3 out of 4 stars
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There was an enigmatic place within the depths of the Siberian arctic called Zona. This place was speculated to be the home of some unusual animal species and a peculiar ecosystem. The Russian government had sealed off this area for odd reasons. Dr. Randall Taylor, an avid explorer, wanted to study this area for over a decade. Boris Ustinov, Randall’s friend and attorney, assembled an expedition team to venture into Zona. He even procured government approval after a lot of haggling, and more than anything amassed substantial financial backing from private investors. Randall joined the team eagerly, but he had misgivings about the motive behind this expedition all along.
Dr. Grant Taylor, a university professor from Chicago, was in the beautiful city of Saint Petersburg. But the occasion was not joyous; he was there to execute the estates of his uncle, Randall, who had named Grant as his legal heir. During this estate process, doubts keep piling up in Grant’s mind about the mysterious disappearance of his uncle and his team. After a year and a half of no further clues, the court had declared Randall legally deceased. Boris and his niece Irina were helping Grant in the estate process. After some gripping spy thriller tropes, Grant and Irina were on an expedition team going to Zona for the second time. They had two aims. Achieve the objective of the first expedition and learn what happened to the first expedition team members.
Zona: The Forbidden Land is a sci-fi/fantasy fiction written by Fred G. Baker. This story is an adventure thriller set in Saint Petersburg and Siberia. This book combines three genres: spy thriller, science fiction, and fantasy. Everything might or might not be smoke and mirrors; friends can turn into foes and vice versa in a heartbeat. Along with Grant, readers will also have a remarkable experience. Read this book to take part in a dangerous adventure filled with threats, spies, romance, redacted files, large animals, weapons, and enchanted fantasy.
The book seemed well edited as I didn’t find any typos or errors. There was so much to learn from this book. Fred introduced me to the culture, food, and architecture of Saint Petersburg. I also went on an exotic tour in Russia through Grant. The descriptions about the dreaded Sheba pass were frightening. I also learned the technical details of undertaking a risky science expedition. The descriptions of maps, secret letters, geographical details, weapons, vehicles, gear, tents, and clothing were meticulous. And not to forget, the details about animals and plants were through.
There was excessive overt foreshadowing, blatant red herrings, and delusive suspense in the first third of the story; this, in turn, slowed the overall pace. The prolonged part about the maid was futile. This story revolves around the protagonist, which is fair. But I felt like the story’s sole aim was to embellish the protagonist; this turned the protagonist into a conceited person. Considering the above-mentioned positives and negatives, I will rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
There were some unresolved mysteries, but I think the author is saving those for a sequel. The moral values dip into the grey area on some occasions, so keep that in mind. The violence and sexual content render this book unsuitable for young readers. Overall, the reading experience was enjoyable. I will recommend this book to readers who enjoy sci-fi and fantasy combination.
Zona: The Forbidden Land
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