Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jurassic Park Book Review

by The World Weary

Author: Michael Crichton
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Jurassic Park Book One
Pages: 448

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When Dinosaurs Ruled the World

Jurassic Park is as informative as it is explosive. The sense of awe the Crichton inserts into almost every scene raises this book above mere escapism. You’ll be hard pressed to find such a fascinating, fast paced thriller that doubles as a wonderful look at what modern science knows about Dinosauria. An almost perfect book.

In the wake of the surge of new scientific information on genetics many science fiction authors were given a goldmine of new plausible scenarios. Cloning, however ineffective it is, became a reality. Where many authors took that idea and ran with it, producing stories of cloned humans, one author took the science behind the idea and applied it to everybody’s favorite extinct beasts.

In Jurassic Park, Crichton explores the idea of collecting dinosaur DNA and using it to clone great and powerful animals in the name of entertainment. A powerful company led by the eccentric billionaire John Hammond has acquired enough DNA to create groups of many different kinds of dinosaur. Hammond sets up a zoo on a small island off the coast of Costa Rica around the “terrible lizards” and invites several experts to preview the island to ease the growing fears of his investors.

Among the people he invites are paleontologist Alan Grant, paleobotanist Ellie Sattler, and “rock star” mathematician Ian Malcom. Immediately the group begins to see the danger inherent in such an undertaking, but Hammond persists and they find themselves taking a tour of his park. Rapidly, problems begin to pop up all over the small island, and soon everyone finds themselves in a desperate struggle for survival.

Crichton perfectly ramps up the tension with each scene. Whether he’s following the park’s staff trying to bring the park back online, or the survivors weaving in and out of an ecosystem that’s trying to find an equlibrium, the book is never dull. Crichton has a good sense of his characters as well, and the diverse array of personalities and beliefs come into conflict more than once with thought provoking consequences. The real stars of this book however are the dinosaurs. The way they move and look come off so plausibly that it’s hard to remember that this is just a science fiction book and not a National Geographic special. The Velociraptors in particular are a group of characters that are as fascinating as the humans who drive the story.

The reason the dinosaurs jump off the page is that Crichton painstakingly researched the biggest finds and theories of many world renowned paleontologists and used their science to create a world that you can believe. He doesn’t just use their findings as a backdrop, but he also explains their theories in a way that’s neither condescending or confusing. Some of this book’s finest moments aren’t when the dinosaurs are attacking helpless humans, but when the experts start waxing lyrical on their subjects.

Malcom’s rants about an emerging school of thought called Chaos Theory stand out as some of the funniest and most interesting arguments. Even when the characters aren’t explaining their views or findings, Crichton is. This is an author who clearly knows his stuff, and respects his audience enough to make sure that they’re not left in the dark on any important subject. By the end of the book you’ll probably have learned many new things.

A fantastic story of man versus nature and a man who played god, Jurassic Park is a thrilling page turner that will educate you as well as entertain. Crichton’s knowledge on the topic is profound and his enthusiasm seeps of the page and becomes infectious. And when you aren’t learning something, you’re treated to one of the most tense well written thrillers of the last century. A truly wonderful book.

Score: 9.8

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