Review: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Book cover of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

I got this out from the library way back in February and I was absolutely desperate to read it. You know, champing at the bit, frothing at the mouth, clawing at the windows type desperate. We’d just watched the film for the first time in years, and I think I fell in love with it even more than I did the first time. I just loved it and it made me so ridiculously happy that I clicked straight onto the library catalogue and reserved myself a copy of the novel. And then didn’t read it for three months, obviously.

On a remote jungle island, genetic engineers have created a dinosaur game park.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now one of mankind’s most thrilling fantasies has come true and the first dinosaurs that the Earth has seen in the time of man emerge.

But, as always, there is a dark side to the fantasy and after a catastrophe destroys the park’s defense systems, the scientists and tourists are left fighting for survival…

I loved the book even more than the movie, once I’d eventually got round to reading it. They changed quite a lot for the big screen, especially character-wise (Jeff Goldblum’s role in particular) and it was fascinating to work out which was original and which was Steven Spielberg. There’s one change in particular that means I’m not going to be able to watch any of the three films again without ranting. It’s a huge, huge change and I need somebody else to read it so I can rant! Certain iconic scenes are identical though – T-Rex overturning cars in the rain, anyone? 

It’s a lot more serious and scientific than the film. The explanation behind the DNA-ing process (clearly I’ve picked up a lot of the terminology) is much more in-depth and there’s a lot of dinosaur facts inserted neatly into the text. At the same time, you never feel like you’re actually learning. As so many of the characters are palaeontologists or botanists, it feels so natural for them to be talking in that way. It even ventures into the philosophical at times – Dr. Malcolm in particular is very keen on chaos theory, which he (frequently) uses to explain how he believes Jurassic Park is doomed to fail. There doesn’t seem to be as much action in the book, but then it makes up for it with rational, thought-out discussion and tense atmosphere.

However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to feed any of the characters to a dinosaur. Lexy, for example. I’d have rescued the goat and chained her to the post instead. In the book, it’s actually the girl child that’s younger – apparently Steven Spielberg liked Joseph Mazello so much that he switched the fictional children’s ages round so that he could play the boy. But anyway. She’s honestly the one thing I’d have changed about Jurassic Park – she’s just so whiny and god-damned annoying. She doesn’t care about dinosaurs and constantly informs her brother that their father loves her more. Charming. Stabbity stab stab.

But now science is the belief system that is hundreds of years old. And, like the medieval system before it, science is starting not to fit the world any more. Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways—air, and water, and land—because of ungovernable science.
 
The atmosphere in this book is just incredible though. You can practically feel the dinosaurs (seriously, every single time I’ve written that word in this review, I’ve accidentally typed ‘spiders’ first. Which sucks because Arachnid Park wouldn’t be half as exciting) breathing down your neck. It’s tense, exciting and I was on the edge of my seat, half expecting a spider dinosaur to take a bite out of me at any moment. 

That said, it’s nowhere near as gory as I expected it to be. If it were a film (which it is, obviously), I’d probably give it a PG, or 12 at a push. There’s a few moments that made me go ‘Eww!’ but nothing to do with humans and nothing even remotely memorable.  Basically, if you can put on your big girl panties to watch the movie, you can cope with the book.

Long story short, I really really loved Jurassic Park. It’s even better than the film and I can’t wait to read the second book. Speaking of, did anybody know they’re currently making a new film?

Visit the website of Michael Crichton here, or ‘like’ him on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Rofl! Spider Dinosaurs.. fair enough. Why? :p

  2. Sarah says:

    I have been wanting to read a Michael Crichton book for ages but have been putting it off. I have "Next" at home and it sounds so good, but… something's holding me back. Maybe since I've seen Jurassic Park before I'd be more comfortable starting with this one! And per your review, it does sound amazing!

    And yeah, I hate bratty children in books. They should ALL be eaten by dinosaurs.

  3. I am a big fan of the film, sounds like I need to read the book as well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *