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Jurassic Park, novel by Michael Crichton (1990) - Book review by Kadmon
Jurassic Park, novel by Michael Crichton (1990)
image © Penguin Random House

Article updated: 2021.11.18

The Jurassic Park is novel by Michael Crichton. The book was reviewed by Kadmon.

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Product: Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park novel (1990)

Original title: Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park

Series: Jurassic Park

Previous entries in the series: -

Setting: alternate / fantasy Earth

Date of publication: 1990

Hungarian edition: Michael Crichton: Őslénypark / Prehistoric Animal Park, Publisher: Maecenas Könyvkiadó, Date of publication: 1992, Translated by: Boris János,

Hungarian translation based on: Michael Chrichton: Jurassic Park, Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, Date of publication: 1990

Product type: Novel, 500+ pages, Genre: futuristic techno-thriller, Features: futuristic, thriller, techno-thriller, action, adventure

Reviewer: Kadmon, Type: Male, 40s, Preferences: Immersive, logical story, consistent setting, prefers surprises to spoilers, prefers establishing elements before referencing them

Reading: Recent (2020.01), it's not my first reading of the novel

Rating: Good (2+ out of 3 points)Enjoyment: Average (2 out of 3 points)

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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 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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The trailer of the 1993 movie adaptation of Jurassic Park
Watch the trailer on YouTube

Spoiler free review - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)

The Jurassic Park book was chosen randomly off my bookshelf for this reading. I bought the Jurassic Park novel at a time when I bought every possible sci-fi related books, and I consider it a good investment.

I've read the Hungarian edition, and while I didn't find any obvious errors in translation, my enjoyment of the prose might have been compromised by this fact.

The Jurassic Park novel is an adventure story, set in the near future on a dinosaur-based theme park, where everything goes wrong. For me it was an interesting read from the beginning to the end, although there were some problems with pacing and immersion. It has some information on dinosaurs, DNA, archeology, although there could have been a little bit more for a more informative reading, but it's hard to balance between being thrilling and informative, so I think it's okay.

The story is written in a way that the reader won't be suprised by any event, everything is shown first, then it gets reinforced. When you start reading, you already now what will happen in the end, it's just the exact details you won't be able to predict. In the Jurassic Park book, every time the characters are surprised by something, there's always a scene before that showing the reader what has happened. So the readers just has to wait to see the characters surprised, while not being surprised themselves. This is a valid way of writing, and several people prefer to read this way, I'm just not one of those who enjoy this.

The Jurassic Park novel has some problems with its scientific explanations, that I'll list in the spoilers section of my review. If you have any clue about the sciences the book involves, those explanations will detract from your experience. As Michael Crichton clearly didn't understand what he was writing about, it would have been preferable to leave the details, and focus on the adventure part of the story. He should have been sticking to dinosaurs and the adventure story in the Jurassic Park book.

Another problem with science is that the scientist and engineers are clearly clueless about their own field, as if they all graduated in the Prometheus Academy of Science. They are all careless, stupid and lazy in every possible way, or maybe even evil, trying to fail and die intentionally. Although this could be a sign of a realistic novel, but these people are supposed to be the paragons of their fields. It either shows that the author of the Jurassic Park book is stupid, or he chose to show these faults to prove a point. Knowing the works of Michael Crichton, the second seems more likely. However, this detracts from the plausibility of the story, especially as there are some rants from a scientist who tries to shine a bad light on scientist, even though he really should know better.

As this review from Thelittlereadinglamb points out, Michael Crichton's writing gives a sense to the reader as if they understand the scientific principles he tries to explain. But as Michael Crichton's understanding was far from real, this can be dangerous and misleading.

Yet another problem with the Jurassic Park book is the selective memories of the characters. They easily forget important things, they fail to tell others about those, and they act in ways to make the story more interesting, instead of acting in their best interest. For first, it was confusing me, and I've browsed back to read some parts again, but then I realised it's the author who mixes things up.

It was strange for me that while the adventure of the Jurassic Park book was thrilling, whatever interesting thing would have happened, Michael Crichton always included an additional carnivore dinosaur to the threat. After a while it was more tedious than frightening.

However, beyond all of these, Michael Crichton's writing is captivating. He is able to show us a believable character in a page or two, and that makes the novel a great reading. When I first read the Jurassic Park novel, all of the above problems didn't bother me, I enjoyed it immensely as a kid. I still recommend the Jurassic Park book for anyone who would like to read a thrilling adventure story, or like to read about dinosaurs.

My experience

I liked the Jurassic Park book when I read it first, and while I can see more problems now, I still enjoyed Jurassic Park.

Rating: Good (2+ out of 3 points). For first read, when I was a kid, I'd probably given the Jurassic Park book even a 3, but that was 30 years ago, and now I can see more problems in the book.

Enjoyment: Average (2 out of 3 points). The Jurassic Park book was a good read.

Chance of reading it again: I don't plan on reading it again soon, but the Jurassic Park book is good enough that I might read it again.

