Living Without Lighting
In this weekend's digest of remarkable events, I finally finished Jurassic Park. Not the movie, mind you, but the book. Well, the audiobook. I simply don't have the money to blow on twenty-dollar paperbacks. I sat through all thirteen hours of it, and after listening to it I can confidently say that I enjoyed it. Compared to the movie, the book explored a lot more interesting concepts that made the tale both deeper and frightening. At the same time however, there was a lot of unnecessary "fluff" that got in the way of the otherwise captivating plot, especially for a story that was meant to be a series from the start.
First of all, the characters. Due to the nature of movies in general, it was obvious they had to swap a lot of characters around for both the sake of cutting down on time costs and creating a more culturally accepted cast of characters. While these changes are relatively minor with Grant and Ellie, the lawyer Gennaro and John Hammond both take on very different roles. Unlike the movie, in which he's a sleazy lawyer who's destined from the start to be casted as T-Rex food, the book Gennaro has an entire redemption arch that transforms him from such character into a dino-hunting badass. He runs multiple missions across the island with the game warden Maldoon, and at one point he even beats down a velociraptor. As for John Hammond, in the novel he's a narcissistic entrepreneur who's only concern is the park's success, and he's looking to make as much money from it as possible. While the author grants Gennaro survival for his heroic deeds, old man Hammond gets eaten by the end of the book.
Second, the dinosaurs. Steven Spielberg did an incredible job bringing these animals to life in the movie, with practical effects unmatched by even today's CGI-riddled garbage. However, the creatures in the novel become terrifying in a more psychological way. The Tyrannosaurus Rex, for example, displays much more intelligence in the novel than in the movie. It follows Dr. Grant and the kids far down the island's river, only to reveal itself once more when they see it at the bottom of a waterfall, waiting for them to drop into its mouth. At no point does it "save the kids" by entering the visitor's center, and this makes it just as frightening as the velociraptors are. Speaking of velociraptors, in the novel they display even more peculiar skills, being able to bite through solid metal and jump a dozen feet high. The author makes sure not to skip out on the gore, and every death is described in bone-crunching detail. My kind of novel.
Finally, the whole "psychological" aspect of the book. The nineties must've been an exciting time for tech, and the entire novel is dabbled with erotica-length essays on approaching technologies. Surprisingly enough, quite a few things the author talks about can be prominently seen today. While these digressions allow the reader to comprehend just what kind of mechanics and sciences were used to bring the author's world to life, it becomes annoying farther and farther into the novel. For example, Ian Malcolm and his "chaos theory". His role in the story is to bring logical doubt into the park's success, and rightfully explain why sticking over two-hundred man-killing beasts inside an electrified pen probably isn't a good idea. After the initial T-Rex incident, he's rushed to the visitor's lodge where he spends the rest of the book, and presumably his life, wasting away on a bed, succumbing to a decapitated leg. Rather than playing an active role like he does in the movie, the latter half of the book we are intermittently taken back to Malcom's room, where we get a dozen or so paragraphs on essentially the whole "dinosaurs are bad" rant every time. We get it, now can you just die already? He almost begins to feel like a Mel Brooks character, having one consistent gag that's expected to be seen every time he comes on screen. Except, it feels more like a reddit user who actively fishes for upvotes in r/science. The author still does a good job at getting his point across however, and these lengthy monologues are more trifling than deal-breaking.
Perhaps the only thing that truly disappointed me was the ending. After making it to the Costa Rican mainland, we learn that Dr. Grant and Ellie are stuck there, to help hunt down whatever dinosaurs that happened to make their way across the ocean and into the rainforest. A good cliff-hanger, but at the same time, r e a l l y ? With the ideas of "unbendable nature" and chaos theory being so set in stone with the events and rants of the entire book, the last thing you'd expect the author to want to do is make this book the next Harry Potter franchise. I've always cringed at the second and third movies, as they had no real purpose but to showcase "scawy dinorawrs" and drag the concept of Isla Nublar into a never-ending shit-show revisited by the same characters time and time again. What made both the original movie and book so unsettling was the concept in itself, and by replicating that same plotline over and over the message being conveyed becomes obsolete. When was the last Jurassic Park movie made, 2015 or something? They weren't even dinosaurs at that point, but instead Lovecraftian GMOs that played a good role in testing the studio's CGI at the time. Oh well, at least the newer movies kept my friends and I entertained for a few hours. Meanwhile, the novel kept me entertained for well over half a day. Well, more like over the course of a week. Either way, that's my two cents.
Until next time...