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review 2017-06-21 23:41
A battle for bones…that's rich in old west history…
Dragon Teeth - Michael Crichton


Book Title:  Dragon Teeth

Author:  Michael Crichton

Narration:  Scott Brick w/ Sherri Crichton

Series:  Stand-Alone

Genre:  Adventure, Western

Setting:  Old West, Late 1800's

Source:  Audiobook (Library)




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Book Theme Song

(this link will take you to my tumblr post with video)

Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi  --This lyric video with it's majestic backdrop is the biggest reason I picked this song…but the lyrics are not too far off either.  Especially since Johnson is thought to be dead by many and even put in jail on a couple of occasions…I think.♫









My Thoughts


If you're looking for a book that might be considered a prequel to Jurassic Park, than, yeah, this isn't that.  This is a western.  A western that's interspersed with actual history mixed with some fictional history.   With a sprinkling of how paleontology came to be.  

Based on actual early paleontologists Edwin Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, the story itself centers on a fictional guy named William Johnson.  There's also appearances by some famous dudes too, like Wyatt Earp and his brother Morgan.  With a backdrop of such iconic western towns like Cheyenne, Laramie, Deadwood,  and even The Badlands; I could not find myself disappointed in Dragon Teeth.




Ratings Breakdown


Plot:  4.2/5

Main Characters:  3.8/5

Secondary Characters:  3.8/5

The Feels:  3.7/5

Addictiveness:  3.8/5

Theme or Tone:  4/5

Flow (Writing Style):  4.5/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4.2/5

Originality:  5/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Narration:  4/5

Ending:  4/5 Cliffhanger:  Nope!


Will I read more from this Author?  Who am I kidding, if they unearth something else…I probably will.


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review 2017-05-23 18:30
Review: Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
Dragon Teeth - Michael Crichton

Dragon Teeth is a wonderful historical fiction set in the old West during the time of the infamous Bones Wars; a time when two great paleontologists raced to uncover and collect the most impressive dinosaur discoveries. Released almost ten years after the author’s death, Dragon Teeth has the feel of a genuine Crichton story. I don’t know how much of the book was edited and filled in by a ghost-writer, but it was done very much in the vein of his body of works.


The story follows Yale freshman William Johnson, who decides to worm his way into Professor Marsh’s government-funded expedition to dig for fossils. Why would this carefree and somewhat reckless young man take on such a dangerous journey in a time when tensions are high between the white settlers and Native Indians? Because of a bet. Yep… a bet that changed his entire life.  


Professor Marsh is a highly suspicious, nearly mad man who assumes the poor, naïve Johnson is a spy for his adversary, Cope. This leads Marsh to abandon Johnson in Cheyanne. So when Professor Cope shows up and offers Johnson a spot with his crew, he feels he has little choice. And although they are forbidden to head out from Fort Benton, Cope and crew slip out to dig bones. 


The story follows Johnson has he experiences firsthand how difficult life in the West was during the late 1800’s. Yet Johnson finds a way to persevere, developing an unhealthy fixation on protecting the dinosaur bones in his care. I empathized with poor Johnson, who is naïve and in way over his head. He's an unknowing pawn that could be crushed in the race for supremacy between two Barons of Bones. His demeanor and the situations he’s placed in created an emotional tie to his character, keeping me invested in his entire story from beginning to end.


Dragon Teeth is a highly interesting and engrossing tale. I have always loved Crichton's matter-of-fact writing style, and I can't distinguish between fact and fiction. It's a gripping way to tell a story. Crichton also adds details that make the scenes pop and come to life. The story is that of a young man’s rough journey to becoming his own man. He had a summer that changed him, and hopefully his life will be richer for it. The book is all about the journey, and I enjoyed going along for the ride. 


My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot

Review copy provided by Edelweiss

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-19 05:34
The Lost World
The Lost World: A Novel (Audio) - Michael Crichton,Scott Brick

Sequel to Jurassic Park. This audio version is also narrated by Scott Brick. Despite being streamed across Overdrive courtesy of the library, it was still broken up into CD sections and announced the change of CDs and repeated the last line of the previous CD section before continuing with the narration - overall, distracting.


I admittedly listened to this mostly while lying in my sick bed and didn't pay it the same close attention as I did the first one. I'm not sure if Scott Brick's individual character voices were less distinct in this adaptation or if I was not aware enough to pick out the subtle differences. As I am already biased in favor of the story, I only mentally docked a half star for the (perceived) performance.


One thing that occurs to me about the story in general though: is Sarah's father actually the vet, Dr. Harding, in the original Jurassic Park? And, if so, WTF, Malcolm? That one, seemingly inconsequential, teasing hint is still bugging me. Plot holes, plot holes...

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-12-26 06:53
Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park is Actually Science Porn Disguised as Dinosaur Fiction and Oh. So. Good!
Jurassic Park and Congo - Michael Crichton


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.

jurassic-park-animated-series-ellie-sattlerFrom the cartoon that was never made


When Ellie shook hands, Gennaro said in surprise, “You’re a woman.”

“These things happen,” she said

tumblr_mx98m1z44r1rc7tkso1_500A 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.

2.jpgosd-vont‘s version


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!



Just cuz:



I am going to end this review with a different version of Jurassic Park i.e. one that includes kittens!




