Monday, 29 June 2015

Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton

I read this probably about 15 years ago, and what with the release of Jurassic World and the new re-issue of the book, I thought it was high time for a re-read. Disclaimer: I've always loved dinosaurs- I begged to be allowed to see the original JP in 1993, but was 5 years old. So that didn't happen. Anyway. Lots of love for dinosaurs (and also for the birds that they became, incidentally).

The premise of the book is very similar to the film. Identical, really, as far as sticking to the source material goes in film adaptations, Jurassic Park was pretty much on the money. Eccentric billionaire John Hammond, away from the prying eyes of authority and regulation and scientific ethics, develops a state-of-the-art theme park. Filled with dinosaur attractions cloned from DNA discovered in fossilised tree sap, it's the only park of its kind in the world. In order to appease his financiers and gather support from the research community for his project, he invites an assortment of experts to visit the part to cast their opinion. These are renowned but introverted palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant, his palaeobotany student Dr Ellie Sattler, sass-master Chaotician Dr Ian Malcolm, lawyer Gennaro and, unbeknown to the rest of the group, his grandchildren Tim and Lex. So far, so familiar.

It's weird reading a single book and seeing which bits were used as set pieces in various films. Raptors in the kitchen, JPI. Compy beach attack on a child, used in JPII. Pterosaur aviary attack, JPIII. Tyrannosaur Jeep buffet, JPI. Compys nibble a guy to death, JPII. All this damned source material in one book! I just love it. Thoroughly enjoyed this re-read and was virtually punching the air at certain points, humming the theme tune to myself.

As ever, the novel gives us a better and more thorough insight into the minds of the characters. Alan Grant is much more of a competent action man than the film gives him credit for and is by far the character followed the most throughout the narrative. We see him steering his child charges through Jurassic Park, torn between getting as much distance between them and the pointy teeth as possible, and hanging around to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity to study the animals and prove his hypothesis right or wrong once and for all. I liked that he and Ellie aren't an item in the novel- always this need for Hollywood to romanticise even the most unromantic scenarios (ie dino rampage). The reader gets a better understanding of InGen creator John Hammond too- in the film he realises fairly early on that his park is a dangerous island of death and has no problem admitting that, eventually. Book Hammond is much more of a lunatic, in absolute denial until his dying breath about the threat that his life's work poses. Right through he's convinced a few tweaks and a bit more fence and everything will be business as usual, no matter what catastrophe is playing out in front of his eyes.

It might not be prose of the highest quality, but it's an incredibly enjoyable read, full of action, peril and toothsome creatures. Though the sections on the nature of chaos (as in the maths thing, not dino-based chaos) swooshed right over my head, I loved Ian Malcolm getting all technical with Hammond, him kind of relishing the told-you-so moments but wishing he was wrong at the same time. I love how drily sarcastic he is. What a dude. The Rex of the novel is so much more persistent and intelligent than its film relative, tracking and pursuing, not just popping up at the end to dish out justice to the raptors at the end.

It doesn't matter that 60% of the characters end up dead. I would totally go to that park.

No comments:

Post a Comment