Yep, this pair of novel for middle grades is just that – one step beyond Jurassic Park. Woah.
by Steve Cole
ISBN: 978 0 399 25253 2 Rex
978 0 399 25254 9 Raptor
Audience: grades 4-7, especially great for boys
Z Rex opens with Adam fighting monsters in an Ultra-Reality game his father designed, right before his father disappears, and keeps the action driving forward from there as Adam tries to figure out what happened to his father and keep himself and a Z Rex from getting caught or killed by the agents of a mysterious experimental company.
And what is a Z Rex, you might understandably ask? It’s one of Geneflow’s experiments at melding multiple traits with dinosaur DNA to create the ultimate extermination machine, a dinosaur artificially evolved into a thinking, strategic being with some extra-special traits. And surprise! It’s not quite turning out as planned. Now Geneflow wants to terminate the monster and use Adam as leverage to force his father to continue his programming work, and Adam and the Z Rex are on the run together.
In the second book, missing people lead to a secret island laboratory where Geneflow is working on another project, this time with raptors. This time, Adam and his father, along with a rogue FBI agent, so to try to shut down the operation and save the captive humans. It is once again full of heart-pounding action and edge-of-your-seat moments, and like Z Rex, stars one dinosaur who recognizes the advantage of partnering with the humans, creating one sympathetic reptile, at least.
These books are, of course, all kinds of ridiculous, and require a suspension of disbelief that can kindly be described as willful. But they are also a whole lot of fun as a crazy, over-the-top action read and truly, that and dinosaurs put together? It may be the perfect formula for reluctant boy readers in grades 4-6.