Todd Smith Reviews Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

“Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton is a story about progress for the sake of progress and commercial success. It’s at best a weak attempt at a social commentary regarding greed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a much better read for most of us in place of the standard anti-greed novel in that it masks it in a story that captivates our minds and takes us back to the period of life when clay tyrannosaurs and coloring pages were our portal into the past. It chronicles the self-absorbed John Hammond’s attempt to build a zoo of unbelievable proportions and nearly mythical creatures. He sacrifices his family, corporate reputation, and several scientists in his unabashed unwillingness to accept failure.

For fans of 1993’s film version of “Jurassic Park” this book may be a bit of a shock. While the major themes of the book and its sequel “The Lost World” are intact in their film counterparts, the endings are dramatically different and the scope is greatly reduced. Also, the writing style of Crichton is quite technical in some aspects which lends itself into in-depth explanations that you miss in the films. The differences also include different dinosaurs, sequence of events, and several characters that didn’t make the movie. So be prepared for a little different tale.

That being said, the book, as many people say of every book adapted for film, is much better than the movie. Not only do we get a better sense of suspense through Crichton’s storytelling and foreshadowing of events such as the early raptor attacks and Malcolm’s dissertations, but we also see the internal struggles among the InGen staff. There are consistent hints dropped before you ever realize what’s going to happen on Isla Nublar that tell you the dinosaurs have escaped the island and their doing very bad things wherever they are. Malcolm is used as a delightful foreshadowing device as he espouses on the basic failure of thought the InGen scientists have made. One major difference giving this story a more believable stance is the presence of alot more people on the island and the use of characters such as Henry Wu, the head geneticist, and Donald Gennaro, the corporate lawyer. When the terror begins to rear its ugly head on the island we see the various figures work out their neurosis and character flaws either to great success or a bloody failure. Then there are also the additional dinosaurs that never made the movie such as the juvenile T-Rex and the pterosaurs in a wonderful scene that takes place in the aviary. And finally, the ending, while I can’t give it away, leaves you with an incredible guess as to where a later book will go. I’ll give you one hint, the second book didn’t pick up on the ending! Overall, a much better book than movie.

On a literary scale this wouldn’t be Crichton’s best work nor one that many people could stomach unless they really liked graphs. That’s right, graphs. There are lots of graphs and computer screen captures which is quite typical of Crichton. It helps lend credibility to those of us willing to suspend our disbelief or who have no idea of what we’re looking at anyway. However, to some really technical people the graphs will just insult your intelligence. Warning to geneticists and computer professionals–IGNORE THE GRAPHS. Taking a look at the general quality of the book and its ability to overshadow the film, pick this up and read! You won’t be disappointed and you’ll probably never see the movie again unless it’s for the special edition.

Author: Todd Smith

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