WARNING: Book contains graphic imagery of violent dinosaurs attacks.
Nothing fascinates a five year old quite like dinosaurs and no franchise in history has cornered the market on these bird/reptile beings quite like Jurassic Park . I’m sure there are very few people in the world today who haven’t seen Spielberg’s 1993 movie masterpiece Jurassic Park. When I was a kid that theme song was fire (honestly it still is). I’m normally not one who would watch a film before reading the book. However Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton did come out when I was attending kindergarten, so I’m going to cut myself some slack.
This novel has multiple beginnings with multiple POVs to try and give you a well rounded idea of the scientific discovery that is about to unfold. Each beginning makes some vague reference to lizards that ultimate leads to dinosaurs. They also include injury or death so that’s something. At this point the immanent threat that dinosaurs are definitely a thing is prevalent.
We are quickly introduced to a cast of characters that primarily involve scientists that are experts in their chosen profession. Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm, John Hammond, and the kids Tim and Lex Murphy. They are all brought to an island called Isla Nublar off the cost of Costa Rica for the weekend. The point is to get approval from experts that 1) The island is safe 2) The island is secure. The fact that John Hammond invites his two grandchildren who are under the age of thirteen is to help prove this. By risking their lives. I hate this character which is a strong turn from the lovable bearded man we see in the movie adaptation.
Point of reference: while the movie uses many themes from the novel the two are separate as far as story goes. And I won’t mince words, I prefer Spielberg’s take more so than Crichton’s. This is due to the fact that characters in the book don’t seem to grasp the enormity of their situation. When they first encounter a dinosaur I was floored at their lack of shock. Do they not see the dinosaur? Do they not know they’re extinct? One of the scientists (and arguably the main character) digs up dinosaur bones for a living. Surely this would perplex him, but it doesn’t.
This trope of humans not reacting accordingly to dinosaur attacks and dinosaurs in general runs rampant throughout the text. Much like an escaped T-Rex. If I were to pinpoint the thing that wrecked it for me it would be this. That and the fact all female characters are cardboard cutouts. Yes, even little Lex. Dr. Ellie Sattler is a young student of Dr. Alan Grant with long legs. Oh, she is also a paleobotanist, but it’s easy to forget that when sex is on the line. Lex is the youngest of the kids and really likes baseball. That’s it.
Of the male characters I would say that Dr. Grant was my favorite as he is arguably the smartest. Ian Malcolm is so aggravating that even envisioning Jeff Goldblum didn’t help.
John Hammond is the epitome of corporate greed. So much so that he doesn’t blink at the thought of risking his own grandchildren to further his profit margin. The chaos that swallows Jurassic Park is most definitely all Hammond’s fault. From refusing to pay his IT guy what he is owed. To not listening to sound reasoning when it comes to the science of creating these creatures exactly as they were 65 billion years ago. Truthfully, all of his decisions are horrible and I’m glad he got his comeuppance.
Speaking of, the gore is probably the most intense thing about Crichton’s novel. I would argue the most graphic of the deaths was Nedry’s, the IT guy. The depiction of what exactly is happening because you’re inside his head made me shudder. Well done Crichton, you got me.
While there are other gore moments that are great, it is mainly the explanation of the science and technology behind running a place like Jurassic Park that interested me. I’m pretty sure none of the science or technology is relevant now, still it does present a suspension of disbelief that is remarkable. Which again begs the question as to why the characters react the way they do!
I think the most aggravating occurrence of this is when they learn that the Raptor population on the island has jumped from eight to thirty-four (or around those numbers). No one reacts. No one seems at all concerned. Dr. Grant just asks if they are using amphibian DNA to make the dinosaurs. My dude, there are now 4x more raptors on this island with you, get some perspective!
Aside from my petty complaints about the characters I would say on the whole this is a fun read. If nothing else it makes me appreciate the film that much more. I see the changes that Spielberg made and I would say they were all for the better. I’m not planning on reading the other Jurassic novels, but if one happens to be a pick for my book club I won’t be mad about it either.
3* out of 5*
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