4 out of 4 stars
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Zona: The Forbidden Land by Fred G. Baker is the fictional tale of expeditions into Northern Siberia to the land of Zona or the forbidden land. The narrator, Dr. Grant Taylor, travels to St.Petersburg, Russia, to deal with the estate of his Uncle, who is presumed to be dead following an expedition to the same region a year prior. Mystery ensues as Grant uncovers questionable items left behind by his Uncle that may expose the real reasons for the journey. After meeting some resistance from parties in Russia when pressed for details of the expedition, Grant decides to take it on himself to travel to Zona's land to figure out once and for all what happened to his Uncle.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. The book is exceptionally well-edited and is a captivating story that holds the reader's attention until the last page. The novel holds many surprises throughout, and while some elements of the story were predictable, the author did a great job of keeping us guessing until the end. The story travels across genres smoothly, shifting from mystery and intrigue to science fiction and fantasy while dabbling in romance. I felt the author did a great job of weaving together each of these areas into a single, believable storyline.
The relationship between the humans of the expedition and Zona's animals was one of my favorite elements of the story. The special relationship between the crew and the natural inhabitants turns the story to a borderline fantasy tale. Baker did a great job of painting the image of the animals and the danger they present with foreshadowing that had my heart racing the first time Grant and crew encountered the beasts.
While overall, I enjoyed this novel, I think perhaps the author spent too much time in the information gathering and pre-expedition phase. I felt that the time spent traveling through and exploring Zona was the most interesting and wish the author had gotten us there more quickly.
There are some overtly promiscuous scenes of the book that may be perceived as inappropriate by some readers. A logical explanation for the behaviors ensues; however, it can sometimes be uncomfortable to read due to the sheer number of individuals sexually interacting with each other. Aside from anyone easily offended by sexuality, the book will appeal to all individuals interested in science fiction, adventure, and mystery novels.
Zona: The Forbidden Land
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