Ever since that fateful day at my 10th birthday party (it was a sleepover, of course) I’ve had a love of all things Jurassic Park. I watched the VHS until it almost broke, and I collected and played with Jurassic Park action figures. This spun off into a separate (but just as awesome) love of dinosaurs, where I collected everything I could relating to them, including, yes, dinosaur sheets for my bed. Now, many years later, I still love the movie, and am somewhat embarrassed to say that it took me this long to read Michael Crichton’s book! So, I immediately picked up a copy (at the Strand, no less) and got to it.
Jurassic Park begins with various isolated incidents of mysterious attacks on people by an animal or animals of some sort in or around Costa Rica and Isla Nubar, a small island approximately 100 miles off shore from the mainland. The focus then moves to Dr. Alan Grant, a paleontologist working on a site in Montana, and his graduate assistant, Dr. Ellie Sattler. Both have been asked by a man named John Hammond to come and consult on a project that he has been working on near Costa Rica. The founder and CEO of a technology company known as InGen, Hammond has created an island filled with genetically recreated dinosaurs that he intends to open as a theme park. Using DNA found in dinosaur blood found in fossilized mosquitoes, Hammond’s team pieced together DNA fragments and filled in extra segments with reptile DNA, eventually hatching and raising multiple species of dinosaurs. Grant and Sattler are joined by Dr. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician, Donald Gennaro, a lawyer representing the investors in the park, and Tim and Lex Murphy, Hammond’s grandchildren. All are put to the test when a power failure causes the massively complex computer system that controls the park to go down, releasing all the dinosaurs from their holding areas. To make matters worse, they are stuck in the park during the power outage, as they had just completed a general tour of the park. Will they be able to survive?
As some of you know, I am a science geek. Alas, it was not always this way. I must give a ton of credit to Mr. Crichton for his work and its impact on my life. Jurassic Park opened my eyes to the world of science fiction, and I was hooked from the opening scenes of the movie. I know this review isn’t really about the movie, but this book reads every bit like I thought it would after knowing the movie so well. All of the characters read like old friends that I haven’t seen in a while. Grant is still as much of a badass as I remember him, and Lex and Tim are still basically just as annoying. I found Hammond’s character to be a bit more interesting in the book, as Crichton goes into more detail when describing Hammond’s thought process on the park itself. It was amazing to read how he truly believed (and was deluded) in the park so much that he would do almost anything to see its final creation and grand opening. In one of the final scenes (where the focus switches to Hammond’s point of view), we can see that even in the midst of everything that has gone wrong, the colossal failure of the park itself, Hammond still feels that there is a chance. It was smaller details like this that made me appreciate the book even more. The more I read his books the greater appreciation I have for Crichton and his amazing work. It’s definitely sad the world lost such a great man at a young age. Even if you’ve already seen the movie, give Jurassic Park a try. It will be a whole new experience that will make you enjoy this story all over again!
5 out of 5 Stars
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Random House (1991)
Paperback: 416 pages