Posted in Reviews

Review: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Image courtesy Wikipedia.

It is infinitely hard for me to give this book an unbiased review, but I will endeavor to do so. Though the cause and effect aren’t very clear, it seems that I have always loved dinosaurs and Jurassic Park. I do not intend to compare the book and movie. With this knowledge and the image of me creating a purple velociraptor in a coloring book (which was, in some ways, more scientifically accurate than the movie, somehow), I begin this review.

Through the miracle of biotechnology and a little frog DNA, dinosaurs have been resurrected and populate a soon-to-be theme park off the coast of Costa Rica. To test his dream and please his investors, John Hammond brings in a team including a paleontologist, paleobotanist, chaos mathematician, investor, and his grandchildren. As the chaos mathematician predicts, things go horribly awry. The dinosaurs adapt to their new surroundings, escape their enclosures, and defy the biological measures meant to keep them dependent on humans and the island. As such, the humans fall a few notches down the food chain and must work to not only escape with their lives, but destroy the dinosaurs that could easily threaten the world.

As with most Crichton books I have read, the science is pretty sound (ignore the marketing decision to name the park Jurassic Park when the dinos come from a variety of periods). You can tell he did a lot of research, and there is an interesting sprinkling of knowledge throughout. There was perhaps a bit too much chaos theory for me, though.

The chaos mathematician, Ian Malcolm, had the propensity to drone on a bit much to the park’s creator, Hammond. To me, this was in part because of the book’s theme of nature, balance, and the emphasis that humanity doesn’t have as much control as we’d like to think. It’s very interesting to see where the research of that time period was at, whereas nowadays we more often depict many of the dinosaurs present in Jurassic Park with feathers. The thought that dinos could have evolved into birds was just gaining a resurgence, then.

The characters were compelling and actually thought about situations, though Lex was fairly annoying (she was eight, however, so I forgive her). You have to both love and hate Hammond, because he wanted so badly to bring the dinosaurs to life for the wonder of it all, but at the same time he’s happy charging thousands of dollars a day to make a boatload of cash off the park.

The dinosaurs are sometimes characterized as malevolent, which was a little off to me. I think it is human nature to perceive predators that are a danger to us as potentially malevolent, specifically those with a lot of intelligence, like the raptors. Nature, sometimes, is what we’d call “evil,” but we have to remember that morals are a human invention and we really can’t apply them to the rest of existence (killer whales wound baby seals and play with them, often never even eating the carcass).

Jurassic Park has an interesting and somewhat obvious lesson about science, humanity, and power. Science has become an increasingly commercialized endeavor; Wu becomes a paid scientist for Hammond rather than going to a university in order to skip red tape and make his mark on the world a lot earlier. As such, he hurriedly creates dinosaurs. Though a grand achievement, it also has a ton of flaws. Money, power, and ability often outweigh common sense.

Overall, I would call this book a READ. If you like dinosaurs, action, science, and complex moral issues, then this is probably a good choice for you. It isn’t exceedingly deep, however, and I don’t feel that the overall lesson of the book was super challenging (much like Dune; don’t rape the planet, don’t abuse the animals and system). It is a lovely world for me to step in, though, and I’m glad to have read it again. I understand a great deal more of it now that I’m not in sixth grade.

Keep an eye out for my next review of this book’s sequel: Jurassic Park: The Lost World.

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