I’ve finally read the book that inspired the movie! And wow, it is worth the hype.
An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.
Until something goes wrong. . . .
In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton taps all his mesmerizing talent and scientific brilliance to create his most electrifying technothriller.
Throughout my reading of Jurassic Park, I tried to imagine myself back in 1990 when this book first came out. If I were me, but in 1990 and I picked up this book to review on my blog (or not blog, since blogs didn’t exist in 1990…I don’t think), what would I have thought?
While I may be a reader reading the book well after watching the movie(s), I set aside what I already knew about the story and focused on the book. And what I came away with is that both the movie and book complement each other. Where the book fails, the movie makes up for and where the movie lacks, the book makes up for. If anything, Jurassic Park should be judged on both its iterations rather than the two parts. You get a better sense of the entire story, the world, the emotional depth, and the characters when you consider both together working to create a much more complete story.
I could only imagine what people thought about this book when they picked it up. I mean, the idea of dinosaurs roaming the Earth millions of years after they went extinct is exciting. There’s so much you can unpack with that alone and I feel like Crichton tries to in the space of 450 pages.
There’s a real horror aspect to the story. Bodies being ripped apart, people hiding in fear of the various dinosaurs hunting them down. I felt so much suspense in the scenes with the velocirators because of their intelligence and the idea of fighting an animal that knows how to open doors just puts you on the edge of your seat. It may not be the same level as some of the other great horror authors out there, I think Crichton does a really good job creating a sense of reality in this book that you forget that this is all fiction.
While it’s definitely science fiction, it’s obvious Michael Crichton wanted this to be as close to real science as possible. With graphs, charts, data pulls, and even code spread out the novel to portray the level of human preparation put into the book, Crichton really makes me believe that genetic manipulation and recreating extinct animals can be real. I know it doesn’t all go to plan in the book, but the way the information is presented, it made you feel like maybe there’s a dinosaur Disney World somewhere out there. I read a lot of science fiction and even in stories like Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, you still know that this is just fiction. Michael Crichton is next level. There’s a level of dedication put into the book to make it as life-like as possible.
The biggest element of this is the discussion of genetic engineering and bringing something like dinosaurs into human existence. The book is described as a cautionary tale of genetic engineering gone wrong. While there’s many scenes with introspection and reflection on scientific ideologies, I think Michael Crichton instills his personal beliefs within Ian Malcolm. While injured for most of the book, Malcolm’s still able to wax poetic about the reality of science adding that sometimes because we can doesn’t mean we should. The impassioned speeches Malcolm makes while in a morphine-induced stupor (including his belief in The Malcolm Effect) were still extremely insightful as if someone may have been thinking about these concepts for a very long time. Even the commentary from the experts throughout the story (Henry Wu, John Arnold, Muldoon, and even Gennaro) all felt like perhaps having dinosaurs exist on Earth again wasn’t a good idea. It was also their opinions that brought about a lot of my frustration with one of the characters.
My least favorite character was John Hammond. I’m not the type of person to hate a billionaire just because he’s rich. No, it goes deeper than that. You would think the moment that he loses his grandchildren in the midst of a massively unstable dinosaur park with no communication and no protection against the deadly creatures would make him think differently to his decision for creating said park, but it doesn’t. He still believes it’s a good endeavor and once they figure out the “kinks,” then this will be a fun zoo for young people to enjoy with their multi-million dollar families. It bugged me how little he understood of the severity of the situation. And maybe there are billionaire men out there in the world who believe that; pushing at the advancement of scientific discovery for the sake of human enjoyment and pleasure, but it lacks of level of humanity as well. Perhaps the biggest villain in the entire book is Hammond who had the gumption to try and make money off this scientific endeavor.
Overall, this was such an incredible book that I can only imagine stunned the millions of readers who picked it up without having heard of the Jurassic Park movie. While I thought the first half of the book was a little slow, it was also necessary. There’s a lot of exposition in this book and a lot of explanation of the more scientific and mathematically components, but without those explanations, I don’t think Michael Crichton would have been able to get the believability he was able to get otherwise. Having read the book and watched the movie, I now have this much bigger view of what Michael Crichton was trying to get at and I applaud him for this level of creativity and the level of realism he puts into the world.