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Jurassic Park, novel by Michael Crichton (1990) - Book review by Kadmon
Jurassic Park, novel by Michael Crichton (1990) Hungarian edition - Őslénypark
image © Maecenas Kiadó

The Hungarian edition - Michael Crichton: Őslénypark, regény (1992)

The Jurassic Park book I've read was the Hungarian edition from Maecenas Kiadó. The translation of the Jurassic Park novel from Boris János seems okay, I couldn't find any obvious translation errors, although an improved translation was published later.

The artwork, printing and binding of the Jurassic Park book is okay. My copy is still in one piece after almost 30 years, although it's true that I care for my books.

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Review with spoilers - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)

Plot summary: Jurassic Park book summary / Synopsis

People get attacked and killed by small dinosaurs near Costa Rica, so an investigation starts about this. The investigation reaches Alan Grant, a dinosaur expert living in the USA. At the same time, Grant, and his assistant, Ellie Sattler gets invited to Isla Nublar, by John Hammond, one of their sponsors. During these events, we get to know that Gennaro is also sent there to take a look at the park, and decide about it's future, and Nedry is also sent there by a rival corporation to steal dinosaur eggs.

All of these people, plus Malcolm, a mathematician and Hammond's grandkids arrive at the island, to find out there's a dinosaur theme park built there, with living dinosaurs cloned from DNA remains. They start their theme park ride, when Nedry sabotages the power to be able to steal the dino eggs. Nedry tries to get away, but in the dark he turns in a wrong place, and gets killed by a dino. Due to the carelessness of design, the dinosaurs can get out, and they can't really monitor them. Those in the building try to restart the system, while those outside try to get back to the building. Grant finds out there are velociraptors on the ship that just left the island, but he can't reach the building with the radio. The T-Rex constantly attacks every character that's outside the building, until the characters reach the building. From then on it's velociraptors that constantly attack everybody.

Then Grant and the kids restore power, switch on the security systems, and every problem is solved. Then the Costa Rican government carpetbombs the island, killing the dinosaurs, and then they take every character in custody.

The setting

The Jurassic Park novel is set in the late 1980s of an alternate timeline, where computer storage and computing capacity was more advanced than in our world, that allowed the faster developments in DNA science and also the object recognition abilities of the tracking system. Beyond these points, the history and technology of the world seems identical to the real one.

Another difference seems in the rules of that universe, is that DNA doesn't disintegrate during the millions of years, like it does in our world, thus allowing the removal of DNA-fragments of dinosaurs.

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Analysis of the story - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)

The message of the story: What is the message of Jurassic Park?

Jurassic Park is a book that tries to tell us that corporations are irresponsible, and scientists are careless. While there are elements of truth in this, Crichton got the details wrong in story.

The Jurassic Park novel focuses on the problems of design - however, the designs are usually done pretty well, it's the implementation that usually adds those mistakes. Corporations spend a lot of money on creating the best possible solution, so they will try to come up with something that works. They also try to avoid spending money later on repairs, so they want to do everything right even at the start. They try to protect themselves against lawsuits, so they will follow laws and safety instructions. That is why it's not the design that is usually lazy, it's the contractors who fail to stick to those instructions, and to create higher profits out of a construction like this, cheat a little bit. They could use less concrete to create the foundations, or weaker metals to create the cages, that might be plausible. If they didn't know they are building cages for dinosaurs, they might have thought it's overkill to use that much materials for a simple zoo.

The story also says that scientist are short sighted, and neglect to care for details. It's true that they can be short sighted, but not in their own field. A biologist might not know the social effects of resurrected dinosaurs, but he'll know the effects of them on the local biosphere. I can imagine a scientist that who concentrates on creating dinosaurs, while not caring about what will happen to them. But a scientist who doesn't know what kind of effects foreign DNA might cause in the creatures is not very plausible, especially as in the story a paleonthologist has better knowledge of this than the actual scientist who designed them.

For me, most of the Jurassic Park book was not believable due to these.

Problematic elements

Many parts of the plot only exist because one of the characters were carelessly stupid, mostly to further the story of the Jurassic Park novel.

Hammond doesn't let the scientist dissect any specimen, so they don't have a clear idea about the actual biology of the creatures.

They should have monitored the health of the specimen more closer. Even if they didn't sterilise the dinosaurs by surgery (I'm almost sure Hammond wouldn't let them do it), they should have found out that some of them carried eggs, when they checked them. I'm almost sure they had to be checked daily to monitor their lysine levels, so it doesn't make sense that this was unnoticed.

When Hammond finds out that carnivorous dinosaurs escaped from the island, he should focus on investigating that, instead of inviting his grandkids, and hosting a theme ride for the scientists.

Malcolm doesn't tell the others when he finds out what are the problems with system, it takes a long time for him to finally tell them, so they can start to handle the problems. In such a dangerous situation it's pretty stupid to keep something like that from the people who can solve them.

