Zoo: The Graphic Novel is better than the original book, Zoo. The book was fast-paced, but became tedious about two-thirds of the way through. Not so with the graphic novel, which remained engaging throughout.
It’s the exact same story: grad school dropout Jackson Oz studies increasing cases of “human animal conflict” (HAC). Scientists and politicians delay the research for a cure because they don’t believe Oz. By the time they acknowledge it, it’s almost too late to pinpoint the cause and the solution. Without spoiling anything, the solution has downsides that the people in power don’t like, so once again Oz finds himself in the minority. He wants the solution fully implemented but everybody else is too stuck in their ways to accept wholesale change.
The pictures helped tell the story and cut down the need for text descriptions of setting, animal appearance, and animal behavior. For example, the scene of Oz following a dog into a dog lair, which helped him uncover a key clue about HAC, was handled much more efficiently in the graphic novel in just a few panels than in the book, where that story seemed to stretch on for multiple pages.
As in the book, Chloe transitions from being a scientist with independent expertise into a stay-at-home mom. However, the graphic novel smoothed it out a little, with Chloe retaining some strength and independence, whereas the book presented her as Oz’s fawning doormat. However, Oz’s character development was probably stronger in the book than in the graphic novel. Oz in the graphic novel is too distant—I couldn’t really get a good feel for him as a person.
Amazon reviewers have complained about the graphic novel being black and white. The lack of color struck me as odd at first, but once you get into it, you forget about it. In some ways it helped—it’s easier to make out character features and details in the animal’s faces in black and white. Too much color can be a little distracting and intense. Maybe they also wanted to keep it family friendly without a bunch of red blood splattered on the pages. The drawings of Oz’s chimpanzee Atilla are very well done.
If you already read the book and you’re watching the CBS miniseries “Zoo,” or if you’re planning to read Zoo 2 (Patterson’s new novella) then reading the graphic novel is a great refresher on the original story. If you never read the original book, just skip it and read the graphic novel.