Zoo 2: A BookShot (Zoo #1.5), by James Patterson and Max DiLallo

Seven stars

As I leap into the foray of James Patterson’s BookShots, I thought it best to start with a story based on a full-length novel I read years ago. Zoo was quite the phenomenon when it was published, positing what the world might be like if animals turned on humans through a pheromone-triggering set of cerebral changes. In this story, Jackson Oz is living in quasi-seclusion with his family in Greenland. His wife, Chloe, and son, Eli, have been able to adapt, though they are far from pleased with the isolated living situation. When the US Department of Energy reaches out to Oz, he is intrigued by the new approach to the HAC (human-animal conflict), focussing on scientific rather than military options. Oz chooses to leave Chloe and Eli in Paris with her family while he jets around the world to various locations, gathering evidence and samples that might help reverse or minimalise the effects overtaking the world. While in South Africa, Oz and the rest of the scientific group discover a feral human, wondering if things have morphed into the human realm. Further proof emerges in other parts of the world, which is the newest concern and adds new urgency. When Chloe and Eli’s time in Paris is compromised, Oz does all he can to reunite with them at a rural laboratory, while dodging feral humans at every turn. With the President of the United States demanding answers, Oz must find a way to tame the feral human issue before the entire world is overrun, leaving the ‘healthy’ contingent as a minute minority. An interesting follow-up to the original novel and worth the few hours of invested time to read.

I remember when I read ZOO and how I had a hard time suspending enough reality to completely enjoy the book. When I saw this BookShot, I thought I ought to give the idea another chance, knowing that I would not need to invest too much time to see what I thought. Patterson and DiLallo present an interesting concept in the continual fight between animal and humans, seeking to approach things from a scientific perspective. With much action and a high degree of drama, combined with short chapters and some plausible characters, I found myself somewhat intrigued to see how things would play out. Still in that realm of science fiction, I am able to keep a mind open enough to muddle through this piece. The BookShots idea is interesting, as Patterson lures readers with a short story to whet their appetite or bridge things between two full-length novels. I can see this lining his pockets as he continues with more co-author pieces, though their quality remains something for readers to judge over the next year or two.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DiLallo for this interesting idea. I may not be hooked on the HAC idea, but the effort leaves me curious to see what else might be on offer.