Author: Michael Crichton
Series: Jurassic Park #1
If you’ve seen Jurassic Park the movie, you pretty much know the gist of the plot. It’s also a safe bet that you’re going to find the first half the book mind numbingly boring. It goes into a lot of detail about how a billionaire managed to make real live dinos. If I hadn’t been so familiar with the set-up, I would’ve enjoyed the world building a lot better. However, using 50% of the book to explain the science, technology and different theories that went into creating Jurassic Park is a wee bit excessive. But the second half of the book makes all that waiting well worth it.
Jurassic Park doesn’t get interesting until the dinosaurs finally start escaping and eating people. As wonderful as the animatronics were in the movie, they couldn’t quite live-up to how the dinos are portrayed here. Crichton makes it clear that these aren’t the dinosaurs that used to inhabit the Earth, but things pieced together by humans making assumptions about how nature works. It’s a combination of arrogance, lack of responsibility and laziness that makes the park turn into such a disaster.
My only complaint, aside from that mind numbing beginning, is with the young girl character, Lex. Lex was the bane of my existence while reading this book. She’s the youngest and serves no purpose. I actually left the book immensely disappointed that Crichton didn’t let a raptor or T-Rex eat her. Lex spends the entire book complaining about how hungry she is, how dinosaurs are stupid and how she doesn’t have to listen to anybody on that island because none of them are her parents. She does this even when being stalked by a T-Rex. Every time she opened her mouth it was to spout some stupid line that made me want to bang the book against my forehead because I couldn’t strangle her.
In connection to my complaints about Lex, I have to ask. Where were all the women? The only other female character is Dr. Grant’s grad student who plays an extremely minor role. She essentially just sits at Malcolm’s bedside and reassures the reader that Grant will probably be fine running from a bunch of dinosaurs. She does get one good part where she plays bait, but that only lasts for a couple of pages. I will say that at least the movie gave the two female characters some actual uses. Like Lex was intelligent and had some valuable skills with computers that played a role. In the book it’s Tim, her brother, who is good with computers. He also has all the knowledge of dinosaurs and keeps a cool head in every situation. He’s like a little savant. In fact, now that I think about it, everything that eventually gets the survivors off of the island was Grant and Tim’s doing. It’s like Grant and Tim single handedly save everyone who believed that the park was a bad idea. Not sure if I’m completely down with that when there were so many other characters who it would’ve made more sense to have contribute in some way to getting them off the island.
Anyway, despite a few hang-ups I really enjoyed the last half of this book. I probably won’t be reading The Lost World, but this was a fun romp.