We all know the films, and with Jurassic World being one of the highest selling movies of 2015, the franchise has successfully reinstated itself. But it all began with Michael Chrichton’s novel, Jurassic Park. Many people have only seen the movies and have no regard for the book, some have seen the movies and want to read the book, and some have read the book and have avoided the movies (but there are a very select few in that category).
First of all, Jurassic Park the book and Jurassic Park the movie are two completely different things, and they should be treated as such. If you have already read the book and don’t want to cloud that image by watching the movie, don’t worry; they are far different. If you have watched the movie and want to read the book but think maybe it will be too similar and no fun, well, once again, it is very different. The only similarities are basic location names and character names. Everything else must be treated as separate things: Jurassic Park the book and Jurassic Park the movie are TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SOULS.
So let’s talk about the book. There are many elements in the novel that are spread about the first three movies in the franchise. The little girl at the beginning of The Lost World movie is in the first book. The waterfall scene from the second movie is in the first book. The spinosaurus and tyrannosaurus fight from the third movie is in the first book, along with the bird cage. The characters from movie two are nonexistent in the book, just the implication of where they may have gotten the ideas for the events in later movies. In Jurassic Park, a little girl and her family are visiting Costa Rica, where a compsognathus appeared and attacked her. This dinosaur finding lead to many questions about what’s going on at Isla Nublar. The iconic waterfall scene in The Lost World is Alan and the kids in the book, the long tongue trying to lick Lex. Instead of a spinosaurus, there are two tyrannosaurs on the island, a smaller one and a larger one, and there is a point where they seemingly face off. There is also a bird cage under construction that brings familiar images to those who have seen the third movie. Also, as a child, I was always disappointed that Jurassic Park the movie never had stegosauruses. Turns out, the sick dinosaur they find (triceratops in the movie) is actually a stegosaurus originally!
Some things about the text itself: I thought the layout was interesting. The novel starts with an introduction to the genetics war and the various genetics companies controlling that market at the time. That made me feel like it was some kind of current event, and the book ended up being more like a giant genetics incident report to me, which actually made it very interesting to read it that way. There is also a dinosaur tracking system that they use on the island, flawed as a lot of technology often is. Once they find the actual counts of the dinosaurs on the island, they begin to try and figure out what happened. The problem with this aspect of the book is that the characters don’t seem worried about any of this at all. They just sort of brush it off as a malfunction, which is an unrealistic reaction. When the tyrannosaur chases them, the action is actually not that exciting, which was a disappointment.
Lex and Tim are almost opposite of their movie counterparts. Lex is the wuss and Tim is the smart one who isn’t afraid, which gave a very different feel of the characters. Also, John Hammond is very, well, senile and old. He’s like a child whose dream has come true and he wants to share that dream with the children of the world. Even after multiple deaths, Hammond is concerned about the animals and concerned that they all get back to their regions before the park actually opens, at which point everyone around him points out that the park will most likely not be opening after this.
PLEASE SKIP THIS PART IF YOU ARE GOING TO READ THE BOOK, but John Hammond does not make it to The Lost World. In fact, his dinosaur dream takes him down as he gets eaten by a bunch of compy’s. A very different end for him. Many other characters that appear in later movies do not make it through the first novel.
So should you read the novel? Jurassic Park is well written and should be treated as separate from the movie franchise. In order to make it through the text, the reader must have a love of both genetic sciences and dinosaurs. The book can be hard to read if there is not some interest in genetics. Otherwise, if you are a die-hard fan of the movies, then the answer is YES you should definitely read this book to get the original story, to see the science and math and complications that go into a theme park that the movie couldn’t quite fit in.
A note on Jurassic World: I loved the new movie and thought it was a great reboot to the franchise. The ideas in a functioning park are all fresh and new, and Jurassic World is the only movie in the franchise that did not have any flashing images to the original novel of Jurassic Park.