The harbour of the island is said to be very poor. How exactly did they prepare for the guests to arrive? Unless they intend to build and maintain a proper airport (that is unlikely), the only way people could reach the island is through a ship. Also, to build such a huge complex, there must be ships constantly coming and going, building a proper harbour should have been one of the first things to do.

When they finally manage to reach the boat with the radio, they order them to turn back to the island, but they hide the fact there are velociraptors on board. This fact might have been helpful for the crew, so they would be able to defend themselves in case the raptors were attacking.

Problems with the structure of the story

One of the problems I've felt was with the structure of the book. The story starts as a scientific investigation for the hundred pages. This part won't really get referenced after this point, as everyone quickly forgets about what started these investigations. Then it switches to an adventure story, that is the main plot of the Jurassic Park novel. Then after the ending, when the protagonists get out of the island, we get a second ending (the Epilogue) that leads nowhere. The film cut the investigation and the second ending, creating a better story. It would have also worked better with the novel.

The Last Day of Creation (1981) from Wolfgang Jeschke was a similarly structured novel that also changed from a scientific investigation to an adventure that lead to nowhere, but at least the Jurassic Park gave us a story with some kind of conclusion.

Reinforcing the readers instead of surprising them

The main thing the antagonists try to achieve is to prevent the escape of dinosaurs from the island. Yet, in the second scene of the Jurassic Park novel we are already shown they have escaped and there are specimens on at least one other island. So we know from the start that no matter what will they do throughout the story, they will fail, as they have already failed when the novel starts.

When there is a blackout in the middle of the story, first we are shown the traitor who switches things off, but we are also shown in the beginning when he was hired to do that. So, from the start, the reader knows it will happen, we get to see it happen, so when the characters are taken by surprise, we already know it won't just last for a couple of minutes, and also that they won't be able to just restart the systems.

I'm not sure whether this was done intentionally in the Jurassic Park book, or whether Michael Crichton wanted to explain what happened during the events, instead of referencing them later when the characters would find it out.

Selective memories

One of my problems with the Jurassic Park book was that characters quickly forgot important things, and didn't care about then.

The whole story starts with signs that dinosaur specimen are killing people on at least one place beyond the island of Jurassic Park. When the protagonists get information about this, it raises some interest for a couple of pages, then it gets forgotten. Why don't they continue the investigation they started? Why don't they travel to that island to check those rumors? Why don't they retrieve the dino carcass that was found on the island, to make sure whether it's one of theirs or not? Finding those dinosaurs was more important than checking how comfortable is a theme park ride to the guests.

During the story the administration finds out that the dinosaurs are able to propagate, and there are 37 velociraptors instead of the 8 they though they had. Not only doesn't this get told to the hunter they send to neutralise the velociraptors, but even those administrators who were there when this got found out only plan with 8 specimen. Forgetting to tell the hunter is stupid on their part, but forgetting about the whole thing is a plot hole.

One of their problems was that the jeep that had the heavy weapons for the hunter, got lost. When the hunter gets a report from one of the workers that they've seen light from a car lamp in the jungle, he notes it to himself, yet doesn't investigate it, even though there was only one car lost, and that was the one he was looking for. It takes another report a lot later that finally makes him search the area to find the car and finally able to arm himself. The character of Muldoon, the hunter seems like a no-nonsense man to me, and acting this uncharacteristically looks like a plot hole.

The last hundred pages are set in enclosed buildings, with a security system, that is currently powered off. The characters try to switch on the power. Even though they know there will be dark until they can switch on the power, they fail to bring lights with them, causing two characters to fail. They also happen to forgot to bring their radios when it's convenient for the plot. When they manage to switch on the power, and thus the security system, they lock themselves out, because nobody thought to bring their security cards. Luckily, there are some slain people who happen to have those cards, so our characters can take one off them.

During their stay in the park, a group of characters find out there are velociraptors on the boat that leaves the island. They can't radio to the to others, so they have to reach the building to tell the people. Then they get separated. Malcolm, who was there, forgets to mention this when he is found. Only the other group seems to remember the dino on the ship, but it takes hours for them to reach the building. It would have been more believable if Malcolm wasn't there, and Grant was alone with the kids when they happened to see the ship.

When they find out that the electric fences were switched off for hours, and they also know there are holes in the fences by the T-Rex, so animals can get out, there are still people who just take a stroll in the park, and Hammond even dies due to this. The man just saw his park fall in the most disastrous manner, there are plenty of things to do, one of them probably getting his grandkids to safety, yet he wanders off at the first opportunity to get killed.

Lack of security

They have designed the enclosed sections with fences that can be easily torn by the inhabitants, and supposedly even fallen trees, and that means for me that even if the dinosaurs wouldn't intentionally try to break free, if they fall on the fences, they would just give way. This is not only careless, the problem with this would have been found out in a couple of weeks, due to animals accidentally bumping into the fences, or after the first storm. The security seems to be improved compared to the original designs - they have reinforced the visitor center, so I'd assume they took the security seriously enough to spend some effort so that it would be efficient enough to keep the animals in their own places.

