Review Blog

Nov 18 2009

Z.Rex by Steve Cole

cover image

Doubleday, 2009.
(Age 10+) Be careful not to confuse Z.Rex with Steve Cole's hugely successful Astrosaurs series. The latter are a fun filled romp, perfect for boys age 7 up. Z.Rex is made of sterner stuff - the sometimes bleak, but always action packed story of thirteen year old Adam who finds himself captured by a new breed of dinosaur - the terrifyingly intelligent Z.Rex. Zed is a complex creature, partly because his creator is Adam's scientist Dad, who actually embedded some of Adam's personality traits into the dinosaur. Just imagine a dinosaur seething with teenage hormones and you have the picture.
Adam's Dad is kidnapped as his work on Zed is infiltrated by the mysterious Geneflow, a company managed, unsurprisingly, by evil megalomaniacs. The chaos that follows is a rollicking ride of double crossing action, nail biting chases and vivid fight scenes. It makes an impressive, if at times gory read for upper juniors and lower secondary children.
Steve Cole's skill as a script writer for Dr Who is apparent in his cinematic action sequences and his ability to convey a strong sense of place. The second half of Z.Rex is set in Edinburgh and I could almost picture Zed pounding up Princes Street. Fortunately everything turns out OK, although Edinburgh Castle will never be the same again. In a neat ending Zed lopes off into the sunset, leaving the perfect set-up for a sequel.
Z.Rex can be read as a straightforward action adventure, but Cole does pose some interesting questions about the nature of consciousness, freewill and the responsibility that people have towards the animals (especially dinosaurs) that they are manipulating for their own ends.
The cover deserves a special mention - a terrifying dinosaur head in three-dimensional relief: inspired! I hope the publishers adopt the same style for the paperback edition. Display Z.Rex in your library and it will fly off the shelf - and hopefully be devoured.
Claire Larson

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