ZooSummary: The latest graphic novel by renowned author James Patterson leaps off the page and goes straight for the jugular!
Animals the world over are setting their sights on fresh prey – man. Only biologist Jackson Oz has recognized the patterns in an escalating chain of violent attacks by animals against mankind, and these incidents are just the prelude to something far, far more terrifying. Now Oz is in a race against nature to try to warn humanity about the coming catastrophe, but is it already too late?!

Zoo, by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge and Andy MacDonald 7.75

‘Zoo’ is Andy MacDonald’s graphic novel version of James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge’s book. It’s about a young biologist who has been trying to prove his theory that changes in the environment have been affecting animal behaviour. He calls this HAC (Human Animal Conflict), and years have bore no fruit: no one will listen to him.

One day, he gets a call from a colleague asking to join him in Africa, where a lion attack could finally prove that he’s been right all along.

I honestly had no idea what to expect with ‘Zoo’. I hated the title and the cover didn’t inspire me much, but it came recommended by a one of the clerks at the local library so I decided to give it a whirl as soon as I got it – despite having plenty of other things on my plate. It not only entertained me and made me think, but in the process I discovered famed author James Patterson.

I don’t know where I’ve been, but it is claimed that James Patterson has sold more than 250 million copies of his novels – more than  Stephen King, John Grisham and Dan Brown combined. Holy smokes! Isn’t that insane? I mean, even though I haven’t read Grisham and Brown, at least I know about them. So why is it that Patterson remained off my radar for so long? Too weird…

Anyway, in ‘Zoo’ he put together a story for our times, highlighting the way that we relate with the environment. As I read through it, I wondered who this person was who actually got a bestseller about the environment at a time when climate-deniers seem more rabid and more numerous than ever. How did he manage to reach so many people with such a plot, with a concept so easily dismissed?

In my case, it tapped into my concern for the environment, which is based on the erosion of our natural resources, extinctions on a growing scale, and increasingly unusual weather conditions – all indicative of a problem. It also addresses humanity’s disregard of these issues at all turns in the name of convenience, always waiting until we are directly inconvenienced or when we,re at the cliff’s edge before we act.

So, basically, it positions my fears with a genuine reality, and wraps it up in a relatively plausible scientific explanation – of the kind that novelists frequently indulge in (ex: ‘Jurassic Park’), and that can likely be discredited by actual scientists. But it makes one think. It makes you wonder if there might be something to it. And if only by virtue of this it makes the book well worth reading.

Plus which, it’s a pretty good ride. After all, we are talking about a disaster story with a countdown to extinction… for the human race. I don’t know what it is about such stories, but I tend to find them particularly engrossing. Is it because it’s a survival story, because of the scope, or because of some sort of morbidity? I don’t know, but I blame ‘The Towering Inferno’ for it.

I discovered ‘The Towering Inferno’  when I was a kid, while visiting my aunt’s place. It was playing on the telly, late at night, and the lot of us was bundled up in front to watch as the massive cast dealt with being trapped inside an architectural “Titanic” – a purportedly perfect man-made creation whose flaws put the lives of many in jeopardy. I had never seen anything like it, and relished every moment of it.

So I think that the appeal of disaster stories is rooted in nostalgia for me. But why are they as massively popular with the public as it is? It’s not just zombie plagues or sinking ships, it’s also airplane emergencies, car pile-ups, earthquakes, volcanoes, environmental collapse, Mayan calendars, alien invasions, …et cetera, et cetera. They all amount to major popular appeal. Why is that?

Anyway, Patterson’s book has just the right formula to satiate fans of the genre. MacDonald’s adaptation is serviceable: decent black and white art with minor presentation issues, and a good flow. I suspect that the novel would be better, but I’ve heard that Patterson’ writing leaves to be desired – despite his massive popularity. I’d easily suggest this graphic novel version as a first taste, and, sincerely, look forward to a movie version someday.

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