It's not entirely clear to me how they kept those animals, because even when they didn't break out of the cages, Nedry gets attacked by a dinosaur, then gets eaten by another kind of dinosaur, while the later reports only find holes in the T-Rex fence and the sauropod fence.

The aviary that has human-sized flying dinosaurs, has such a large opening where the river enters that a boat can fit with some people on it. That means that the flying dinosaurs could have a clear way out of their area. They are either very well-behaving dinosaurs there, or they get out of their "cage" almost instantly.

The security doors in the main building are designed in a way that they let anyone in when the power is off. Security doors are normally created differently - they stay closed when the power is off, otherwise anyone trying to break in would just cut the wires, and the door would open.

The maintenance buildings inside the enclosed sections have fence poles with wide enough openings that an adult man could fit through. That means a lot of smaller dinosaurs, especially juvenile ones could just enter the area. Such a fence is not a very useful protection if you want to keep animals out.

The dinosaur tracker

According to the Jurassic Park novel, the tracker in the Jurassic Park works in two steps. The first is a motion sensor system that covers 80% of the island, that finds objects that move in their area. The second sensor system then tries to identify that object, and compares it to its database of dinosaurs. If the moving object has enough correct identifiers than it is identified as one of the dinosaurs, it gets counted as one of the species, otherwise the signal is dismissed. One of the plot points is that you need to give the number of signs the system searches for manually, and every time they give the number of dinosaurs they expect to find out there (238).

No matter how many times they try, when they give the the same number of dinosaurs they think that is the maximum there should be, they always get the same numbers for the species they are counting. However, as we get to know later, when they give a higher number, a lot more dinosaurs are found. This is a mistake on the authors part. Using the algorithm we were told, the system would start to find objects that could be dinosaurs. As there are a lot more than the number it searches for, it's likely that it won't be able to find the same specimens every time. That means it will find different specimens, that means different sums of the specific species. Basically every time they are searching for dinosaurs the numbers for the species should fluctuate.

They would also like to use this system to find the people out there in the park. However, as it only counts dinosaurs, and dismiss anything else, humans would never show up in the system. And even if they would show up, for this they would need to enter a higher number to search for, and if they had done so previously, the higher number of dinosaurs would have been found out immediately.

Also, as it only tries to identify moving objects, I'd imagine a lot of times they wouldn't find several animals that are resting. As only 80% of the island falls under the sensors, it also means there are plenty of animals that wouldn't be found because they are unreachable spots. For example when Harding, the doctor was treating the stegosaurus, the animal wouldn't register in the dinosaur count because it's not moving. Yet, the novel shows us the system also counts the animal, instead of showing any other dinosaur it could find.

The height distribution of the compis

One of the plot points of the Jurassic Park book is when they ask the computer about the height distribution of one of the species, it gives a bell curve (the smallest one is 27 cm, the highest is 40, with 33,5 cm being the average). As we got to know, that specific species had three batches of eggs hatched, and they were released in three waves. Malcolm retaliates that this shows that the dinosaurs are breeding, otherwise there would be three hills of increasing size on the graph, due to their release dates, with the oldest being 37,5 cm high, while the youngest 27,5, with 33 cm for the middle batch.

This is not how height works. Malcolm seems to think height is only based on the age of a dinosaur, but there are also genetics involved. To make it easier to understand, let's start a thought experiment. We breed humans, and they are born in 3 waves. We let the first batch out, than 5 years later the second batch, then another 5 years later the third batch. We check back 20 years later to measure their heights. Michael Crichton suggests that the 30 year old batch would be 200 cm at average, the 25 year olds are 185, and the 20 year olds would be 170. But in reality, we are going to get a bell curve, because by the age of 20, our heights are mostly final. The bell curve would start at 150, goes to 200, with an average of 170. So, that graph really depends on how quickly those creatures grow to their full size. (We could account the stress on the character for the high numbers on his graph, because if 33,5 really is the average for their height, a 27,5 / 31,5 / 34,5 average for the 3 batches would be more realistic.)

However, a breeding population wouldn't give a proper bell curve - it is similar, but it would start with a long tail on the left. The height would start at 50 cm, because newborns would be just that small, and it would grow from 50 cm to the average of 170, then it would start to quickly decline until 200 cm. A bell curve would mean there are just as many 50 cm high newborns in the population as there are 200 cm high people. If the computer had shown an graph like that, it would have been really easy to realise even for the uninitiated that there are some newborn compi chicks in the park.

(As a side note: The computer graph in the book shows us there are 0 compis who are 26 cm or 41 cm high, although I fail to understand the importance of this. There is a half compi that is 27 cm high, and another half dinosaur that is 40 cm. And there are some more numbers on the graph that are not integers, and that looks kind of scary. They are probably partially eaten or decomposed. I't a nice touch that the graph shows around 65 full animals and 2 partial ones, that's an early warning for their increased numbers, instead of the expected 49.)

