4 out of 4 stars
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Zona: The Forbidden Land by Fred B. Baker is a book from the science fiction genre, intertwined with fantasy elements.
When explorer Randall Taylor fails to return from his latest expedition, his nephew is tasked with settling his uncle’s estate. Soon, Dr. Grant Taylor, a geologist, travels to Saint Petersburg, Russia to carry out his task. The executor of the estate, Boris Ustinov, both Randall’s attorney, and friend, informs Grant that his uncle has been missing for over a year and is presumed dead. Ustinov’s niece and legal aid, Irina, is assigned to assist Grant in settling his uncle’s estate. While cleaning Randall’s apartment, Grant soon learns that it holds mystifying clues, which he withholds from Irina and others. Grant begins to decipher these clues, learning more about his uncle’s expedition to the area known as Zona, also known as The Forbidden Land, located in Siberia. Randall’s expedition to Zona was not successful, with only one known survivor, Colonel Max Volkov. Colonel Volkov has established a new team ready to explore Zona and its surroundings in a recovery expedition.
As Volkov is preparing for his expedition, a romance is kindled between Grant and Irina, despite the uneasiness Grant feels towards her. Plagued by a series of troubling events in Russia, Grant and Irina soon find themselves part of Volkov’s expedition team. The recovery expedition to Zona begins, the team unaware of the mysterious details pertaining to the nature of Randall’s expedition, the dangers they will face, and the discoveries they will make along the way. Will the recovery expedition be a success? Will Grant find closure in his uncle’s presumed death?
The mystery surrounding Zona is captivating. The author provides a detailed storyline with appropriately timed plot twists that further heighten the mystery, suspense, and action evident throughout the book. The characters are fully developed and evolve as a result of their experiences. This evolution is paramount as their expedition proceeds. I was further captivated by the unusual animals that inhabit Zona. Like the human characters, the author develops the animal characters in a brilliant manner.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. While this book is mysterious, there were one or two instances where it seemed the author revealed details that solved a mystery early-on. I would have preferred to remain in suspense longer or have additional details revealed as the storyline progressed. Despite this criticism, these instances are not a distraction from the suspense nor do I feel that they would deter a reader from enjoying the book.
Readers who enjoy science fiction, mystery, and fantasy genres would find themselves enthralled with Zona: The Forbidden Land. I personally feel that the science fiction portion of this book is outweighed by the mystery and fantasy aspects of the storyline. In addition, those with a scientific background or interest would find themselves intrigued by the biological, geological, and botanical references made throughout the book.
It should be noted that this book contains several instances of profanity, adult content, and graphic descriptions of death or dying. For this reason, I would recommend that this book be reserved for mature or adult readers. Furthermore, I would not recommend this book to individuals with strong religious convictions, sensitivity towards themes of violence towards animals and/or humans, or those that may be bothered by descriptions of what some would consider deviant sexual behavior.
This book was well written and professionally edited with only one grammatical error noted.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars and would be pleased to see a sequel from the author.
Zona: The Forbidden Land
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