So. Much. Fun.
Saying that about a book where more than half the characters get eaten by prehistoric predators brought back to life through genetic engineering might seem weird. But then, I have never kept my love for dinosaurs a secret!
When I first received the book from Online Books Outlet, I wasn’t expecting much from it. However, a cursory glance later, I had spotted graphs in it. They intrigued the scientist in me and I knew that I wouldn’t be waiting too long to read it.
Wanting to know if the book had inspired the movie or if it was the other way round, I looked up the date of publication of the book to compare it with the movie release and found out they were both released in the same year. While searching, I came across 20 Things You Might Have Not Known About Jurassic Park on Mentalfloss. Inserting the text from that article below:
Spielberg found out about Jurassic Park while working on ER.
When director Steven Spielberg and author Michael Crichton were working on a screenplay that would eventually become the television series ER, Spielberg asked the writer about the plans for his next book. Crichton told him about Jurassic Park, and Spielberg immediately tapped Universal to buy the film rights in May 1990—before the book was even published. He was so excited that he began storyboarding scenes from the book, even though there was no screenplay written yet.
Mystery solved, I started reading the book. There are quite a few differences between the book and the movie as this article, Jurassic Park: The Book and the Movie’s Differences, will tell you. Comparing the two made me realize that those changes had made for a more entertaining movie!
But the book wasn’t any less fun. Here are some quotes that I marked to share:
Dr. Ellie Sattler who was a paleobotanist and one of my favorite characters from the book. She was gutsy and didn’t take any shit from anybody.
From the cartoon
that was never made
When Ellie shook hands, Gennaro said in surprise, “You’re a woman.”
“These things happen,” she said
A cuter version by Liara K. Crane
And I loved how passionate she was about plants. I’d still have loved a bit more detail regarding prehistoric flora. If I remember correctly, there was some bit about a protocarpus tree and the fern, Serenna veriformans.
People were so naïve about plants, Ellie thought. They just chose plants for appearance, as they would choose a picture for the wall. It never occurred to them that plants were actually living things, busily performing all the living functions of respiration, ingestion, excretion, reproduction—and defense.
Dr. Alan Grant, my other favorite from the book. Unlike the guy from the movie, this Grant liked kids. I still loved how natural it seemed to him to take it on himself to save the kids. They weren’t his responsibility, yet he didn’t think twice before saving their lives.
Grant liked kids—it was impossible not to like any group so openly enthusiastic about dinosaurs… Grant also suspected that was why even young children learned the names of dinosaurs. It never failed to amaze him when a three-year-old shrieked: “Stegosaurus!”
Dr. Ian Malcolm was much less fun in the book than in the movie. He was long winded and had a lot to say, which often got boring.
This is how he was described in the book:
And finally, as if to emphasize their emergence from academia into the world, they dressed and spoke with what one senior mathematician called “a deplorable excess of personality.” In fact, they often behaved like rock stars.
Tim was actually the older sibling in the book.
His love for dinosaurs is evident from this scene from the book:
His father had looked at a skeleton and said, “That’s a big one.”
Tim had said, “No, Dad, that’s a medium-size one, a camptosaurus.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Looks pretty big to me.”
“It’s not even full-grown, Dad.”
His father squinted at the skeleton. “What is it, Jurassic?”
“Jeez. No. Cretaceous.”
“Cretaceous? What’s the difference between Cretaceous and Jurassic?”
“Only about a hundred million years,” Tim said.
“Cretaceous is older?”
“No, Dad, Jurassic is older.”
“Well,” his father said, stepping back, “it looks pretty damn big to me.”
There were some sciency bits that I really loved. Here are some of my very favorite ones:
“Actually, dinosaur DNA is somewhat easier to extract by this process than mammalian DNA. The reason is that mammalian red cells have no nuclei, and thus no DNA in their red cells. To clone a mammal, you must find a white cell, which is much rarer than red cells. But dinosaurs had nucleated red cells, as do modern birds. It is one of the many indications we have that dinosaurs aren’t really reptiles at all. They are big leathery birds.”
“Reptile eggs contain large amounts of yolk but no water at all. The embryos must extract water from the surrounding environment.”
“Many birds and crocodiles swallowed small stones, which collected in a muscular pouch in the digestive tract, called the gizzard. Squeezed by the muscles of the gizzard, the stones helped crush tough plant food before it reached the stomach, and thus aided digestion. Some scientists thought dinosaurs also had gizzard stones.”
You can see the amount of research that the author has put into the book and I enjoyed it immensely!
Another thing that I loved about this book was how nature — and dinosaurs — found ways around Wu’s precautionary measures. This:
“We don’t want them to survive in the wild. So I’ve made them lysine dependent. I inserted a gene that makes a single faulty enzyme in protein metabolism. As a result, the animals cannot manufacture the amino acid lysine.”
was countered by escaped velociraptors feeding on lysine-rich sources i.e. agama beans soy, and chickens.
Then, there was:
“All the animals in Jurassic Park are female,” Wu said, with a pleased smile.”
Which the dinos took care of through gender transition. I mean, how smart are they?!
Okay then, I will stop sounding so surprised!
By the way, the kitchen scene was as scary in the book as it had been in the movie!
I am going to end this review with a different version of Jurassic Park i.e. one that includes kittens!