Dinosaur: 65 Million is the newest reality television program. If you can survive it, you can win it. How much? Sixty-five million dollars! All you have to do is carry sixty-five pounds of gear, work with seven team mates and travel sixty-five miles in the land of hungry tyrannosaurs, pteradons, triceratops, and carnotaurs. The audience will cheer you and watch your every move as you entertain them with your struggle to survive. Run, fight, and hide. You’re the star…
32 contestants, 4 teams, 2 weeks, limited supplies. The first team to reach the finish get $5 million each and other survivors home get $1 million. The bad news is that you have to avoid being eaten by the dinosaurs and there are a lot of them! It is the ultimate new gameshow where volunteers apply to win big prizes in a newly created park which the public are about to see on screen for the first time. Welcome to Dinosaur 65 million!
We start with a bit of an info dump as we are introduced to the players and the team, with the hosts Bert and Analisa. It actually makes a change to have a host who is not a slimy nasty guy, and Bert feels uncomfortable with his job, the steriotype players and making jokes about people who are probably about to die. I actually liked him and he does feature throughout and seems to be a good person overall. Analisa is the steriotype beautiful hostess but again she is reasonably likeable and finds it easier to just get on with her job when Bert struggles with his conscience.
Our main focus in the beginning is the green team and I liked most of them. Susan is an expert on herbs and is quickly making herself useful by spotting those that are edible or can be used for bug repellant and healing. Ruby makes friends with a group of compys and one becomes her new pet who she decides to carry with her. Jack is the capable Alpha leader and I liked the three of them a lot. I also liked Jeremy from the red team who was relied upon to do the worst of the tasks and was unflinching in his duty. There weren't many characters you didn't like though of course you didn't get time to get to know some of them before they died, which is kind of the point in having so many characters to start with! The in fighting is very minor and I'm glad it wasn't taken too far as that can sometimes spoil these books. In this case, the odd bit of bitching recedes as they enter each dinosaur area.
I loved the dinosaurs! The T Rex attack sequence was a complete and satisfying gorefest which pits the greens and reds against the dinosaurs. It was a very tense action scene and the first big disaster that the teams had to face, and now they all realise exactly what they signed up for. I liked that when a team got into trouble, rival teams were trying to help them instead of take advantage of it for their own means. We see a lot of characters step up during the difficult times and show what they are made of, even those you thought were a waste of space when you first met them. The team work was a bit of a surprise but I think it added a bit more depth to the book and made it more enjoyable. It wasn't just T Rex who was to be feared in this book as there are plenty of scary pack dinosaurs to run away from!
The plot is interesting. It starts with everyone volunteering for different reasons. A few are the adventure types who are looking for the most extreme experiences. Some really need the money as they are living a poverty stricken life and can barely feed themselves or their families. Others want the fame of being on the show and compete to be the most liked by the viewers. However they quickly realise that they are in over their heads, with teams deciding that the only way any of them are going to survive is if they all become one big team, especially with the increasing death toll. Anger towards the TV audience for enjoying their torment also starts to take hold and they start to question the game itself. I'm not going to discuss the twists but they were pretty interesting!
The main focus of this book is the game and how to survive, and I found it interesting that the survivors were adapting quickly to the skills they needed and learning to make what they did not have. A few of them said that their living conditions, dinosaurs aside, were better than their old life on the outside. There are hints of romances between the characters but they are very much background and don't really affect the story in a bad way. I'm not a fan of romance but in this book it didn't bother me. There is also a mystery to solve which I think might become more significant later in the series.
Again, this is not a literary masterpiece but I never expected that from it. I was expecting a dinosaur packed adventure with just enough description to get you interested in the characters and the game, and that is what I got, so I was happy. It keeps you entertained, you do like some of the people and the dinosaur action is exciting with a few twists. Now that is good enough for me! If you like that SyFy channel B movie dinofest, you might well enjoy this.
Read November 2016.