Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This latest of Zindel's (Reef of Death) thrill-a-chapter adventure stories serves up mutant dinosaurs as the monsters du jour. The story--centered around a teenage boy's hunt for a baby raptor--is densely seasoned with sequences of giant reptiles snagging and devouring their prey ("Its rancid froth and ooze reeked with the rot of death...."). The cast of stock characters includes Professor Norak, the paleontologist who discovers a dinosaur egg but drops it when he is mauled by the mother raptor; Zack, his son, who retrieves the egg and sees it hatch; Uta, Zack's Native American sidekick; and Dr. Boneid, the evil scientist who doesn't mind destroying the environment in order to capture a dinosaur and win greater fame. When the hatchling is reclaimed by its mother, Zack goes after it, on an impulsive (and ill-planned) journey into a Utah cave (the raptors' den). The caper nearly costs him his life, but some strokes of good fortune and Uta's quick thinking save him in the end. The author's new wave of fans will probably gobble up this novel almost as quickly as the raptors tear into the victims; those more appreciative of Pigman-type fare will heave another sigh of disappointment. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
For those who can't get enough of Dinosaur mania, here is Pulitzer Prize winning author Paul Zindel's foray into the field. Zack Norak has bad thoughts about his family's move to Salt Lake City. When his paleontologist father is found near death at the mouth of a cave system, Zack's worst nightmare begins. Somehow (and this is never satisfactorily explained), several Utahraptors have survived for millenniums in a not-so remote part of the Utah desert. It falls to Zack to complete the great discovery his father has made. When Zack and his Native American friend, Uta, befriend a baby raptor named Honker, the raptor mother is out for revenge. An egomaniac paleontologist, Dr. Boneid, wants the glory of finding a live dinosaur all to himself. The gore and violence is at an extreme here - teens will have all the blood, entrails, vomit, and secretions they can stomach, and them some.
VOYA - Rosemary Chance
Zindel's fourth thriller displays a dust jacket surpassing the graphically sensational covers of his three previous HarperCollins monster novels: Loch (1994/VOYA April 1995), The Doom Stone (1995/VOYA April 1996), and Reef of Death (1998/VOYA April 1998). From the front of the book, a beast with slime-dripping fangs beckons readers to enter its lair for a frightful experience. Our hero, Zach, finds an egg in the remains of a rock slide that injured his paleontologist father on a dig in Utah. At home the egg hatches into a feisty dinosaur that imprints on Zach. Soon the mother dinosaur appears at Zach's house searching for her missing baby, which Zach has named "Honker." The huge rampaging raptor damages the house, scares Zach, and carries Honker away in her mouth. Zach and his friend, Uta, a Native American girl, set off for the tunnels and shafts of Silver Mountain, intent on rescuing Honker before anyone else discovers the dinosaurs. The gore and terror that follow will satisfy young horror fans as Zach and Uta encounter enormous catfish, wolf-like creatures, bats, and adult and baby Utahraptors. Although the mountain is flooded in an effort to kill the monsters, Zach and Uta escape to see Honker and its mother set free into adjacent canyon lands. Raptor blends the action and tension of an Indiana Jones story with the horror of Jurassic Park (Knopf, 1990/VOYA December 1991) for a thrill that middle schoolers will grab. Turning a corner from his darkly humorous, edgy novels such as The Pigman (Harper, 1968) that helped define the YA genre, Zindel admits he is just having fun. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-A page-turner for older dinosaur lovers. While exploring a cave alone, Zack's paleontologist father is seriously wounded when he encounters a female raptor guarding her nest. After he is rescued, Zack goes to the area and finds a dinosaur egg, whereupon he is faced with circumstances that force him to make some very difficult choices. Add to this, an ego-maniacal professor, a Native-American friend and her wise grandmother, and highly descriptive prose, and the result is a teen perspective of Jurassic Park. If readers can survive the violent opening scene, they will enjoy equally descriptive encounters throughout the rest of the book. Although gory, these vivid portrayals make the narrative effective. Zindel is a master at creating and sustaining a mood and Raptor is no exception. From beginning to end, young people will be immersed in a battle between animal and man. In addition, the author adds to the plot by juxtaposing this encounter with society's fascination with sensationalism and materialistic nature. If Zack can capture a living dinosaur, his father will be a celebrity. There are several layers to this story and readers can determine for themselves how deep they will delve. The imaginative ending offers an opportunity for discussion about mutation and animal freedom.-Molly S. Kinney, Office of Public Library Services, Atlanta, GA