I first met Drs Grant, Sattler, Malcolm and friends, like many of my generation in the summer of ’93 through Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster. It was an exciting ride and my then, 13 year old self had a great time. The adventure, the laughter, Jeff Goldblum’s dry turn as Malcolm and of course the Dinosaurs. It was brilliant!!
Some 8 years later I picked up a copy of the book in my local bookstore, thought of the fun I’d had at the cinema, bought it, took it home and categorically failed to read it. Don’t get me wrong I tried, a few times, but struggled to find a way in. I wasn’t a reader back then so struggled to make the connection and it became a worn and battered copy in my bag as I carried it with me, stuffed it into boxes through house moves and spring cleans and stacked and unstacked it in my “to read” pile. I was always intent on keeping it to try again and so never got rid of the book but in the end it came to rest on the bookshelf in my bedroom to look worn and well loved but remained unread.
Fast forward another 16 years and on the hunt for a new book to read I spotted it again on my shelf. Conscious of my failed attempts I decided to try once more and I’m so glad I did.
This time as I started to read I found the pages turned – and easily at that, as I raced through the text. I realised I was reading with a smile on my face, turning pages quicker and quicker. The ironic Dr. Malcolm was back, the dinosaurs were back, the adventure was back and with it the joy of my 13 year old self. With a big grin I had set foot back on Isla Nublar.
Within his park, Crichton has brought together a wonderfully detailed world full of characters and creatures in whom you care about. The motivation for each character is clear, and they feel fully rounded. Whether it’s Grant and Ellie balancing their wonder at the creatures with their pragmatism of their situation or Hammond’s blind viewpoint that he is right, through to Malcolm’s belief that it can’t end well and the children behaving well…like children. All the characters have life breathed into them, they all have motivations of their own, character flaws and baggage and each are as interesting as the next. As the story evolved and the characters were sent on separate paths I discovered I was always interested in each individual side story, never finding myself wanting to focus on only one person, keeping me wanting to have an eager eye on everyone.
It is clear that Crichton has been able, through his characters, to bring an understanding to the science and ethical arguments to his adventure. Through Malcom discussing the moral debate and Chaos Theory to Wu explaining the science, the descriptions and details are written so well that within the story, as fantastical as it is, they allow the world to remain grounded.
The world for the story, both on and off the island was fully rich in detail. Off island they aid backstory and motivation and once on the island it was easy to get lost in the jungles and rivers, rainstorms and blaring heat. It was easy to picture the compounds, visitors centre, paddocks and rainforests wondering if there may be a creature just through the trees.
And as to those creatures, the dinosaurs themselves are a wonderful part of the tale. They are never just a monster to avoid or fear, the big bad wolf lurking in the shadows or a lumbering beast that stumbles in and out of the scene. They are real animals behaving as such, each species as individually written as the next.
I’m so glad I tried again to read the book I never got round to getting rid of. Crichton’s Dinoventure is a wonderful ride from start to finish, with people to care about and cheer on and it is well worth your time.
Oh and don’t forget….to paraphrase the late, great Richard Attenborough….They have a TRex. What more could you want?