(Another side note: Because of the anatomy of the compi, it would be hard to measure its height, unless they get caught periodically to get measured. But the Jurassic Park novel implies that the measurements are done live by the computer, using the dinosaur tracker system. The length of their skull would be a feature that could get easily measured, but it would be hard to tell the height of the dinosaur from that.)

Dinosaurs as threat

It was strange for me that whatever happened in the 2/3 of the Jurassic Park novel that involved some kinf of danger, there was a T-Rex. Every time a character tried to do something, the T-Rex happened to be there. Even if there was some kind of natural danger, the T-Rex was included. When the characters are falling through a waterfall, it would have been enough, but no, the author also included the T-Rex waiting for them at the bottom. It would have been okay (although not very plausible), if the T-Rex would have followed one set of characters, but it looks like the T-Rex just hops from one point of action to another.

After that 2/3 point, the threatening dinosaur part switches to the velociraptors, and the T-Rex won't get any more mention. However, every time a characters tries to achieve anything (switch on a generator, cook some food, find security access cards), there is a velociraptor. Those raptors also have a sense that tells them the story switches from one viewpoint character to another, because they keep running from one place to another, just to reach it by the time the next scene begins. After a while you lose interest, because you already know they will be there when someone opens a door.

However, when they switch on the security system, even the velociraptors become tame, without any explanation. There are holes in the fences, so they could just go through them, and they were not killed, only 4 out of 37. Yet, they just stop attacking people. This gets stranger when Grant and two other characters climb into a velociraptor nest, there are adult raptors and a lot of kids, but none of them bothers to even try to scare the intruders away. (Update: I've read a theory that happens because they were born in the wild, and didn't get to know humans, unlike the ones born in captivity, but I find it unlikely they would just let strangers into their nest, because they don't have any experience with them. On the contrary, I'd assume they would try to stop those strangers instead of welcoming them.)

Scientific problems

These are only problems when we think that Jurassic Park novel is set in our world. However, if it's set in an alternate universe, it should have been told or shown us by Michael Crichton somewhere in the novel.

DNA doesn't last multiple millions of years: At the time of the writing of the novel, scientists believed they might retrieve dinosaur DNA from ancient samples. Since then, we know that the DNA deteriorates in a rate that nothing remains after a couple hundred thousands of years. The samples recovered from Jurassic remains were found out to be modern contaminations. Also, DNA remains that were already digested by the insects would have been eroded further.

Chaos theory: The novel includes chaos theory as an explanation for the happenings of the story. However, I'm almost sure that the author didn't really understand what chaos theory means. It looks to me that he implies that any sufficiently large system will become uncontrollable due to unexpected events that will lead to its inevitable fall. On the other hand, the "chaos" in chaos theory only refers to the unexpected results when there is a possibility of steering away from the expectations. For example you cannot see where will those dinosaurs wander in an hour of time in their enclosed section of the island, however you can be pretty sure that they will remain somewhere in their own section. The chaos is not a bad thing, it doesn't cause damage, it doesn't make things worse - events are just chaotic in a way that you can't be exactly sure what will happen next, but you can still have a pretty good idea. Chaos is not an outside force that will interact with systems to create havoc - it's already here in every system, and engineers and scientist are well aware of it.

Unanswered questions


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Possibilities of improvement

Let they design DNA instead of retrieving it: As we know now that it is impossible to retrieve ancient DNA, the plot should be built around designing creatures that look like dinosaurs from scratch. For this, they could use current bird and reptile DNA.

Cutting the prologue: It makes it look like we'll get some kind of official investigation report of the InGen case, yet we won't. This makes the prologue of the Jurassic Park novel unnecessary.

Cutting the investigation: While it was interesting, it didn't lead anywhere, and when we got to the real story, everybody forgot about the events that lead there. The character introductions could be moved into the parts where the plane takes them onto the island. If the characters wouldn't know there are already escaped dinosaurs on the other islands, their actions would have been more justified.

Cutting the ride in the park: Isaac Cabe's idea is that by the time the scientists arrive on the plane, the dinosaurs are already out. When they land, they are attacked immediately, so they spread out to be able to survive. Then the original story could proceed. This way the tension of "what will go wrong" would be gone, but it might be balanced by the tension of "who will survive?" The whole premise of the novel is that something will go wrong, so the reader is not surprised by the fact that the dinosaurs get out of their cages. Also, this way we could be introduced to elements of the park that are important. For example, when they talk about the tracking of dinosaurs, it's just boring exposition. If they are already out, and there are characters that are in danger, and that's why they want to switch on the tracker, and talk about how it works, the reader will pay more attention.

Also, the scientists working on the park, and Hammond, the owner, seem to be intelligent and reasonable people in the introductions, but during the park ride they start to act like they are stupid, then switch to unreasonable during the dinosaur attacks. If the introductions are cut, their acts reinforce the reader that the whole park was designed by stupid people, that's why everything is failing around them. And if the action is already on from the start, the reader won't have time to wonder about the inconsistencies of science and logic.

