Jurassic Park : a novel

by Michael Crichton

Paper Book, 1990




New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1990.


On a remote jungle island, genetic engineers have created a dinosaur game park. But as always there is a dark side to the fantasy and after a catastrophe destroys the park's defence systems, the scientists and tourists are left fighting for survival.

Media reviews

The Jurassic Park is a novel by Michael Crichton, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1990. The version I've read is the Hungarian edition, published by Maecenas Könyvkiadó in 1992. Jurassic Park is an adventure story, set in the near future on a dinosaur-based theme park, where everything goes
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wrong. Crichton's writing is captivating. He is able to show us a believable character in a page or two. I recommend the Jurassic Park book for anyone who would like to read a thrilling adventure story.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member aethercowboy
If you were like me, and grew up around the same time I did, you too probably saw Jurassic Park, the Spielberg film, long before you knew about this Crichton fellow.

While Spielberg may be the master of making a film that is good for its designed demographic (though I contest this point strongly
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with A.I., but that is a long diatribe I'd rather not get into now...), he also seems to dumb things down when they're family-friendly blockbusters, just so the kids don't get bored when the mathematicians are discussing chaos theory between the times that dinosaurs are eating things and roaring.

Fortunately, Crichton's work, which came first, doesn't fret about kids (or even adults) getting bored learning about chaos theory, and about how certain trends are indicative of certain migratory and breeding patterns, and whatnot. But at the same time, it's not like reading a comprehensive text on mathematics. He punctuated the slow parts with edge-of-your-seat thriller action, making a book that would appeal to anyone who finds themselves reading New York Times bestselling authors, like Tom Clancy or John Grisham, only with dinosaurs instead of extremist terrorists or big-time slimy lawyers (though, there is a lawyer in this book, so be warned).

I must say that when Crichton picked a topic to write about, he did his research, and while not 100% accurate, are at least presented in a believable way, writing about certain topics with a sort of confidence in his words, he made the works believable to the general populace, which while not the best writing style to the purist, is still a good writing style to the economist.

If you like techno-thrillers or stories of dinosaurs and the humans they try to eat, or if you're a fan of each and every NYT bestseller (if you are, you've probably already read this book), then you may find yourself enjoying Jurassic Park. You probably won't enjoy it if you're either a very well studied paleontologist or someone who only reads "good" books, with a reading level requiring a college degree, or even an ultra-college degree.
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LibraryThing member coloradogirl14
My favorite Crichton novel and one of my favorite novels of all time, mainly because the suspense is palpable, and most importantly, realistic. What I love about Crichton's novels is that he is able to not only explain complicated scientific and technological concepts in layman's terms, but he is
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also able to make these concepts believable without insulting the reader's intelligence.

I was also impressed with the philosophical elements of the story, although I imagine some readers might consider this a too-obvious intrusion of the author's opinions. Normally, I get frustrated with authors who attempt this, but somehow it works with Crichton and he has an interesting perspective on the inherent power of scientific discovery.

A fantastic techno-thriller and a fantastic story overall. I've read Jurassic Park about twenty times and I plan to read it twenty more in the future.
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LibraryThing member superpeer
***WARNING: Minor spoilers, nitpicking and ranting ahead***

First of all, let me stress that this is a very enjoyable book. It is ably written, quite thrilling and hard to put down. I remember loving the film back in the day, but never realised how much old Spielberg actually changed. Good to learn
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Crichton didn't actually have people's head bitten off whilst sitting on the toilet. So yeah, Steve hollywood'd it up real good, not sure if I would still enjoy the movie as much as I did: books have that effect.

Not that the book is a whopping scientific revelation. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty interesting, especially if you like dinosaurs. But sometimes I was just a little bothered by things that seemed far fetched, bizarre or plain stupid. And I do like dinosaurs, it boggles my mind how a whole class of animals could vanish like that. Basically, extinct animals make me sad. Anyway, because of this I was getting a little annoyed at some of the things happening at Jurassic Park. I mean, the people designing Jurassic Park were obviously drunk. Somehow, you can only turn main power on in a random maintenance building in the middle of the jungle, adjacent to the raptor area. Of course, when the power is off, the electric fences are off and what you got then is a swarm of velicoraptors blocking your way. This calls for suicide missions into the shed, which is of course dark as f*ck inside, and for some reason also filled with hungry dinosaurs. Nevertheless, mostly everyone is willing to do this. Everyone is always volunteering to go on these crazy quests, which leads me to believe that everyone must be drunk on this island.
But wait, there is a back up generator, for emergency electricity. That should solve things, right? Well, actually, the auxiliary power runs everything except the electrified fences to keep the dinos in place. Which makes me wonder what the hell it is for in the first place. To keep the vending machine going? Maybe to keep the freezers in the kitchen running, because they were still on. Priorities. Yeah.

