It all happens so fast. Ten people in a coffee shop, going through their morning routine. Then a ticking sound. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
And all of a sudden the group of strangers find themselves and the coffee shop at the end of the Cretaceous, on a prehistoric riverbank.
From there, author Geoff Jones puts his characters through the wringer, as they struggle to comprehend what happened to them and why, while dealing with injuries and dinosaur attacks.
First, there’s Edmontosaurus, a deadly herbivore that feels threatened by the newcomers encroaching on its territory. The group finally manages to scare away the herd by banging spoons and trays. Then there’s a T-rex, who is drawn to the scene by the loud noises, multiple angry Triceratops’, hungry pterosaurs, and a persistent Deinosuchus (a giant crocodile), just to name a few of the group’s obstacles.
Each quick chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, and there’s plenty of terror and gore. Everything is so fast paced, that each chapter feels really crammed full of information, about the characters and their backstories, the challenges they’re facing, and their plan for getting back home.
And yes, there is a way to get home, because it turns out the coffee shop was accidentally transported back in time by a group of scientists who work on the floor above the shop. Geoff gives clues throughout the story, and his characters slowly piece together what happened. It’s that age-old story of smart scientist gets government contract to build something cool, scientist gets arrogant and rushes the job, and scientist and his team suffer dire consequences from it.
The title of the book is a spoiler too, when you think about it. The book starts with ten people, and ends with four. However, Geoff has a great twist at the end—and it’s action-packed, of course.
The ten people who get transported are all very distinct and full of personality. There’s William, the level-headed mailman with two young sons who like dinosaurs—and the only one in the group who can name any of the dinosaurs they encounter.
There’s also Lisa, the brave owner of the coffee shop, and her employee Beth, Al, a man with a complicated past who has a crush on Lisa, and Tim, a loyal young man still figuring out how to make his own decisions. Others in the group include Hank and Callie, who are engaged though Callie is much younger than Hank, Patricia, the type-A personality who wants to be in charge, Helen, the elderly woman afraid of being left behind, and Morgan, the punk kid who provides comic relief.
Overall, The Dinosaur Four is a really enjoyable book, especially for dinosaur enthusiasts. As Geoff Jones puts it, the book is “an adult B-movie time-travel thriller.” And really, you can’t possibly go wrong with that.
I really hope that Geoff writes another dinosaur book. In the meantime, you can hear an interview with him and my husband on our I Know Dino podcast (episode 83).