Jurassic Park – Thriller by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Most people in the western world will have seen the movie of this name. It was released in 1993, directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern. Interestingly, Spielberg acquired the movie rights to the book for $1.5 million, before it was published. Crichton was then hired to adapt his novel for the silver screen. It was later amended by David Koepp.

Some of you might be wondering at the wisdom of reviewing a book that is based on a story so well-known via the movies. Surely it’s pointless? Well, no, it isn’t, at least not in this case. Should you ever read the novel you will find that it differs markedly from the film.

Which is better? Book snobs will claim that the book is always superior. However, this reviewer once pointed out to a female book fanatic (who had made such a claim in both aggressive and enthusiastic tones to her audience) that the Mel Gibson directed movie, The Passion Of The Christ, was far better than the book. The young woman glared for a while before throwing a thump at this unfortunate reviewer. In the case of Jurassic Park, both are individually excellent.

Rebel Voice won’t go into the minutiae of the plot as it largely resembles that of the movie. However, we will share some of the differences. Note: there will be some spoilers in the following.

The characters of Dr Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler, the dinosaur hunters, remain consistent, although there is no hint of any romance between them in the book. You always got the feeling in the movie that they were mad to shag one another whenever the dinosaurs stopped trying to eat them. John Hammond, played so ably by Richard Attenborough, is a completely different character. In the book, he is a thoroughly nasty person who cares nothing for his grandchildren. It’s strange to see the difference between that which is represented on the screen and that in the book; from a cuddly grandpa and eccentric, to a cold, manipulating oligarch.

As for the grandchildren; in the movie the girl is the oldest and the boy the younger rascal. The roles are reversed in the book with the girl being a real handful but still coming across as very brave. They seem more true-to-life somehow. The dinosaur sheriff on the island, Muldoon (great white hunter), is a drunk in the book (well, with an Irish name he would have to be would, wouldn’t he… hmm… ). There is also a vet who plays a more central role to the plot. The person of Dennis Nedry, the greedy computer expert, is similar to that in the film.

When the trouble with the dinosaurs begins, the island has a lot of staff on it whereas in the movie it is almost deserted. The not inconsequential matter of the raptors is also changed. The movie has only a few of them which escape their compound. That still happens here, but for some reason there is also a breeding population of them across the island, 37 to be exact. That does affect the plot, as does the existence of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex (8 ft tall) who has keeps popping up all over the place to effect the flow of events.

The adult T-Rex is a central figure, but the story-line has her chasing Grant and the children down a river and behind a waterfall. In this there seem to be elements from the Jurassic Park movie sequel, The Lost World. When Crichton was pressured into writing a sequel, he struggled to square his circle. Ian Malcolm, the mathematician from the first book (who does die in it) is resurrected for the second instalment. Perhaps Bobby Ewing should have accompanied him to the island? Additionally, John Hammond, owner of Jurassic Park also dies in the first book yet survives in the movie of the same name and appears in the second movie. If moving between the two art-forms, it all becomes a bit muddled.

In Jurassic Park, the book, small dinosaurs called Compys (for short) reach the mainland of Central America. However, that event is reserved in the movies for the second one. Confused? Good, as Rebel Voice developed a sore head from thinking about it all and it’s nice to share the pain. In any event, reading Jurassic Park, the book, is easy. Just forget the movie as best you can and enjoy the ride. Oh yes, before we move on, there are also Pterodactyls in this novel, located in the aviary. But those particular creatures don’t make an appearance in the movie franchise until the third one titled, Jurassic Park III. There really is a jumble between books and films which complements neither.

Jurassic Park is a very good read. It is fast and furious with a slightly darker feel than its movie counterpart. The characters are less Disneyfied and more real. It takes the reader on an extended adventure from that in the movie, which was a nice surprise. The ending is also a strange one as the raptors appear, en masse, on a beach just before the island is bombed by the Costa Rican military. As Grant and the others look on, the dinosaurs line up in formation facing north-east. The conclusion is that they are getting ready to migrate. They are the precursors of birds, after all.

Rebel Voice would certainly read the sequel (Lost World) to this thrilling novel. Forgetting about the movies is not easy as they made quite an impact. But given the time and space it’s possible to blur the memories. That would certainly help in the enjoyment of the books. Christmas approaches Ireland, so movie time is here again. Rebel Voice will struggle to avoid the Jurassic franchise on screen, yet will endeavour to persevere.

Sult scale rating: 8.5 out of 10. This is a very good book and deserving of your time. It might surprise you in the differences that emerge from the movie that dominates the concept. Don’t let having seen the movie stop you from reading this book. If you enjoyed the flick, you will enjoy the novel.

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