By the way, the power was off, because Dennis Nedry(who is one of the coolest characters in the movie), the guy who designed the computer system, turned it off. He turned it off so he could go steal some dino embryos. So wait, he turns off all the electricity on the fences, and then he goes into the park. In the dark. During a storm. Hey, that's not very smart. This computer system can do a lot, you can tickle the Tyrannosaur Rex's anus with the push of a button, so to speak. But you can't turn the power back on. Hmm.

How do the dinos get out anyway? Somewhere in the book it's mentioned that every enclosure was surrounded by trenches, filled with water. Not to mention the high voltage fences. It's also mentioned that the animals wouldn't try to break out because they know they would get shocked if they touched the fence (somehow hovering over the trenches). Buuut, they do it anyway. Of course, it is later revealed that the T-Rex can swim, which I find a little hard to believe, considering it has those tiny retard-frontpaws. But there they are, swimming, which makes digging trenches filled with water a little useless.

Rexy and the Raptors are quite something. For some reason they have to kill everything they see (maybe they are drunk too). The T-Rex makes it his (her, whatever) business to destroy Dr. Grant and the two kids. He kills a big dinosaur, eats some of it and takes a nap. He then hears the girl shout (she can get quite annoying at times, she really deserved to have some limbs bitten off) and gets up and starts swimming, following the raft. He follows them through the jungle and shows up EVERYWHERE. It gets a little annoying. It's also a little weird, it's like a tiger going through countless efforts to kill some mice. He can also use his tongue to catch kids, like some kind of chameleon.

The raptors have even more superpowers, though. They are really intelligent. They can jump like a kangaroo on a trampoline. They can also see in the dark, because they are apparently nocturnal. Dr. Grant tells us this, they are nocturnal animals. How the hell do you know that, Dr. Grant? Did you see it in their BONES? In short they are superkillingmachines. Oh and by the way, Dr. Grant, there are a lot of reptiles who can reproduce asexually. We don't even need your sex change frog theory, man.

I should probably stop ranting, because as I said, it really is a nice book to read, if you can manage not to think to hard about the details. Just have to mention that John Hammond is a bit of a d*ck and Dr. Malcolm with his chaos theory visions isn't really quite the oracle he is made out to be. I mean the park was just a disaster, it would've totally worked if no one had been drunk. But what can you do?

PS: Dear America, please stop using feet and the like. It's hard enough for me to imagine 6 metres, never mind '20 feet'. This book got me counting in basketball players. I figured, 7 ft is 2 metres or something. So 20 ft is three basketball players standing on each other's head. Let me tell you, it doesn't really paint the picture.
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LibraryThing member kayleighdee
A few weeks ago Elena from With Extra Pulp journeyed over to Bondi Beach for Ikea’s 30th celebration of the Billy Bookcase. 30 Billy bookcases were lined up on Bondi Beach, creating the world’s longest outdoor bookcase. Over 6000 books were donated to the cause, and you could either take some
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of your own books to swap, or buy the ones you wanted in return for a donation to the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation. I didn’t expect much in the way of titles to choose from, but took along a few books of my own to swap. Finding Jurassic Park amongst the titles was probably one of the highlights of my day.

