This was a Book Club book, and I’m glad it was picked, because like a lot of people I thought I knew the story of Jurassic Park – I saw the film at the cinema when it was first released back in 1993, and have seen it countless times since. It’s nothing short of brilliant, and I didn’t even think about reading the novel that it was based on. But not only is the book just as brilliant, it provides a variety of different aspects that the film doesn’t touch on.
I’m going to assume that everyone reading this will know the story – billionaire philanthropist John Hammond and his team of genetic scientists have discovered a way to clone dinosaurs, and have built a theme park in which visitors will be able to see them. Hammond invites a variety of experts to come and test the park for him, and the rest, as they say, is history. This makes for great action packed scenes on the big screen, but the book expands much more on the process of the dinosaur’s creation, the moral implications, and the implications of chaos theory. This is what gives the book the depth and richness that the film doesn’t have. Not that that’s a bad thing – it is of course often the way when a novel is adapted into a screenplay.
The best characters in the book for me were Hammond and Malcolm, the mathematician who’s prophecy of the ultimate failure of the park proves all too true. His cautionary voice is present throughout, and his musings continue on as the park crumbles around him and his fellow guests – a refreshingly blunt comparison to Hammond’s almost insane optimism. Hammond himself is a much more flawed character than he is in the film. He is childlike in his excitement over the park, often sounding a little unhinged, and completely unwilling to listen to any criticism, to the extent that he appears to not even hear any of the comments that Malcolm and the others make. The Hammond in the film accepts his mistakes and agrees that the park will never work, where the Hammond in the book has no intention of doing so, despite the horror unfolding around him and the danger faced by his own grandchildren. He remains convinced right until the end that he will be able to make Jurassic Park work.
“You know, at times like this one feels, well, perhaps extinct animals should be left extinct.”
For fans of the film, reading the book can only serve to enrich the story – it is not merely a word for word copy. I’m wholly looking forward to reading The Lost World.