For this to work, Nedry should be already on the island, and he'd choose a time just before the inspection from Hammond would occur. As far as Nedry knows, the people Hammond invited to the island might uncover his plan, so he really needs to hurry.

On the other hand, this would leave the story without the wonder of experiencing the Jurassic Park for a while, as it was planned to work, before the rampage of the creatures.

Cutting the references to chaos theory: While it was nice to get a primer on chaos theory on the pages of the Jurassic Park novel, they are so irrelevant to the story, that I feel it detracts to the overall enjoyment. If you'd edit the references to be true to the real chaos theory, they won't fit into the explanations anyway.

Changing how the dinosaurs got out: It's very improbable that someone would hope that a wire fence would hold a T-Rex or other dinosaur from escaping. There should be solid columns of steel that would keep them in. So, there should be an alternative way for the T-Rex and the velociraptors to escape, as basically they are the only ones who get out. We already see that velociraptors tunneled under the fences - that's a good unexpected way to get them out of their own area. Getting the T-Rex out is more problematic, for that, there must be something that would create a bridge above the fence, or something that would leave the door of their cage open. Or it might be caused by the construction contractors trying to use weaker materials than it was planned.

Changing the scene where Grant sees the dinosaurs on the ship: Let this happen later in the story, when only Grant and the kids are there. As Malcolm is also there in the original, it's strange that he keeps this knowledge to himself.

Cutting the rants of Ian Malcolm at the end of the novel: First, they are included between tense action scenes that should not be paused for long monologues. Second, they are mostly wrong in every possible way, especially as they are told by a mathematician who should know what he is talking about.

Changing or cutting Ian Malcolm from the novel: While he was a fan favourite in the Jurassic Park movie, if you cut the chaos theory and his delirious rants at the end, there's no need for Ian Malcolm in the story. He doesn't do anything in the current form of the novel beyond these. However, I could imagine a total rewrite of the character, creating a someone who could help to find the bugs in the system when Nerdy shuts it down.

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How does it compare to the other works of the author?

I think Michael Crichton's other books are similar in quality. I've felt his earlier works (The Terminal Man and Andromeda Strain) a bit slower, but Jurassic Park is a novel that is comparable to his later works.

How does it compare to the other novels in the series?

I haven't read the sequel of the Jurassic Park book yet.

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In defence of the Jurassic Park novel

There are some complaints in the reviews of the Jurassic Park book that I didn't find that much of a problem:

Why "Jurassic Park"? Most of the dinosaurs were from different time periods!: Yes, it's true, but Jurassic Park sounds good, and the name was for marketing purposes. Also, the Mesozoic Park or Cretaceous Park might have been already trademarked by someone else. Dinosaur Park would be probably fine too.

Why didn't they use X technology when they clearly more advanced than the 1980s of our time?: Let's assume the only advancement was in the field of computers and DNA-research.

Why didn't they use X technology that was already available in our own 1980s?: We can't know what kind of technology was available in their alternate timeline, so let's assume they used every available piece of technology their universe allowed, as the scientists were the top of their fields, and the company spared no expense on them

Why are the velociraptors so big when they are turkey sized in reality?: That was a creative decision on Michael Crichton's part. If this bothers you, get an e-book copy of the Jurassic Park novel, change every reference to "velociraptor" to "deinonychus", "raptor" to "deino", "lo sa raptor" to "dio no nico" (or something like that), and try to imagine some substitute scene for the "raptor dictionary search" scene with dio or nico.

Why don't the velociraptors have feathers?: First, at the time of writing, it was not entirely clear that dinosaurs would have feathers. Second, these creatures are genetic creations, not the real ones. If the scientists design them without feathers, it might be because people expect them to be seen without feathers. Also, they mixed various ambhibian and reptilian DNA into them, that might make them this bald.

It is impossible to retrieve dinosaur DNA from mosquitos kept in amber!: Yes, that is true, but at the time of writing the Jurassic Park novel, this was not known. Let's assume Jurassic Park is set in an alternate world, where it's possible to do that.

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Uses for the novel - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)


  • Scientists are able to recreate creatures from the past.
  • A corporation creates an amusement park,
    • but an insider sabotages the security
    • but they've spared money on the design of the security



Scenario ideas - Role-playing game scenario ideas

  • The characters are tasked with the design of the security of an amusement park that will contain potentially dangerous elements (dinosaurs, aliens, killer robots).
  • The characters are tasked with the testing of the security of a facility. They have to find if there's a way to get in or get out.
  • The characters are tasked with stealing something from a facility that has dangerous elements (dinosaurs, aliens, killer robots). Unknown to them, when they switch off the security to get the goods, they also release these dangerous elements.