Hidden away on the tiny island of Isla Nublar off the coast of Costa Rica, International Genetic Technologies Inc. (INGEN) has a secret. One with fifteen species, 238 specimens and a hell of an appetite. Whilst the head of INGEN, John Hammond, thinks he has the situation under control, a series of violent animal attacks on the Costa Rican mainland has the authorities worried. Particularly since the attackers resemble lizards for the most part—except that they walk upright on their hind legs. Hammond’s legal team insist that the island, home to Jurassic Park, undergo an evaluation to determine its potential for danger to visitors and neighbouring communities. Embarrassed over the claims of his legal team, Hammond invites some of his project consultants on a ’special holiday’ to Isla Nublar. Among them is paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, paleobotantist Dr. Ellie Sattler, and chaos mathematician Ian Malcolm, as well as Hammond’s grandchildren Mike and Lex. Arriving by helicopter along with computer technician Dennis Nedry, they are eager to see the first of Jurassic Park’s exhibits, but not even Ian Malcolm can predict what happens next.

Jurassic Park is an amazing read. Having seen the film (as I’m sure most of us have), I wondered just how good the book could possibly be — it might be dull, too technical, even alienating. Spielberg’s adaption had captured my heart as young and slightly nerdy dinosaur fan, and I doubted Crichton’s ability to keep me interested in a story that I already knew. Yet within the first few chapters my fears were blown out of the water. Crichton is a very talented author and delivers his story in a way that is both thrilling and informative. The characterisation is fantastically realistic, to the point where I wanted to sit Hammond and Lex down and give them both a good talking-to, and despite the scientific content, the book has a satisfyingly strong momentum. I was surprised to see diagrams in the text that looked like they belonged more appropriately in a chemistry textbook, but in the context of Jurassic Park they were extremely effective as a plot device.

What really astounded me though was Crichton’s use of, and portrayal of violence in the book. In a story of rampaging, out-of-control dinosaurs, violence is always sure to be only a few pages away. Having dabbled in a little horror and crime fiction, I’m accustomed to the overly descriptive paragraphs, frequented with adjectives, that tend to accompany stories of this nature, and expected Jurassic Park to be much the same. Instead I was struck by the effectiveness of Crichton’s sparse prose. Largely devoid of modifiers, the action raced along , aided by clever sentence structure that alternated between short decisive statements, and long sentences that encouraged you to read even quicker. Truly satisfying.

The hooting was louder as Nedry scrambled to his feet and staggered back against the side panel of the car, as a wave of nausea and dizziness swept over him. The dinosaur was close now, he could feel it coming close, he was dimly aware of its snorting breath.

But he couldn’t see.

He couldn’t see anything, and his terror was extreme.

He stretched out his hands, waving them wildly in the air to ward off the attack he knew was coming.

And then there was this new, searing pain, like a fiery knife in his belly, and Nedry stumbled, reaching blindly down to touch the ragged edge of his shirt, and then a thick, slippery mass that was surprisingly warm, and with horror he suddenly knew he was holding his own intestines in his hands. The dinosaur had torn him open. His guts had fallen out.

Ian Malcolm’s monologues were also particularly enjoyable. In a world where fake snow needs to be provided for the Winter Olympics, Sydneysider’s sweat through the hottest night on record for 13 years one week and freeze the next, I was surprised to be reading about character concerns about the ozone layer and the future of humanity on the world as we know it. Despite being published almost twenty years ago, much of this content is still overwhelming relevant in today’s modern context – Crichton was clearly well ahead of his time in terms of his scientific thinking.

Jurassic Park is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read for some time. Whilst being an obvious choice for dinosaur enthusiasts young and old, this isn’t a prerequisite for reading this book – Crichton’s own passion for the subject is more than enough to get you hooked. I’ll leave you with a quote of Ian Malcolm that I found particularly interesting – let me know what you think.

‘. . . The number of hours women devote to housework has not changed since 1930, despite all the advances. All the vacuum cleaners, washer-dryers, trash compactors, garbage disposals, wash-and-wear fabrics . . . Why does it still take as long to clean the house as it did in 1930?’

Ellie said nothing.

