*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: This is a story about standing up.
Four friends from high school who never made it big reunite for the bravest, most daring excursion in the world: backpacking Dinosaur Falls National Park. This park, which is strictly off-limits to the public, has been labeled the most dangerous place on earth. The group plans to trek through majestic Triceratops lands and hike among the Hadrosaurs, but they will discover prehistoric terror instead. Unknown to them, they are being tracked by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a dinosaur with a Great White-like devotion to following blood trails. If these four friends are to outlive the day, they will have to run and they will have to hide, but most importantly they are going to have to rise up.
This is a story about standing up.
Obviously I immediately compared this book to Jurassic Park (the book and the film/s). Backpacking with Dinosaurs also has man-made dinosaurs displayed for the public entertainment, and of course some stray ‘innocents’ who shouldn’t be there stumble right into the thick of raptors and ‘rexes.
But this is like Jurassic Park would be if you cut all of the dull parts and just kept the exciting bits!
idiots brave young people who gatecrash the dinosaur reserve (and I am baffled as to how they managed it so easily!) are plunged straight into adrenaline-spiking danger which continues right up to the final chomp. Interspersed with the terror we get short flashbacks into the earlier days of their friendship – a kind of cross between The Breakfast Club and Carrie – but these are hardly calm interludes, as each member of the ‘Granola’ gang are bullied and ostracised from school society.
Poor Sadie has it worst. She suffers from vitiligo, which bleaches the pigment from her skin in patches, and sees her vilified from all sides for being neither black nor white; for being different. The other Granolas (Julie, Ethan and Caleb) stand by her as the persecution slowly escalates to unbearable levels, and we clearly see why the group are so close, but not why their lives have drifted so badly since high school…
I found the Granolas fascinating and did not want to lose a single one of them, but this is not a love story: be warned that there is both ‘vore’ and gore… what do you expect when you pit two species of apex predator against each other?!
I was absolutely blown away by the ending. Literally just sat there mouthing expletives to myself as I digested the aftermath (sorry!) of the story. Aspects of the setup and plot may have reminded me of other stories early on, but this book took its own unique path through the dino-infested woods, and I’m not sure that all of me came out the other side with it.
Recommended to fans of quick-paced, hard-hitting creature-feature horror and people interested in the impact of abuse on those who survive it and those who perpetuate it. Plenty to get your teeth into here…! 😉
“Dinosaur Falls National Park,” Julie read from her cellphone, “was created by an act of Congress in 2020 to house formerly extinct dinosaur species created by several genetics companies. The location was determined by its remote area and varied habitats. Lands were purchased in the summer of 2020, and the dinosaurs were re-located there six weeks later. Dinosaur Falls National Park houses over 200 species of dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. It is strictly off limits to anyone, but the dinosaurs can be viewed through online cameras and private lodges built around the exterior, blah, blah, blah.”
– Doug Goodman, Backpacking with Dinosaurs