent about the whole thing, but lets face it, most people would die just like they did in the book, some of which I would not feel sorry for. So the ending really worked for me, and in fact I probably would have been disappointed if suddenly, ah-ha! they came up with a cure for the whole thing and we all lived happily ever after.
I do feel sorry for the dogs, though.