OK, so Contest may never be discussed in the same reverential tones as more profound and visionary sci-fi, penned by the likes of Iain Banks, Stephen Baxter or Jose Farmer, but it's certainly an entertaining read nonetheless.
The adventures of our hero Stephen Swain, inadvertently and unwillingly enrolled in a form of alien gladiatorial combat, are more than competently described by Reilly and I'm sure most readers will devour this entertaining pot-boiler in a flurry of undemanding page-turning.
In the appendix, the author pays tribute to Jurassic Park, and the influence of Crichton is clear in Contest. Indeed the stalking and confrontations set amongst a maze of bookcases are highly reminiscent of the velociraptors in the kitchen scene in JP. Reilly does, however, inject enough original touches to deflect any serious cries of plagiarism. In particular, the cheating alien called Bellos makes for an effectively evil villain and the bizarre creature referred to as Codex was both inventive and downright creepy.
No Earth-shattering surprises or twists along the way, but the ending was suitably explosive and satisfying. So, nowhere near being a sci-fi classic, but it certainly does what it says on the tin and you could do a lot worse than spending a few hours in the New York State Library with Reilly's dramatis personae, in the somewhat lightweight but pretty damn entertaining world of Contest.