Saturday, 21 May 2011

Zambesi by Tony Park

I read Zambesi on the recommendation of my friend, whose husband adores these books.
The Story is about Jed Banks whose daughter Miranda is apparently eaten by a man-eating lion. Jed, an American soldier, goes off to Zimbabwe to investigate the incident. On the way he of course encounters great danger and meets many people, who both hinder and help him. He teams up with Christine Wallis his daughters boss and they attempt to resolve the mystery, having many shocking discoveries along the way.

I am really in two minds about this book. I loved the idea and the plot, the story was great. Fast paced with lots of action, many twists and turns it really kept me glued to the end. Although I had kind of guessed some parts of the ending there were enough surprises that it didn't really matter.
What I found difficult about the books was the way he wrote. I wouldn't like to say it was a badly written book, because I really don't think it is. He keeps the story going, there is not too much extra stuff happening in the book and the pace is excellent. It is more the feelings I got when reading the book. I really didn't like any of the characters, there was nobody who stood out. The hero came across as the typical arrogant American*, come to save the world. Christine Wallis was even worse, I wanted to give her a slap, she refuses to co-operate at all, even when being secretive and difficult very obviously makes things worse. Obviously you can't like the bad guys, lol. Maybe I am a romantic, but I find that I can identify with the book more if there is at least one character I do like. Also, having read that the author was an Australian who had spent some time in Southern Africa I thought he would have more of an understanding about the area. He painted it in a very bad light and didn't seem to like it at all. It was full of stereotypes and seemed to only scratch the surface. I know that South Africa has an extremely high crime rate, but the parts set in Johannesburg made me laugh. He makes it out to be the Wild West, I have spent a lot of time in Johburg and never seen people behave the way he made it out. I just wondered why if he seemed to dislike a place so much you would bother to write a book about it? In the interests of fairness, he was writing from the perspective of a newcomer to Africa, so it could be that he was trying to bring that out.
Having said that I did enjoy the book and did finish it, and will definitely read more of his books.

*(Please don't anyone get offended about me talking about the "typical American" I know that 99% of Americans are not like that, I was just talking about the way they tend to be portrayed in a lot of movies and books)


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