‘Because there haven’t been any advances,’ Malcolm said. ‘Not really. Thirty thousand years ago, when men were doing cave painting at Lascaux, they worked twenty hours a weekto provide themselves with food and shelter and clothing. The rest of the time, they could play, or sleep, or do whatever they wanted. And they lived in a natural world, with clean air, clean water, beautiful trees and sunsets. Think about it. Twenty hours a week. Thirty thousand years ago.’
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LibraryThing member brettjames
While this isn't the book that made Crichton famous, it is the book that he'll be remembered for. It's a quick read, and a rare case where the science is both accurate and evocative. I couldn't put this one down. I finished it in the wee hours of the morning, and, while there was no chance that
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dinosaurs were running around out on my dark lawn, you could have never convinced me of that.
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LibraryThing member Zebadiah9
The novel, Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, encompasses the theme men can't control mother nature. In the begginning of Jurrassic Park, the potagonist, Alan Grant, is studying fossils in his new campground when he gets a phone call by Hammond, a dinosaur nut, to visit his new park. Grant
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struggles with the fact that many infants are being attacked and a little girl just got attacked by a lizard unheard of; he doesn't understand this new animal and thinks Hammond has something to do with this. Throughout the middle of this novel, Grant is amazed of this park Hammond has created, it's a kind of zoo for dinosaurs, and Grant is amazed to finally see in person, the ancient creatures he's been studying for years. Testing the tour, Hammond insists that Grant, go's on the tour with Hammond's grandkids, Lex and Tim, while also having the compony of Ed Regis, his employee, and Malcolm, a math scientist. The tour turns into a disaster once Nedry, a greedy employee, turns off all security systems to capture some of the dinosaur embyo's so he can recieve money. With the system down, the dinosaurs escape their cages and attack the park's guest. Towards the end of this exciting novel, Grant and the kids rely on instinct to survive. They finally get to safety in the end and have learned the importance of team work to accomplish a goal.
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LibraryThing member StormRaven
Jurassic Park is Crichton's signature novel. Fortunately, it also happens to be his best, even though it does display his anti-technological fear mongering, his usual cast of reckless evil corporate goons (one of whom is so reckless he places his own grandchildren in harm's way), and a handful of
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virtuous heroes who immediately see all of the terrifying implications of the reckless decisions made by those goons and try to fix the problems unleashed by those decisions. In the end, the genie is put back in the bottle (mostly), poetic justice is served, and everything is hushed up.

To a certain extent, it is impossible to consider Jurassic Park as a book without considering the movie as well. The book is different than the movie, and I think the story in the book works better (especially since in the book, the lawyer survives and becomes something of a heroic character). Even though the method for cloning dinosaurs is silly science, it is better explained in the book, and the design and breakdown of park itself seems to make more sense. Malcolm's dire warnings are told better in the book too.

There is a plot involving human greed (although I have to wonder that the best idea that anyone could come up with to use this apparently revolutionary cloning technology was to make an amusement park, as villainous money-grabs, this seems pretty weak), hubris, and corporate espionage gone wrong. This plot is good enough, and well-executed, the book gains most of its fun from creating a quasi-plausible way that dinosaurs could interact with humans, often resulting in the dinosaurs having human for lunch. Further, the dinosaurs are scary and vicious in a way that they simply could not be in the movie, which heightens the sense of danger that the human characters are in.

This is Crichton's best work. Given his more recent output, it seems unlikely he will match it again, as his rampant fear mongering seems to have taken root and drowned out the other elements of his books. Even so, this book is well worth reading.
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LibraryThing member chase4720
I read Jurassic Park in my freshman English class and I remember being so annoyed we had to read a stupid science fiction book. I had seen the movie and was not all that impressed. Of course I should've known better! Jurassic Park was so phenominal I simply couldn't put it down. I read the whole
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book in one night and proceeded to collect all of Michael Crichton's novels. This man was a science fiction genius and I absolutely reccomend this book to everyone.
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LibraryThing member pablo12
In this story the characters are this scientist and a woman who goes with him to park where this old man had made clone of mostly every dinosaur. They think that every thing will be fine. they had made cloning DNA that would make dinosaurs come to live. one day they went on a tour to see every
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dinosaur in that park. they saw the T-REX place and they saw that the people were putting a goat in that
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LibraryThing member deslni01
Jurassic Park is one of the most successful and popular literary ventures ever, with high book sales, film gross in excess of $900 million, and popular toys and spin-off books aimed at children. Of course, the brunt of the sales was through and because of the Spielberg film, which set the bar for
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special effects, but the film had to be based on something.

And that something was Crichton's cautionary tale involving some of the most captivating creatures ever - dinosaurs. What the story lacks in character depth and development (and complete annoyance in the form of Alexis) it makes up with gripping, intense sequences and escapades. Crichton can keep most readers glued to their seats, gripping the pages tightly with the excitement of the dinosaurs, and transfers a fear to even the most curious and amazed readers.

