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Kong Reborn (2005)
Fiction Review by The Gravedigger

Kong Reborn (2005) Author: Russell Blackford

This novel is a direct sequel to the original 1933 King Kong movie. In this story SON OF KONG never happened and neither did the Darkhorse Books KONG: KING OF SKULL ISLAND (which has the son of Carl Denham revisit Skull Island in the 50's).

A worker cleaning the top outside floors of the Empire State Building comes across a large blood-stain, which is from when Kong was shot off the building seventy years before. Geneticist Jack Denham, the grandson of Carl Denham, gets part of this sample and with his team of top scientists is able to clone the King. They are able to save 70% of his DNA - but have to replace the other 30% with that of a mountain gorilla and a Bonobo (Pygmy chimp), so they're not entirely sure how this new ape will develop.

During the first several years he grows quickly and is kept in a large enclosure/greenhouse on the top of one of Manhattan's buildings. That is, until he starts going through his 'teenage years' and starts having mood fluctuations and temper tantrums. While all this is happening Jack's top competitor in the Genetics business, Charlton Hemming, sues him for stealing that sample of Kong's blood - and claims that he owns the creature as it was found on the exterior of the Empire State Building - and Hemmings owns that building.

Then, the new Kong escapes briefly into the city, though he's quickly subdued before anyone is hurt. It's then that Jack Denham realizes that the only thing to do is to return Kong to his native environment - back to Skull Island. Denham is the only one who knows the exact location of the place, as his grandfather entrusted him with that secret.

Denham and Hemming eventually reach a mutual decision to desist their court battle. Hemming will fund the expedition to Skull Island, which will cost millions, and in return he'll be allowed to exploit some of the unique animals there. Getting to the island is relatively easy - but almost immediately members of the expedition are killed by those pesky dinosaurs, which include a more evolved Allosaurus as well as a large pack of Veloceraptors. There are also giant birds, insects and flesh-eating plants. The only reason Denham and a few of his associates survive is that this young Kong is able to protect them. They just hope that when they leave Kong will be able to survive.

Hemming, in the meantime, has stayed behind while the others are on the island - and hires a group of mercenaries to fly in and make Denham's death 'look like an accident'. These guys don't know, though, that all their weapons, body armor and technology won't be able to protect them.

There's the eventual confrontation between the good guys and the bad guys - and the realization that the original Kong wasn't the only giant gorilla on the island. There is a whole tribe of them.

KONG REBORN surprised me, as it's better than any of the 'Kong' sequels ever done (including Son, King Kong Lives and that stupid Kong: King of Atlantis cartoon, which also features a cloned ape of sorts). The almost four-hundred paged book is a quick, enjoyable read, particularly for those who are fans of giant apes and dinosaurs.

Available from www.ibooks.net

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