Dinosaurs, Genetics, and Morals REVIEWING Jurassic Park

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam!! This is the eighth Halloween 2020 post. All month long, every day, I will be reviewing or showcasing different books I think may be good for the Halloween season. Today we are talking about one of my all-time favorite books.

 Jurassic Park

Author: Michael Crichton
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Thriller
Year: 1990

Jurassic Park


An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind's most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them -- for a price. 

Until something goes wrong....

In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton taps all his mesmerizing talent and scientific brilliance to create his most electrifying technothriller.


I can't believe I've never talked about this book on my blog before. I first read this book in high school and loved it. I have re-read it at least twice more, and now a third time, for this month. While this isn't your stereotypical horror book that you would think of for Halloween, I think it fits in very well. While I'm not a fan of standard horror (ghosts, clowns, possessed people), I really like what I like to call "creature features." Some of my favorite movies are Jurassic Park, Tremors, Jaws, Godzilla, Sharknado and Evolution. I'm one of those people who purposely buys bad shark and dinosaur movies from Walmart's $5 movie bins. I enjoy bad, B-rate monster movies, because they make me laugh from how ridiculous they are. They do count under horror, so they are my favorite type of horror. They're often more thrilling and fun for me than other types of horror, and I really wanted to make sure they got some attention for this month. All horror types, for all different ages are welcome here for my Halloween festivities! 

Most people are familiar with the general story of this book, because of the hit film of the same title, directed by Steven Spielberg from 1993. What lot of people don't know though, is it was a book first! This is actually one of the few instances where I think the book and the movie are equally good, in their own ways. I don't think either is better than the other, because it just depends on how you want to experience the story. Let me elaborate on that a bit.

Jurassic Park as a film, focuses mainly on the wonder of seeing dinosaurs. You get lots of dinosaurs and a generally family friendly-ish adventure. There isn't anything overly scary or anything too visually frightening for younger viewers. I used to watch this as a bedtime movie as a young kid, and I'm the kind of person who is pretty squeamish and has to check content ratings on movies before watching them (for gore content). This movie was always one I could handle, so I appreciate it a lot. It gets the point across without going too far. It's fast-paced, it packs the science into easy to digest sections, and it is just a lot of fun. 

Jurassic Park as a book is a technothriller. It focuses on the dangers of applying science in certain ways. It warns against rushing to apply new scientific principles for financial gain and popularity, while sacrificing safety and caution. As Malcolm says "your scientists were so focused on if they could, that they didn't stop to think if they SHOULD." There is a much larger focus on the scientific information behind the dinosaurs. There is also more focus on the computer systems used to automate and run the park. We see a lot more of the behind the scenes aspects of the park than the movie shows. Additionally, we get more deaths and some more gruesome ones compared to the movie. For example, we don't really have arms dropping on people, but there is a detached leg. If you watched Jurassic Park first, you won't actually fully know how the book ends, because there are enough differences from one to the other. I'm not here to fully talk about those, as I mainly want to focus on the book. I just felt this was necessary due to the popularity of the film. 

So as I mentioned, the book can get very technical at times. Michael Crichton really focuses on making the science in his books as believable and realistic as possible. That is something found across most of his books, which I have always enjoyed. You can learn a little something while also enjoying thrilling adventures that are often scary from a certain perspective. Jurassic Park is the story of a group of people who go to a new kind of zoological facility that houses genetically engineered dinosaurs, who end up having to survive in the park. We have a paleontologist, a paleobotanist, a chaotician, a lawyer, and the park owner. We also have a veterinarian, a public relations guy, the guy who designed the computer systems, a guy who oversees the functioning of the systems, the genetic engineer, and the park owner's two grandkids. They are coming to do an inspection due to some issues the park has had. A new lizard that seems to be a dinosaur has appeared in Costa Rica, a few workers have died, and investors--as well as the U.S. government--are very concerned. What starts off as a weekend excursion, turns into a story of greed, money, survival, and moral obligations. The characters all have different reasons for being on the island and different ways of thinking about the problem. Some have a higher sense of responsibility and others are motivated to do things purely for self-gain. This variety really brings depth to this story and each character is pretty interesting. Except for Lex, who in the book is the younger, sporty sibling who knows nothing about computers. She's really just here to be a hinderance, which I guess works. 

I honestly love this book and have ever since I read it. I had never read a "technothriller" before and I also really loved dinosaurs as a kid. I have always found animals, including prehistoric ones, to be fascinating. This is a science adventure through and through, similar to the stories written by Jules Verne, but with a more modern, simple wrapping. This book is much more relevant to issues within the science community today and while it has scientific principles in it, it's less bogged down by these aspects than most people would probably think Verne's works are. I really like contemplating the questions the book presents as far as what is done and what should be done. Ian Malcolm brings up a lot of interesting points (that the movie does use), which really make you think about what scientists are doing and how it affects the world. How we see ourselves as a species and the level of hubris we can possess very much comes into question within this book. 

So how does this fit into this month's festivities and why isn't this just a book for a standard month? BECAUSE KILLER DINOSAURS!! Right from the get-go we end up with children being attacked and a guy taken to a clinic with fatal injuries. Throughout the book we are faced with giant carnivores, flying terrors, venomous spitters, and super fast pack hunters. If we were in that park for real, we would all be pretty terrified. Does the story in of itself scare us? Probably not too much....but if you really think about what humans can do and why we choose to do things, that actually ends up being pretty scary in of itself. This book approaches horror in a different way and I definitely recommend it. 

Ultimately, I love this book and I think it still has a lot of contemporary value. If you want to take time with it and contemplate what it is saying, then this ends up being a very deep and thought-provoking book. If you just want to read through it quick and enjoy it as an adventure, you can do that too. If you want to be scared out of your pants, that probably isn't going to happen, but if you want to see some fearsome monsters--both animal and human--then this will hit the nail on the head. I give Jurassic Park a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯. I love this book so much, I'm constantly recommending it, I have two copies of it, and I plan on re-reading it for many more years to come. This is the book that made me a fan of Michael Crichton, and I hope to talk more about his works later on.

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books straight to your screen and even provide my own two cents about them. See you tomorrow!