Inevitable Chaos: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton [1990]

Jurassic Park has always been one of my favourite films, and until recently I had no idea it was adapted from a book. The book is very different from the film – far more violent and fatalistic, and far from the Hollywood tint of the film; Dr Grant loves children, Hammond hates them, Tim and Lex are older brother and younger sister, Ellie and Grant are only student and teacher, and oh boy is the death toll higher.
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A billionaire has created a technique to clone dinosaurs. From the DNA that his crack team of scientists extract, he is able to grow the dinosaurs in his laboratories and lock them away on an island behind electric fences, creating a sort of theme park. He asks a group of scientists from several different fields to come and view the park, but something goes terribly wrong when a worker on the island turns traitor and shuts down the power.Synopsis from GoodReads

Those who have watched the film will recognise the majority of the characters; Dr Grant, Dr Sattler, Tim and Lex Murphy, Gennaro, Hammond and Malcolm – all well imagined three-dimensional characters. My only disappointments were the roles of the female characters Dr Ellie Sattler and Lex Murphy, who are not big players as they are in the film – I would have liked the former to have been able to do more and the latter to have shut up more. However, knowing Crichton wrote the screenplay makes me happy; it’s almost like he wrote two versions just for my enjoyment, depending on my mood I can opt for optimism or pessimism, with each still retaining Crichton’s message.

Jurassic Park criticises the levels to which scientists interfere with the world; Crichton appears to be illustrating that as a society progression no longer seems to be assisting the way we function, instead it is competitive and God-like. Throughout the novel Hammond and Malcolm argue about science and its interference with the world; as Hammond tries to justify his actions, Malcolm argues that nature is a powerful thing that can take care of itself in a way humans can’t. This got me thinking about Global Warming; Global Warming is not ideal for the planet, but life in some form always survives – that’s how we populate the planet today. We are just trying to combat climate change so we can sustain human life, we are taking care of ourselves; trying to fix problems we created in the first place, not thinking about the wider consequences.

Crichton paints scientists as master villains, too concerned with having the next discovery than what their work may produce. Ian Malcolm – I have assumed – is Crichton’s voice in the novel, explaining why Jurassic Park was a consistently bad idea from the very conception – educating and grilling us with information to highlight the selfish nature of the product. Hammond continually states that he wants his dinosaurs for children’s entertainment, but he has no concern at all for his grandchildren, he wants power and recognition, he wants to be adored. The children’s smiling faces mean nothing other than adoration, their happiness is irrelevant.

Jurassic Park works fantastically with its fatalistic attitude, the novel itself flows as if Ian Malcolm had calculated a theorem for it – there was to be no winning. This is not a heartfelt journey where characters learn from their mistakes and live happily ever after, if it were Lex, Timmy’s younger sister, would have been told off for her frankly ridiculous attitude at least once. Accurate depiction of a child dealing with divorce, inaccurate depiction of adult discipline. However, I would say that is my only complaint, a too realistic young child – which isn’t really a complaint at all.

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Kelly
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It’s been ages since I read this one, but I remember it being one of the first times I read a book after having seen the movie–and I was astounded at how much better the book was. Jurassic Park is an iconic film, but the book tells the story better than Hollywood ever could. (Or maybe I’m just a sucker for that air of fatalism…ah well.)

Charlie
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I’ve not actually seen the film, though I know the plot. Therefore, unsurprisingly, I wasn’t aware it was based on a book, either. Both sound worthy of watching/reading in their own right. Interesting to read about the female characters and the difference, the film sounds better for that aspect at least.

DoingDewey
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I love Michael Crichton! It sounds like you liked this book, so I would definitely recommend you try some of this others. My favorites are some of his recent ones, Prey and Next, because they relate to scientific issues that are relevant today.

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