Jurassic Park Review - Life Finds a Way
by Michael Crichton
Published in 1990
I swear, every time I pass my bookshelf and see Jurassic Park, the theme music starts playing to draw me into reading again. I actually remember watching Jurassic Park a lot as a child and always having nightmares of that damn T. Rex escaping and chasing me around Jamaica Plain because clearly he wanted rice and beans with a side of me. Considering the movie was adapted by Steven Spielberg, I didn’t think the book could be any better than the movie, but thankfully I was completely wrong because Jurassic Park is a fun and adventurous novel to follow.
Jurassic Park begins with several “lizard” attacks scattered around Costa Rica affecting infants and small children, with it being revealed it is actually a Procompsognathus. Everyone tries sweeping the incidents under the rug, confused at how they are finding what they thought were extinct dinosaurs. Meanwhile, Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are invited to Isla Nublar by John Hammond as consultants where it is revealed he has built a preserve to house cloned dinosaurs as a theme park called Jurassic Park (cue music). Confident that they have engineered the dinosaurs in a way that is perfectly manageable, chaos theorist Ian Malcolm predicts that this will never be enough because of “chaos theory” where he believes the dinosaurs are too unpredictable to truly keep in a controlled environment. John Hammond continues to dismiss these concerns and even invites his grandchildren, Tim & Lex, before sending them all on a tour of the park.
Back in the control room, Dennis Nedry shuts down the security systems in order to steal some dino embryos and sell to the highest bidder. This backfires when he is attacked and killed by a Dilophosaurus after trying to escape. The rest of the crew also get caught in the power out in the middle of their tour… which causes the T. Rex to break out and attack the guests. This leaves the group scattered, with Grant lost in the park with both children and Donald Gennaro bringing a wounded Ian back to Hammond. They all realize that contrary to belief, select dinosaurs have been reproducing in the wild and there are significantly more than they anticipated. The control room does their best to have the park power back on as they fear dinosaurs escaping throughout the park while Grant and the children do their best to return to them while avoiding the Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptors.
Grant and the children make it back to the Visitor Center to see that it is surrounded by raptors who have already killed several people while breaking in. They manage to restore power to the park and request a ship to rescue them. They learn due to the dinosaur DNA being mixed with frog DNA, the dinosaurs were able to change sex in order to reproduce in the wild. After discovering Hammond was eaten by a group of Procompsognathus, Grant decides he needs to look for the raptor nest in order to get an accurate count of all dinosaurs on the island. They are all rescued by the Costa Rican Air Force, who shuts down the island. They learn from Dr. Martin Guitierrez that a pack of mysterious animals seem to be migrating to the Costa Rican jungle which they fear may be dinosaurs who managed to escape the island.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 9/10
Reading this book literally felt like I was watching a movie. There are just countless moments that literally had me on the edge of my seat in fear that they will all become another dinosaur meal! One of my favorite tense parts of the book was the river rafting scenes with Grant and the kids. For those that have gone to Universal’s Island of Adventure (in Florida), there is actually a river rafting Jurassic Park ride that people probably think is completely random but was heavily inspired by the book! In the book, Grant, Tim, and Lex find an inflatable raft next to a sleeping T. Rex and have to figure out how to inflate it and drift away on the raft without waking up the T. Rex. Well, there’s always that friend that has to cough at the WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT and of course it’s little Lex. The T. Rex wakes up and chases them into the water, with only its’ eyes peeking out on the top of the water before it gets distracted and leaves. The raft leads them to the Pterodactyl dome where they are attacked and just barely escape before running into the T. Rex again chasing them down the path next to the river. It’s honestly such a thrill to read because it feels like I am on the raft with the fellow characters and we are trying to outrun the T. Rex together!
Overall, after reading Jurassic Park, it literally feels like I went on an adventure (even though I really haven’t moved from this couch…). I loved all the different dinosaurs and how they began by being completely awed at what they saw into completely fearful for their own lives as “life finds a way”. I also think re-reading the book really made me appreciate the first movie adapted by Steven Spielberg because he really tried to bring Michael Crichton’s vision to life and for a movie in the early 90’s, it really is as magical as it is in the books. I still wish he could have tried to adapt the river rafting scene into the first movie (because it really is as awesome as I am saying it is), but it still captures the terror and fear we feel when we first meet the T. Rex.
I would absolutely recommend this book to others! This is a read that needs to be read outside on a beautiful summer day so you can start getting paranoid that Procompsognathus are definitely hiding in the bushes. I think every character was unique and interesting to follow, especially John Hammond himself. In the movie, he’s just an eccentric and overly optimistic fool that realizes his mistakes by the end of the movie. In the book however, he’s completely delusional. He is so swept up in the ideas of real dinosaurs that he doesn’t care for the consequences. Even at the end of the book when he breaks a leg after running from the raptors, he still tries thinking of ways to better the park right up to the moment he’s eaten. He actually starts blaming all of his current workers (even the dead ones) for the park’s failure. So while I won’t be visiting Jurassic Park anytime soon, it will forever live as one of my favorite fiction theme parks of all time.