Author Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park brings to life {literally} a world of wonder… and heart-pounding terror. Westward off the coast of Costa Rica lies Isla Nublar, new home to about fifteen species of ancient animals revived through the magic of science! Dinosaurs, folks. We’re talking about dinosaurs.

Of course, most of you know all about Jurassic Park thanks largely in part to director Steven Speilberg. And while Michael wrote the screenplay for Speilberg, the film adaptation is quite different from its source material. For one, eccentric philanthropist with a love for kids Mr. John Hammond is in fact a greedy, whip-cracking capitalist with an ego larger than some of his animals, and his focus is so set on opening the park and making tonnes of money that he fails to see the issues with the park even to the bitter end, when he dies at the mercy of many hungry mouths of tiny, vicious Procompsognathus.

Second, the sheer number of cameos by these wonderful Mesozoic animals and, in particular, the carnivore’s bloodlust, brings some good pacing and variety to the story arc. Take for example the Velociraptors in the novel: pack hunters, they coordinate efficiently and swiftly when the power grid fails for the second time, and head straight for the visitor’s compound to harass, maim, and devour the nearly helpless humans barricaded inside. They practically toy with Dr. Ellie Sattler until the last moment, when it turns out they were merely distracting her (and the others) long enough to draw them away from those who were on the roof, who proceeded to violently kill the veterinarian Dr. Harding and give Dr. Sattler a real run for her life.

And Tyrannosaurus… the big king, well, queen herself, is glorious. Because of course all* of the genetically engineered creatures in the park are female (*nearly true, except for a few notable species who happened to have amphibian DNA spliced in, allowing them to change their sex and breed uncounted amongst the confines of the park). She has a human snack courtesy of Ed Regis when the power fails during a tropical storm, scatters off the rest after tossing a vehicle into a tree with Tim still inside, and throws Dr. Malcolm into the brush after nearly tearing his leg clean off. Then she proceeds to hunt some unsuspecting hadrosaurs while the fences are down, tracks down Dr. Grant and the kids on their backroad excursion through the park after being disturbed from her midday nap, and nearly has Tim for lunch when, thankfully, Muldoon comes along and tranquilizer’s her into a small coma.

One of my favourite creatures detailed in this novel are, of course, the raptors. While not technically Velociraptors — in fact they’re representatives of their close cousins, Deinonychus — the author paints our first encounters with these animals behaving as cold-blooded killers who play with their food. But later, Dr. Grant tags a juvenile male with a desire for companionship and playfulness, and tracks him to an underground nest where he, Dr. Sattler, and the lawyer Donald Gennaro witness these creature showing many amazing traits: parental care, cunning intelligence, and an almost hive-mind-esque ability to communicate amongst themselves, showing no outward aggression to these three fleshy meals-on-wheels who came careening into their domain. It really made you feel for these misunderstood beasts… Of course, it all when sky-high in a military execution of napalm to decimate the island and its ecosystem.

The park was a failure, and almost everyone involved was either dead or nearly so: a sober wake up call to the horrors one can witness when science goes too far. Not a huge divergence from the film, but definitely more cutthroat and raw than it’s almost toned-down pop culture counterpart.

Not wanting to give too much more way (and trust me, there’s so much more!), I highly recommend a thorough read of this novel for anyone — particularly a sci-fi and/or horror fan. I personally found a copy pretty cheap at my local Cole’s/Chapters Indigo on a 2 for $10 deal and, at a quarter of a century old, it would likely be an easy find at a local used bookstore or library too. Happy reading; remember, keep it monstrous folks!

~The One Known as Jake

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