The World of Kong
A Natural History of Skull Island (Hardback)

Editor: Margaret Clark
Pocket Books
RRP 25.00, US $35.00, Cdn $48.00
ISBN 1 4165 0258 0
Available 05 December 2005

In 1935 a joint expedition of several prominent universities and organisations called Project Legacy was launched. Its stated mission goal was to undertake the first of several field guides to Skull Island, a land filled with creatures existing outside of their time. Here for the first time is the result of their work, collected in a comprehensive edition of the natural history of this lost island...

A Natural History of Skull Island is a bit of a cheap shot really. I remember as a kid of the '70s that I was a huge dinosaur fan (weren't we all?) There were loads of books that charted the assumed history of the dinosaurs - looking at sea life, flying creatures, dinosaurs, their extinction and the eventual emergence of the caveman.

This book follows a similar format to those old books, with the same style of paintings and descriptions of the beasts. In fact, to be quite honest, the publisher could just have easily bought the rights to one of those books and reprinted it with a Kong cover.

There are plenty of hardback dinosaur books out there that are better put together and cheaper. The World of Kong is a little silly really. It's never really established whether all of the descriptions are accurate, or fabricated for this book. Did the majority of these creatures every really exist on this planet? Are the creatures shown here exactly as they were millions of years ago? Or have the authors given us representations of how they would look today if they had survived?

Peter Jackson's introduction hints that the creatures in this book are all fabricated (which in actual fact probably means they just altered some species very slightly to bring us "new" creatures).

As this is Kong's world I was really expecting to find quite a lot more content on the large primate. In fact the only thing that links this to the King Kong movie (apart from the title) are the pages at the back of the book that show illustrations and information about the big ape, as well as some pages that show some of the Weta Workshop crew who were responsible for bringing the monsters to life in the movie.

While it looks impressive, this book is nothing more than a shameless cash-in that serves no real use to anyone other than the most anal of fans of Peter Jackson's movie.

Darren Rea

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