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After a childhood growing up with dinosaurs (not literally) thanks to Jurassic Park, my curiosity led me to purchase the book that started it all. And Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton was a worthwhile read, both despite and because of the differences from the film.
Fans of the movie will find themselves first in a strange prologue about InGen's filing for bankruptcy and escaped compys. Right after that the first half of the plot has few surprises and proceeds mostly the same. This may cause a bad case of Get On With It Already, as the "they're making dinosaurs" secret is kept up for much longer. Additionally the identity of Nedry as The Mole is kept secret until halfway through the story, so a nasty case of It Was His Sled will ensue. Despite this, numerous elemental changes have been made that will surprise. Tim and Lex's ages have been reversed, Gennaro is more sympathetic, Grant has a beard and likes kids, Hammond is greedier, there are two t-rexes, only five species have frog DNA, etc. There's also a lot more technical data and chaos theory monologues, which may bore you the first time but be worth a reread later.
But these little changes pile up until the second half of the book is nothing like the film's. Malcolm's wound is much more serious and the technicians are scurrying all over trying to figure out what next went wrong. Grant and co must battle through the island. All must flee from the raptors while they struggle to get the power back on, and additionally warn a boat accidentally carrying raptors. The last subplot about finding the raptor nest so they can tell how many escaped sets in Ending Fatigue and comes to nothing as the island gets bombed moments later. Still, this part is more exciting because the odds pile up so much that you can't guess what'll happen next.
So which is better? The book closes up more of the film's plot holes and gives much greater detail overall, vs the film where everything broke because of one betrayal. This improves its Aesop about how controlling nature is impossible, because it shows much was breaking already. On the other hand, the movie beats the book on spectacle and wonder. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and 5 minutes of watching a T-rex rampage beats reading a rampage by miles. So give them both a try. They complement each other.
I must say, I prefer the book, but I do love them both. I liked the characters better in the book. I never found the book's speeches and technical jargon boring. The ending did drag a bit, but I prefer the climax with the Velociraptors in the hatchery than the one with the T-Rex in the movie.
Crichton mainly knows his science is goofy here which keeps it good. Probably the chaos theory stuff is the closest he gets to his normal traps. Have you read the second book? There's a brilliant continuity stretch because of the ending of the first
I have read the second book, and it did confuse me that he just brought Malcolm back to life, though it was kinda funny in hindsight. Overall I thought The Lost World was interesting, but it seemed to get a case of Lost Aesop, especially at the end, since the scientists seemed so sure that they could prove their idea of how the dinosaurs went extinct with this colony, only for problems to arise and they deciding they never would find out. As a result, we never got to hear what their theory was, which annoyed me.
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