The science behind the book, while not correct and used with stylistic liberty, seems real and with Crichton's explanations makes sense for the common person without a strong background or interest in genetics and biotechnology. And, of course, Crichton has a message to the reader - be fearful of these sciences, because they are very dangerous in the wrong hands yet have almost zero governance.

As Ian Malcolm, that zany chaotician says,

Let's be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. we are in jeopardy. We haven't got the planet to destroy the planet - or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves,

by learning to regulate such sciences and admitting that nature has a power over mankind and will never relinquish that top spot.
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LibraryThing member kawgirl
Way better than the movie and a good read.
LibraryThing member stpnwlf
One of the few SF novels to translate very well to the screen. Still, the novel is much more detailed and complex. One of Crichton's better novels.
LibraryThing member typo180
The two biggest takeaways I had are that Crichton had a sinister view of scientists and that he didn't really understand what they do. Errors abound in his treatment of science from chaos theory to genetics to computer systems to the characteristics of the scientific community.

That being said, the
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story is exciting and compelling! If you can look past the unrealistic scenarios that get everyone is trouble, the book is a real page-turner. The prose I think is just OK and the treatment of Ellie and Lex leaves something to be desired (I love what they did with those characters in the movie).

I've been discussing this with friends and the odd thing about that plot that really sticks out is that Crichton spends so much time berating the scientists for going too far and creating something they shouldn't have, but the catalyst for disaster is almost always carelessness on the part of the corporations.

Hammond repeatedly said that they spared no expense, but their containment systems were completely inadequate, their safety and emergency response procedures were a joke, their computer systems were designed terribly and were only understood by a single person. It's almost enough for me to think that Crichton meant to write this from the point of view of an unreliable narrator who didn't understand computers and hated scientists.

The fatal flaw in the park was not science gone too far, it was terrible engineering and design (and some poor choices about which dinosaurs to create while the system was still untested).

As an example, the most critical and obvious priority for the park was to keep the dinosaurs contained. That one task should have been done by the strongest, most redundant, most fool-proof and failure-resistant system in the park, but on a remote tropical island, the containment of the dinosaurs was entirely dependent on their primary source of power working 100% of the time and it required a complex procedure on the part of the operator to restore. The fences turn off when they switch to auxiliary power? That's masterfully bad.
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LibraryThing member lilygirl
I never thought I would like a dinosaur book. I would have laughed if you told me that some day I would consider myself to be a "huge fan" of Jurassic Park, but the amazing thing about Crichton is that he so skillfully weaves the fantastic with hard science that I feel as though I am learning a
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thing or two about genetics and enjoying myself immensely in the process!
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LibraryThing member CareBear36
This is honestly one of the most well-written books I have ever read.

With enough science to balance out the suspense and thrill, this is truly a masterpiece.

I will admit, I only read it because of the movie and one of my relatives had a copy laying around. But I am so glad I read it. I loved the
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well-researched storyline and the continual message that people today really have no idea what dinosaurs were like. With concepts like whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded, nesting behavior, intellect, and hunting strategies, this book presents interesting speculation. At times the text was predictably violent. But through suspense and cliffhangers it really keeps the reader engaged.

My only complaint was that I would have liked to see more female characters. Dr. Sattler was great, but the only other main female was Lex, who was the most annoying 8-year-old I've ever encountered.

Overall a great book that I definitely recommend.
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LibraryThing member RogueBelle
This book epitomizes what it means to be a pseudo-scientific thriller. A rollicking ride, with just enough 'real' science explained to keep it somewhat in the realm of plausibility, 'Jurassic Park' is an exciting read. A professed dinosaur nut, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
LibraryThing member jshillingford
I hadn’t heard about this book until the first movie was released. My initial reaction was, “it’s a horror flick with dinosaurs – no way!” Luckily, I ended up seeing the movie at a dorm party after it was released on DVD. I enjoyed the movie, despite my misgivings and thought, “how bad
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can the book be?” Turned out that, as is often the case, the book was far superior to the film.