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review 2016-05-08 21:17
Jurassic Park (audiobook) by Michael Crichton, narrated by Scott Brick
Jurassic Park - Scott Brick,Michael Crichton

My first exposure to Jurassic Park was the first movie. After seeing that a bunch of times, I read the book. I remember liking both the movie and the book about the same, but for different reasons – the movie had great action scenes and amazing on-screen dinos (the part of me that wanted to be a paleontologist when I grew up was thrilled), while the book had a lot more science-y details and a greater variety of dinos.

I spotted this during an Audible sale. I loved Scott Brick's narration in the excerpt, so I decided to take a trip down memory lane and find out how well the book held up. The answer is...not so well.

Although I remembered the book and the movie being very different, the first half of the book was a lot like the movie (which I re-watched right after listening to this audiobook). There were a few differences here and there, but the bones of the story were basically the same, up to a certain point. Hammond invited a bunch of people to his not-yet-open-to-the-public park, hoping to convince everyone that it was great, the real deal, and worth all the money that had been sunk into it. Hammond was less a kindly grandfather and more a slick salesman (with a side of Martin Shkreli), Grant and Ellie weren't a couple but rather professor and grad student (and she supposedly had a fiance somewhere, not that she ever thought about him), and Tim and Lex were older brother and younger sister rather than the other way around. Initially, the biggest difference between the book and the movie was that Book Jurassic Park was doomed right from the start, whereas movie Jurassic Park didn't seem to be doing too badly until Nedry messed everything up.

Book Jurassic Park was an absolute mess. Even before anyone visited Hammond's island, there were dinosaur sightings and attacks in nearby towns and villages. The park's computer system had horrific flaws, more than just the backdoor Nedry left himself. Dr. Wu, the scientist who was primarily responsible for filling in the blanks in the dinosaur DNA so that functional animals could be created, rarely seemed to put much thought into his work. I'm still not sure why he inserted amphibian DNA into some of the dinosaurs' DNA when it was repeatedly stated that dinosaurs were like both birds and reptiles - why not stick to just reptile and bird DNA? Also, his supposed safeguards against the dinosaurs escaping and breeding had enormous holes. Even if you took out the “breeding” part (which I thought was a pretty big stretch on Crichton's part, anyway), the lysine contingency Dr. Wu kept bringing up was dumb. The dinosaurs were designed so that they couldn't produce the amino acid lysine and would go into a coma if they weren't given lysine supplements by the park staff. Except a couple seconds worth of googling gave me a large list of lysine-rich foods that the dinosaurs could have found and eaten, making the lysine contingency useless.

Although Scott Brick's narration was excellent, I'd probably have been better off reading my paper copy, because the first half was so. Incredibly. Boring. All that science-y stuff that fascinated me back when I first read the book 15 or so years ago was a dated slog this time around, and I'd loved to have skimmed most of it. I'd find myself wondering why Crichton hadn't mentioned Dolly the sheep, only to realize that Dolly wasn't cloned until 6 years after this book came out. Then there was the Human Genome Project, which Crichton mentioned as a thing that scientists were still just talking about doing.

I got the impression that Crichton didn't have a whole lot of respect for science or scientists. Malcolm, a mathematician and one of Hammond's biggest detractors, seemed to be acting as Crichton's author surrogate whenever he launched into one of his lectures on the dangers of genetic engineering or pretty much any scientific advancement. I was a little confused about some of his arguments, but he seemed to believe humanity was better off back in the Stone Age, when humans (according to him) only spent 20 hours a week working to feed themselves and had the rest of their time free to do as their pleased. Never mind high infant mortality rates, predators, disease, and more. I wish Malcolm's injury had had the power to shut him up, because he was often insufferable.

Which brings me to Lex, the other character I could barely stand. The only thing she had going for her was that she was a kid, which isn't saying much. I probably wouldn't have minded if Crichton had broken the “don't kill the kids” rule and had her get eaten, except then I'd have had to deal with other characters moping about her death. Lex literally did nothing except make certain parts of the story more difficult than they needed to be. I didn't like Tim much more than I liked her, but at least Tim had useful knowledge and skills.

All in all, this wasn't as good as I remembered it being – the movie held up much better. The first half of the book was ridiculously boring. The second half had more action and dinosaurs but everything still occasionally stopped for one of Crichton's infodumps, like the lengthy explanation of “paradigm shift” near the end. I enjoyed getting to note the differences between the book and the movie, but the book had too many problems for me to truly enjoy it. The park was a mess held together by duct tape and marketing, the ending was kind of ridiculous, and I'm still upset that Crichton had the Velociraptors messily kill a baby Velociraptor on-page (Crichton was so close to getting through the whole book without killing a baby dino on-page, so close!).

I'm tempted to keep my paper copy of this book for a future re-read, just to see if it works better when I'm able to skim the slow bits and can see all of Crichton's various charts, graphs, and computer screen info, but I need the shelf space and I doubt it'd work that much better in paper form than it did in audio.


Rating Note:


I had problems figuring out how to rate this. On the one hand, the first half was a slog, and certain characters grated on my nerves until the very end. On the other hand, the second half was better, and Scott Brick's narration was pretty good. I considered giving it 3 stars but then took off half a star when I realized that I hated the first half enough that I'd probably skip it entirely if I ever decided to relisten to this. I will forever be thankful that this book resulted in the movie, though.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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