Scenario ideas - Wargame scenario ideas

  • The attacker wants to reach an objective. The defender sets up the playing area (their base), that has closed off areas, with closed doors, and sets up the objective. The defender sets up their forces anywhere on the playing area, except in the closed off areas. The attacker enters at the edge of the playing area. When they activate the objective, it causes the closed off areas to open up, releasing dangerous creatures (dinosaurs, aliens, killer robots), that attack anyone randomly. The attacker wins if they activate the objective, and more than half of the team gets out. The defender wins if the attacker is unable to activate the objective. It's a draw if the objective is activated, but more than half of the attacking team is killed.
    • Harder for the attacker: The objective must be stolen. One model needs to haul it out of the playing area.

Miniatures - 1/50-1/60 (28-32mm scale)

Civilians: Human-sized contemporary human civilians.

Dinosaurs: Human-sized / large / giant dinosaurs. Just use dinosaurs from your toy collection.

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Similar stories - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)

Short stories like Jurassic Park


Novels like Jurassic Park

Matthew Reilly: The Great Zoo of China (2014): There's an amusement park (living dragons), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction, allowing the dangerous inhabitants (dragons) to break free, and start killing people.

Michael Crichton: The Lost World (1995): Sequel to this novel.

John Brosnan (as Harry Adam Knight): Carnosaur (1984): A scientist recreates dinosaurs from DNA fragments. They break free, and start to kill people.

Graphic novels like Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park (Topps, 1993): There's an amusement park (dinosaurs recreated from DNA fragments), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction (due to insider sabotage), allowing the dangerous inhabitants (dinosaurs) to break free, and start killing people. Adaptation of the Jurassic Park movie.

Jurassic Park (Kodansha, 1993): There's an amusement park (dinosaurs recreated from DNA fragments), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction (due to insider sabotage), allowing the dangerous inhabitants (dinosaurs) to break free, and start killing people. Manga adaptation of the Jurassic Park movie.

Robocop #7: Robosaur (Marvel Comics, 1990): There's an amusement park (dinosaurs), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction (due to insider sabotage), allowing the dangerous inhabitants (dinosaurs) to break free, and start killing people.

Movies like Jurassic Park

Carnosaur (1993): A scientist recreates dinosaurs from DNA fragments. They break free, and start to kill people. Adaptation of the Carnosaur novel.

Jurassic Park (1993): There's an amusement park (dinosaurs recreated from DNA fragments), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction (due to insider sabotage), allowing the dangerous inhabitants (dinosaurs) to break free, and start killing people. Adaptation of the Jurassic Park novel.

Jurassic World (2015): There's an amusement park (dinosaurs recreated from DNA fragments), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction, allowing the dangerous inhabitants (dinosaurs) to break free, and start killing people. Soft reboot of the Jurassic Park film series. Based on the Jurassic Park novel.

Westworld (1973): There's an amusement park (human-like robots), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction, allowing the dangerous inhabitants (robots) to break free, and start killing people.

TV series & episodes like Jurassic Park

Westworld (TV Series 2016-2020-): There's an amusement park (human-like robots), that unexpectedly begins to malfunction (due to insider sabotage), allowing the dangerous inhabitants (robots) to break free, and start killing people.

Computer games like Jurassic Park


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Questions - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)

Who is the author of the Jurassic books?

The author of the original Jurassic Park books is Michael Crichton.

How does the Jurassic Park book end?

The Jurassic Park book ends with the survivors taken to a Costa Rican hotel to remain there as "guests" for an undetermined time.

Is Jurassic Park possible?

Jurassic Park, as a theme park with genetically designed dinosaur lookalikes is possible, although we are still far away from that. However, as already pointed out in this article, it's impossible to recreate dinosaurs with DNA found in fossils.

Did Jurassic Park ever open?

Nope. The events of the Jurassic Park novel show a test-run of the park. It didn't end well, so the park never opens.

Why did Jurassic Park fail?

The Jurassic Park project failed due to design errors that would have been easy to avoid. Although it was supposed to be designed by the best of the best, the author made sure they put enough errors into the park to make an interesting novel.

Was Jurassic Park doomed to fail from the start?

Jurassic Park was doomed to fail as intended by the author. There were so many design errors that it would have failed even if it wasn't sabotaged by one of the designers. Actually, it is suprising that it didn't fail earlier, long before the protagonists travelled there to test the site.

How many Jurassic Park books are there?

There are two Jurassic Park novels written by Michael Crichton. However, there are multiple books written by other authors for the Jurassic Park franchise.

What is the best Jurassic Park book?

That's a good question, especially as I haven't read all of them yet. However, Jurassic Park is probably is in the Top 2 of that list.

Is the Jurassic Park book age appropriate? / Is the book suitable for kids?

Indeed it is, Jurassic Park is probably appropriate for a 10-12 year old child, especially if that child already read some other horror stories. There are plenty of gruesome death scenes, so keep that in mind.

If your child has seen the Jurassic Park film, and that's why they want to read the book, you have to be aware that the novel is more violent and frightening. It also has a dim worldview, teaching the kids not to trust adults and people of science.

Is the Jurassic Park book the same as the movie?

No. While the basic premise of the Jurassic Park movie is the same, there are many differences from the Jurassic Park book. For further information, I recommend the Comparison of Jurassic Park book and Jurassic Park movie section of the Resources.

