Greetings, intrepid travelers!
In this article I review Michael Crichton’s timeless classic Jurassic Park.
Jurassic Park begins with an American and a Costa Rican doctor in a clinic during a downpour. They receive a boy with bite and slash marks. The boy vomits blood after saying ‘lo-sa-raptor’ and dies. The American, Bobbie Carter, takes pictures of his wounds; his bite wound extends from his shoulder down to the torso. I was puzzled by the presence of foamy saliva.
‘It’s not a snake!’ I thought to myself.
Following this heart-stopping scene the story cuts to an American family at the beach in Puntarenas. The little girl is bitten by Compys much like in the second film. In this scene, we get the introduction of Martin Guitierrez.
I wondered to myself ‘will the knowledge of dinosaurs go public?’
When Alan Grant is finally introduced his description takes me aback. He has a barrel chest, he’s in his forties and has a beard. (Gross) He is working in plus-one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit and his assistant Ellie Sattler is around twenty-four years of age contrary to the thirty-something Laura Dern. Like the movie their work is disrupted with the arrival of Hammond’s helicopter-riding envoy.
Soon enough the plot advances with Nedry stealing the Dinosaur DNA and crashing the Park’s grid much like he did in the film. Our brave characters discover that the Velociraptors and Compys have broken out of containment and have begun breeding all over the island.
I was amazed with how much the characters glorify the raptors above all the other dinosaurs. No other dinosaur receives as much attention, praise and fear as them. Not even T-Rex who (dominates the plot for a good chunk of the story) receives as much detailed attributes as the nimble predators.
Speaking of talking, Dr. Ian Malcolm talks too much for my taste. I tire of his abstractions as I feel what he is saying could be said in simple and concise terms.
The trio of Alan Grant, Lexi and Tim float down the river chased by the T-Rex. The Tyrannosaur really does take on the role of a monster; refusing to stop chasing them and filling the air with the putrid smell of death and rotting flesh. I began to wonder if a dinosaur was chasing them or Freddy Kruger. The gang also encounter Dilophosaurs hooting to each other making mating calls.
Before the gang successfully sedate the Rex he licks Tim dousing him with his pungent scent. Once the giant falls in the lagoon the raptors (almost as if on cue) take over for the Rex and relentlessly chase the remaining people on Isla Nublar. Our heroes in a stroke of genius take advantage of the raptors’ voracious appetite by feeding the raptors poisoned eggs (with no bacon).
In the chaos that ensues Mr. Arnold is killed and the crew discover the raptors getting in migratory formation much like birds. The merry band of Alan, Gennaro, Sattler and the kids all get off the island. Dr. Malcolm, however, succumbs to his wounds from the Rex and dies (finally he shut up), and Dr. Hammond in a fit of rage goes on blaming everyone else for Jurassic Park’s failure until the juvenile Rex kills him.
The Costa Rican government bombs the island, presumably killing all dinosaurs in a fiery death much like in the Cretaceous.
This book creates a very different feel to the story than that of the film. With Spielberg’s film we get the glory and majesty of the Brachiosaurs, the splendor of the Triceratops and the quiet in the tree tops but in this book the pursuing dinosaurs turn this story into the horror genre much like the Morlocks did for ‘The Time Machine.’
Conversely, the characters in this book are very alive; Alan is consciously navigating his way through a hell hole with ceaseless abandon, the children are often panting in fear and lack of breath, and Malcolm is furiously trying for Hammond to see logic. Speaking of Hammond, he is by far the most different from his film depiction.
Overall, I liked this book. I enjoyed this story and it truly scared me with its portrayals of the carnivores. Crichton describes the carnivores as putrid-smelling, blood-stains on their claws and having pieces of flesh hanging from their teeth. The carnivorous dinosaurs become less and less like animals and more and more like slasher villains out for the taste of blood. Because of this portrayal I prefer Spielberg’s movies over this book. Spielberg gave his characters ounces more optimism than Crichton’s hopeless bloodbath.
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