Z Raptor by Steve Cole
Red Fox, 2011.
(Ages 11+) Recommended. The second in a trilogy, Z Raptor continues the high octane adventures of thirteen year old Adam Adler and his scientist dad. In this episode (and I use the word wisely as this is a highly cinematic story) Adam and his friend Harmony become entangled once again with Geneflow, the evil biogenetic company that in true James Bond style is determined to take over the world and will eliminate anyone who stands in their way, especially teenagers.
Much of the action takes place on a tiny Pacific Island and Cole successfully creates a doom filled, suffocating setting for his band of intrepid heroes and the raptors they must defeat. Geneflow has generated two breeds of raptors - the Brutes and the Vels who fight each other and also try to kill the beleaguered humans who are being chased and cornered in preparation for a dinosaur feast of epic proportions.
These are genetically modified raptors, capable of using binoculars, hand grenades (the island is a former military post) and tactical strategy to destroy their enemies. Only one of the Z Raptors, Loner appears to be on the side of the humans. He can speak and seems to experience human-type emotions; a dinosaur that feels guilty! There are surprising similarities between Loner and Zed, Adam's nemesis in Z Rex. Could the same technology have created both, and if so can Adam really trust Loner?
In a marvellous twist Loner forces Adam into an impossible situation that will either risk his Father's life or mean certain death for the people who have protected him on this terrifying island. I became completely immersed in the roller coaster plot as Cole constantly pulls twists and turns out of the hat like the masterly conjuror he is.
There are all kinds of ideas here which will appeal to techie readers - ThinkSend technology allows gamers to play with the power of their mind. (I'm sure the reality is just around the corner.) This may just drag young teenagers away from their X Boxes and Play Stations sufficiently to find that books too can provide total immersion and nail biting excitement. Certainly the sense of pent up fear and suffocating heat just oozes off the page and there are plenty of vivid, if gory descriptions of dinosaurs fighting each other and the stranded humans.
Fans of Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore and Charlie Higson will snap this up. And with a third to look forward to I'm sure Steve Cole will provide an explosive finish.