Jurassic Park is the book that started it all, the very original conception that kicked off a massive franchise that 90’s kids, like myself, came to adore. Author Michael Crichton is well known for writing numerous novels that are exciting and thrilling, but he is most famous for Jurassic Park. Crichton published his first book back in 1966 under the pen name John Lange and has also dabbled in directing films and designing computer games.
Jurassic Park has always been a well known book, but with the recent releases of Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the book has surged even further in popularity. My local book store stocked up and sold out of copies of the book during Fallen Kingdom’s time in theaters. The question then becomes: Does the beginning of the franchise live up to the films that followed? Let’s find out!
Violence: There is no way around it, the math of T-rex plus velociraptors plus all manner of predators, means heavy violence. The book isn’t violent all throughout, but when those violent moments happen, it is swift and very brutal. Blood and carnage happens in these moments and several characters, including some more innocent dinosaurs, die in the book. I would say the book is more gory than the film.
Sexual Content: Not much at all. There are some lewd comments, but they are rare. There is some discussion about reproduction, but it’s entirely for the purposes of science and cloning.
Drug/Alcohol Use: Very little, some of the characters will drink at points in the book, but it’s rare. One character regularly smokes.
Spiritual Content: Evolution is a notable theme in the book and while none of the characters openly denounce God, they don’t seem to believe or take God seriously. However, at the same time, the book consistently raises an implicit question: “When does playing God go too far?”
Language/Crude Humor: Some swear words, such as d***, god****, and h***, are used periodically.
Other Negative Content: Greed is a common theme in the book. Many characters want to use the dinosaurs for financial gain rather than respecting their existence and awesome power.
Positive Content: The book demonstrates some real acts of heroism during the desperate struggle to survive the island. Many of the characters jump right into danger to help others, knowing they may not survive, and several do die in their sacrificial effort.
I had been wanting to read this book for quite a while. As a kid, I would watch the film over and over again because I was totally in awe of the massive dinosaurs. After I saw Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, I decided to go request the book at my local library (there was a considerable wait on the book because of the movie) and dive into Crichton’s novel that spawned a franchise.
I was nervous at the start of the novel because I often find it difficult to read a book after watching the movie. I nearly put down Maze Runner because I saw the movie first, but I didn’t have that issue with the novel version of Jurassic Park. The book was different enough from the movie that it kept the story fresh, with certain characters surviving in the movie that didn’t survive in the book and vice versa.
The story follows the characters we know and love: Dr. Alan Grant the paleontologist, Dr. Ellie Sattler the paleobotanist, Dr. Ian Malcolm the mathematician, John Hammond the eccentric park owner, and the various cast of characters who join us on the park that will take us back in time. Our story begins with several doctors and paleontologists investigating a mysterious lizard creature biting children in Costa Rica. They finally reach out to Alan Grant at his dig site in Montana for his expertise. Grant, Sattler, and a crew of other people are being commissioned by a company owned by Hammond called InGen. Right before Grant has a moment to investigate the mysterious lizard in Costa Rica, John Hammond himself invites Grant and Sattler to his biological preserve on the fictional island of Isla Nublar near Costa Rica.
They are joined by Ian Malcolm and meet the rest of the characters on the island that appear throughout the story, including Hammond’s two grandchildren, Tim and Alexis Murphy. Our characters quickly discover that the park is not what they thought it would be and find that it is so much more! The island is full of dinosaurs who were cloned from DNA found in various bugs preserved in amber. While many are amazed by the recreation of dinosaurs, Malcolm adamantly predicts that this park will fail and would will not be able to contain the dinosaurs. Judging from the rest of the franchise, his words were not taken as seriously as they should have been.
I won’t spoil too much more, but things obviously do not go as planned, and the dinosaurs get free because one man chose greed over his job to keep vigilant watch over the computer systems in the park. This leads to a story full of tense moments and frightening scenes involving some of the most deadly predators one can imagine. Those moments where the T-Rex was approaching were so tense that I was flying through pages without even noticing! The scenes involving the velociraptors were action packed and often brutal when they attacked. The author often did not ignore what can happen when a dinosaur attacks a human or other creature. Short answer: It isn’t pretty.
The characters are pretty interesting and do not necessarily follow their depiction in the film 100%. The reader definitely knows who is good and who is bad, who is motivated by the good of all and who is motivated by greed. Despite them being interesting, they lack some depth and we learn little of their backstory. This didn’t bother me too much as I don’t always need to know everything about my characters, but it would have been nice to diversify who they were a little. Grant was the determined leader, Malcolm was the handsome intelligent academic, and Hammond was the eccentric man motivated by his goal to have the greatest park ever. I liked the characters, but they never really broke these molds until maybe the very end, but even then, not as much as the reader might have hoped for. Despite their simplicity, I still really liked all of the characters, good and bad alike, except one. Alexis Murphy, one of Hammond’s grandchildren, was incredibly obnoxious and I think the author could have done without that character in my honest opinion. She merely served to annoy the reader.
It wouldn’t be Jurassic Park if it didn’t challenge the reader with the question, “Just because we can, does that mean we should?” The story raises this question regularly and demonstrates that “playing God” can have significant consequences. It is impossible for us to control everything, particularly the natural order of life. The book demonstrates that we were meant to care for God’s creation, not to control it and dictate it as He would.
Overall, Jurassic Park was an exciting read with some really tense moments that boiled into action-packed and brutal scenes. The characters were a little simple, but they were enjoyable regardless and I still managed to care for them throughout their attempt to survive Jurassic Park.
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