I thought it would be a horror novel, but Jurassic Park is actually a science fiction thriller. A SciFi thriller that made me a loyal fan of Michael Crichton. John Hammond has found a way to recreate living dinosaurs. And he is far less grandfatherly and sentimental than the film version. He’s a businessman out to make money, who will let nothing stand in his way. One of the things that makes the book so much better is the emphasis on the science. In the movie viewers are like, “yeah sure, they make dinosaurs, disbelief suspended.” In the book, Crichton lays it out with creepy realism, formulas and charts. At some points, it becomes a little too much and I actually skimmed overly some highly technical bits, but overall it adds to the credibility of the story. Crichton also lays out the computer science in more detail, such as the motions sensor tracking, the flaws in a mainframe system, etc. I was drawn into the novel in a way not possible with the movie. The character development is also top notch. Ian becomes more than a loony fringe scientist, and Hammond is much better as a quasi-villain. However, the kids got on my last nerve. They weren’t as well developed as the adult characters, too mired in stereotypical “kidness.” The little girl’s constant whining was really annoying . However, that was the only aspect of the novel that I didn’t care for. The dialog was great, the action sequences vivid and the ending more than satisfying.

Overall, this was a tight, fast paced novel. Crichton obviously did his research, making the science very real, but the action and adventure made the story come alive. With the advent of cloning, the book still stands strong today. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.
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LibraryThing member ChristopherTurner
excellent read - only one issue, it was clearly written as a script.
LibraryThing member kelsoli
I think Crichton peaked with this book. For sure, his last 3 (I'm thinking of Next, State of Fear, and that one about little nanobots) aren't worthy reads, but this one, along with some of his older ones, is.

There's a lot of preachiness in this book, such as the whole "don't mess with Nature" thing
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and the "just desserts" idea that all the bad guys get punished in the end, but it's not to be expected that an author writes utterly without an agenda. The book was so imaginative (speculative, maybe is a better word) and awe-inspiring, that the message was subliminal enough not to be offensive. And to be honest, I think both those themes are fair and right as precautions.

This is one of those books (along with Watership Down and Shadow on Hawthorn Bay and The Talisman) that I like to reread periodically. So far, it hasn't much dated itself - not that I'm a scientist or mathematician - and the characters are still appealing and realistic enough to enjoy, to root for and to fear for. And how can you go wrong when each dinosaur species has it's own personality?
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LibraryThing member Anome
Michael Crichton wrote and directed the classic Science Fiction film Westworld in the 1960s. In the 80s he reworked the plot using the trendy topics of genetic engineering and chaos theory, and came up with Jurassic Park.

Unfortunately, his understanding of the possibilities of both subjects was
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weak, and the plot rapidly descended into a car crash of outrageous coincidence. People familiar with Crichton's other early novel The Andromeda Strain will recognise this as a flaw in his writing.
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LibraryThing member etimme
I end up watching Jurassic Park once or twice a year, but it has been about 15 years since I last read the book, so it is easy to forget about how well written and full of detail it is. The book is a lot more suspenseful than the movie, weaving the survival/escape plot with a doomsday clock in the
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form of two raptors that snuck aboard a supply ship heading to the mainland. Hammond is also both oblivious and self-centered, in stark contrast to Father Christmas from the movie.
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LibraryThing member kjsmulvihill
Fans of the movie by Michael Crichton will be even bigger fans of the book, which explores the ethics of science and chaos theory in great detail. Crichton even breaks down the chapters into elements of chaos. This novel provides interesting commentary on modern science as well as the excitement of
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the movie.
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LibraryThing member kjsmulvihill
Fans of the movie by Michael Crichton will be even bigger fans of the book, which explores the ethics of science and chaos theory in great detail. Crichton even breaks down the chapters into elements of chaos. This novel provides interesting commentary on modern science as well as the excitement of
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the movie.
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LibraryThing member kmulvihill
Fans of the movie by Michael Crichton will be even bigger fans of the book, which explores the ethics of science and chaos theory in great detail. Crichton even breaks down the chapters into elements of chaos. This novel provides interesting commentary on modern science as well as the excitement of
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the movie.
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LibraryThing member DeDeNoel
There isn't much to say about Jurassic Park that hasn't been said. It is an amazing adventure that is unputdownable! I consider it a classic. I mean, how can you go wrong?
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