Is the Jurassic Park book better than the movie?

They are certainly different. I like both the Jurassic Park novel and the Jurassic Park film. The movie is better suited for kids.

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Resources - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)


WikiPedia: Jurassic Park (novel)

Jurassic Park Wiki: Jurassic Park

Audio books - Jurassic Park audio books based on the Jurassic Park novel

I'm not entirely sure about the legality of these.

version 1: read by William Roberts, 13.29 hours long

version 2: read by John Heard, abridged version, 2.49 hours long, the background music and sound can be distracting

Audio books in German - Jurassic Park audio books based on the Jurassic Park novel

version 1: 16.17 hours long

Reviews with no spoilers - Jurassic Park novel

Betsy (for Redeemed Reader): Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: Review article, with no spoilers. Includes Christian views of the novel.

Cody (for Kobra Editing): Jurassic Park - Book Review: Review video of the Jurassic Park book, with no spoilers.

EddieReviews: JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton || Book Review: Review video, with no spoilers.

MagicOfBooks: Book Review: Jurassic Park & The Lost World by Michael Crichton: Review video of the Jurassic Park book, with no spoilers.

Mystic the AllWing: Jurassic Park and The Lost World book review: Review video, with no spoilers.

Ruptured Quill: Book Review | Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: Review video, with no spoilers.

Thelittlereadinglamb: Book Review: Jurassic Park By: Michael Crichton: Review video, with no spoilers.

Reviews with spoilers - Jurassic Park novel

chekherjoy: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton ~book review: Review video, with spoilers.

C J Campbell: BOOK REVIEW,JURASSIC PARK, MICHAEL CRICHTON: Review video of the Jurassic Park book, with spoilers. He lists some differences between the novel and the film.

David Popovich: Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1): BOOKWORM REVIEW: Review video, with spoilers. Includes a plot summary, and lists some differences between the novel and the film.§

Durbania: Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park Book Review SPOILERS: Review video of the Jurassic Park book, with spoilers.

JurassicCollectables: Jurassic Park - The Novel Review: Review video, with spoilers.

Kat Berwick (on Fantasy Book Review): Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: Review article of the Jurassic Park book, with very minor spoilers.

Klayton Fioriti: An Analysis of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - Novel Review: Review video, with spoilers.

Kirkus Review: Jurassic Park: Review article of the Jurassic Park book, with very minor spoilers.

Melissa Rojas (for The Sundial): Book Review: Jurassic Park: Review article, with very minor spoilers.

Michael Gleason (for BlackScarabFilmZ): The Literary Lair: Jurassic Park: Review video of the Jurassic Park book, with spoilers. It includes a plot summary.

MrTTenor: Jurassic Park Book Review: Review video, with very minor spoilers.

The Geodude: Geodude: Jurassic Park Book Pt. 1: Review video of the Jurassic Park book, with spoilers.

The Horror Show: "Jurassic Park" 1990 Michael Crichton Dinosaur Book Review - The Horror Show: Review video, with spoilers.

Tiny Book Dragon: Jurassic Park | Book Review: Review video of the Jurassic Park book, with no spoilers for the first 2 minutes.

Reviews in Italian - Jurassic Park novel

La Pin Up dei Libri: BOOK REVIEW: JURASSIC PARK (in Italian): Review video of the Jurassic Park book, in Italian.

Analysis - Jurassic Park novel

Isaac Cabe (for Cracked): 'Jurassic Park' Would Be More Dope With One Change: Analysis article, proposing a possibly better version of the story by letting the animals out by the time the scientists arrive.§

Matthew Haynes (for Quora): What is the true meaning of Jurassic park?: Analysis article about the message of the Jurassic Park book.

Analysis - Comparison of Jurassic Park book and Jurassic Park movie

Ashley (on Don't Have a Degree in Reading): 2016 | Book VS Adaptation : JURASSIC PARK: Video, analysing the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the Jurassic Park movie.

CineFix: Jurassic Park - What’s the Difference?: Video, analysing the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the Jurassic Park movie.

howlsreadingcastle: MOVIE VS BOOK *SPOILERS* | Jurassic Park: Video, analysing the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the Jurassic Park movie.

Mike Grayson: Movie vs Book: Jurassic Park: Video, analysing the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the Jurassic Park movie.

pathbooks: Jurassic Park - BOOK vs MOVIE: Short video, listing the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the Jurassic Park movie.

Thomas Kerins: Jurassic Park Book Review /BOOK BETTER ?: Video, analysing the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the Jurassic Park movie.

Tiffany Rye: Jurassic Park Novel to Movie Comparison: Video, analysing the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the Jurassic Park movie.

* * *

Buying the product - Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park, novel (1990)

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Have you read the Jurassic Park novel from Michael Crichton? How do you like the book? Would you recommend it to others? Do you know reviews or resources you'd like to add? What further thoughts do you have about it? Tell your opinion in the comments!


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