Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park
Title: Jurassic Park
Author: Michael Crichton
Publication Date: November 1990
Pages: 399
How I Found It: I love the movies. Like, too much to be proud of.
Date Completed: 12/17/15

Summary: I'm guessing you already know how this one goes...eccentric billionaire builds dinosaur theme park and things go, uh, poorly. 

What I Thought: The fact that I enjoy the Jurassic Park movies so much has always seemed odd to me. I never went through a dinosaur phase as a kid; I am not especially fascinated by science, biology, or paleontology; they do not fall into any preconceived category of things in which I am interested. And yet, I like them a lot. I suppose I am as susceptible to box office magic as the next person.

This summer, Jurassic World, the revamped addition to the series starring Chris Pratt (who turns out to be a better actor than I gave him credit for in his Parks and Recreation days), got me thinking about the classic films again. I have watched them more times than I would care to admit and Kevin does not like rewatching movies. Still, I felt a pull to revisit Isla Nublar. I read The Great Zoo of China last summer and, at that point, realized I had never actually read Michael Crichton's original novel which inspired this whole business. It seemed time for that to change.

I went into the novel anticipating a written version of the movie. For someone who reads so many books and often views their film adaptations, I should have expected divergences between the two mediums here as well. While the basic plot and most of the characters carry over, there were more variations than I expected; that was a pleasant surprise. It still was a bit hard to read the book after having seen the movie so many times, especially a book like this that is relying to an extent on shock value and suspense. Regardless, there was definitely enough to keep me interested and engaged throughout the novel, never quite knowing where and how the plot was going to diverge.

In general, the difference between page and screen was something I enjoyed. It was nice to see the story with some variations. To me, the two biggest changes were surprising ones. First, in the book, Timmy is the older sibling, a largely rational kid with a passionate interest in dinosaurs, a character trait he did retain in the movie. He is contrasted to his emotional, easily excitably sister Lex. Their personalities were largely switched from the book to the movie. I cannot help but wonder the reasoning behind that decision. I like that in the movie the girl is the older, stronger one, but I'm not sure making such a switch would have been an intentional choice back in the early 1990s. The second big change really irked me. Ok, maybe it's not that big of a change, but it was big in my mind because I found it so irritating. In the book, the big, official reveal that there are living dinosaurs on the islands comes actually on the island. It's a great moment and one of the most memorable from the film. In the book, however, the big reveal comes in a conference room before the reader even sees the island at all. In this instance, I far prefer Spielberg's interpretation.  

The book is also directed at a slightly smarter audience. Don't get me wrong - it's still an action adventure thriller. However, we hear more from Malcolm and his theories of mathematics and chaos. There is also more explanation of the theoretical science behind the dinosaur's rebirth. I enjoyed having a bit more depth added to the suspense. This was a really fun read, particularly since I am already such a fan of the movies. From here, I'll definitely be picking up a copy of The Lost World

Quote I Loved: "In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought."

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: I actually wouldn't be surprised if I do someday, even though there is no real need.

A Reduced Review: Fans of the movies will enjoy this meatier (pun intended) original venture to Isla Nublar. 

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the novel, too! It was the first Michael Crichton novel I've read, and I bought The Lost World right away but unfortunately haven't gotten around to reading it yet.