4 of 5 Stars
Iain Rob Wright is a young writer, from the UK, who's making a name for himself in the Horror and Thriller genres. And Animal Kingdom, from late 2011, is a fine example of taking an original idea and running with it.
For reasons unknown, a day at the zoo turns deadly when the animals unite to start killing humankind. There are plenty of encounters between the survivors, trapped in the zoo's administration building, and the creatures that once made up the zoos exhibits.
Given time, those trapped at the zoo learn that this is not an isolated incident, but is affecting all animals around the country, perhaps it's even a global catastrophe.
One of the things I really liked about Wright's story was the character study that developed from placing a number of people from diverse backgrounds in a closed environment. Granted it seems a bit contrived, but it really facilitates the conflicts essential to the work and makes it so much more than us against the animals.
You have a Father and Son, Joe and Danny, visiting the zoo as part of Danny's weekend of visitation with his Dad. There's also a zookeeper, a business man only interested in himself, a black gay man, a racist Scotsman, a religious nutcase and a romantic interest for Danny's Father, who is not without her own personal issues.
At times the situations seem a bit forced, construed to advance the story, but make little sense outside that context.
That aside, Wight did a good job of keeping the action moving and I found myself getting angry with and empathizing with his characters and the things that happened to them and the way they would deal with their situations. I think that's a true compliment to any writer.
Although we never learn what caused the animals to group together and set out to kill all the humans, Iain has included several short stories after the main novel, all set in the same world as Animal Kingdom. Each short sheds light on some aspect of the main tale. Including one that offers a bit of an explanation of what happened that might have caused the animals to turn.
Currently available as a paperback and for the Kindle from Amazon.com. If you are an Amazon Prime member you can borrow the book for free from the Amazon Prime Kindle Lending Library.