There are some books that I believe deserve the Folio Society makeover and Jurassic Park is just one of those books.
Folio have excelled themselves with this new edition of the 1990 bestseller from Michael Crichton. Jurassic Park holds a dear place in the hearts of people my age (cough, cough) who as youngsters were mesmerized by the brilliance of Stephen Spielberg as he brought realistic dinosaurs to life on screen for the very first time (none of that stop motion stuff of Ray Harryhausen).
Jurassic Park has become a hug hit series, maybe one of the most bankable franchise films of all time (that doesn’t involve people in capes) – it has embedded itself in our consciousness and it is not going anywhere soon. I as a father have watched the original film and the new films with my daughters and the magic is still there, it’s buried deep down like a fossil, and every so often it is dug up and you can’t help but stare awestruck at its brilliance when it’s rediscovered as you’re flicking the channels and the recognisable score breaks through the speakers or you catch a glimpse of your favourite scene.
It was a great many years after first seeing Jurassic Park at the Bromley Odeon with dad, any many action figures later that I first picked up a copy of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I found the book as one often does in a charity shop, sifting through the dross, a bibliophile on a mission to uncover something hidden – a modern day palaeontologist but with a thirst for books and not bones, hoping to find something that was hidden but ached to be discovered.
The book I found was an early edition of Jurassic Park – the cover image (no it wasn’t the movie tie in book) was of an island and lightening striking at the very centre and the words Jurassic Park and Michael Crichton emblazoned across the cover and my heart skipped a beat. As I held this book in my hands, all the old feelings came rushing back, I was joy-filled for the first time in a while, nostalgia flooded over me and I remembered thinking of the scenes from the film that had terrorised me as a child – the raptor kill at the start, the kitchen scene, the T-Rex chase scene, the Dilophosaurus that spat at Nedry – and the huge final act set piece. So with my prize discovered and paid for I then charted my course for home and set about devoured the book.
Fast forward an even greater many years later and Folio Society have released a quite stunning book to honour this much loved classic. The book comes in a slipcase which appears to look like the hide of a dinosaur, it feels wonderful, and ensures that when you hold the book in your hand you are like Dr. Grant touching the Triceratops, you can almost feel the book beating under your finger tips – there is something almost regal about it. Then when you slip the book out of the case you are greeted with a gorgeous wraparound cover which showcases the beautiful illustrations of Vector That Fox – it’s not only the cover that is stunning the internal artwork which is littered within takes your breath away when you are reading and flip the page to see a painstakingly gorgeous piece of artwork that is dripping with brilliance staring back art you, all of which pull at the heart-strings and the nostalgia coursing through your veins.
If you have never discovered Jurassic Park the novel, by Michael Crichton – now is the perfect opportunity to do so, with this stunning edition you will have something that will keep you enthralled from start to finish and an item you can hand down to your children after you return to dust – this edition and this book will outlast us all, becoming a fossilised relic that people will continue to hunt for well after we’re gone. Also if you’ve never read Jurassic Park you are missing out on a completely different experience, one that is so much more enjoyable than the film, it’s a bit heavy on the scientific side of things (of which I really enjoyed), but there is so much more that didn’t make it into the film and / or was changed to appease a viewing audience for a summer family blockbuster. I’ll touch on a few of these differences now, but I will try to keep these as spoiler free as possible.
Anyone who has seen the movie will remember the pulse-pounding opening, when the delivery of a dinosaur to the park ends rather badly for a park employee – it’s horrific, I had even forgot how fear inducing it was until I watched it with my daughters and they were a quivering wreck before the film had even really got underway. Well the book is more of a slow burn where as the book opens we have a clinic admit a worker from InGen who they say was injured in a construction accident, even though his injuries would suggest something else entirely (as he appears to have been mauled) the boy eventually dies of his injuries but not before uttering that he was attacked by a raptor.
The book spends a great deal of time building up to our reveal of the island and the park, and another noticeable scene, mainly because this forms the opening of the second film The Lost World. A wealthy couples daughter is attacked by a pack of small dinosaurs (Compsognathus) which then leads a group of scientists to try and discover and determine the identity of the things that attacked this child.
There is a scene in the book which I absolutely loved, it was full of pace, tension, dread and what a set piece – it was the moment that Grant, Lex and Tim had to sneak past a sleeping T-Rex. They are trying to get to the river to inflate a raft to escape on, but whilst they inflate the raft the T-Rex wakes and comes after them – one of my favourite parts of the book, a full on adrenaline ride, which was better than anything the film could throw at us (I know the T-Rex scene in the film is a fan favourite, but wait until you’ve read this to cast any assumptions!).
Their is a raptor siege which I feel inspired the famous kitchen scene in the film, but in the book this whole sequence is absolutely terrifying and oh so bloody, you can see why they left this out of the family blockbuster when thinking of all those families sitting in the seats, eating their popcorn wanting to see cute dinosaurs with their children.
There are a few pieces at the end of the book that I can’t talk about without spoiling anything for the reader but what I will say is that these set up the next book / film perfectly, it’s a shame they didn’t go this route with the films but I guess what happens at the end is not happy viewing for anyone!
There are also some huge character changes within the book, these I feel were changed for the film adaptation to ensure that all the characters were (almost) likable. But with the novel telling it as it is, these characters become fully fleshed out, there are some that you despise who you might have loved in the adaptation – but I believe it’s these characters and their traits in the book that help solidify this story and make this such a gripping and stunning read.
With the Folio Society edition of Jurassic Park, you are getting a book that has been polished and buffed like a piece of amber, amber which holds within it the secrets to an adventure you’ve seen before, but one which will enrapture you from start to finish. Jurassic Park by Folio Society is a true masterpiece that takes your breath away.
Everything about the construction of this book has been carefully thought through, the illustrations work beautifully to give the reader a glimpse at the horrors and the wonders on the page, the cover gives us a glimpse into a world that is waiting for us to discover it – and the story held within the pages is nothing like the story we’ve been fed for the last thirty years.
Pick up this stunning edition of Jurassic Park today, you will not be disappointed!
The Folio Society edition of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, illustrated by Vector That Fox, is available exclusively from www.FolioSociety.com
Michael Crichton (1942–2008) was born in Chicago and raised on Long Island before studying at Harvard, where he graduated in anthropology and medicine. While still at medical school he began to write novels that were published under pseudonyms. The first book released under his own name was The Andromeda Strain (1969), which became a New York Times bestseller. The novel established Crichton as a major figure in American genre fiction, particularly as the author of enormously popular techno-thrillers which draw on traditions of fantasy adventure fiction stretching back to Arthur Conan Doyle but update them with contemporary scientific and technological themes. Crichton was also a successful writer for film and TV, notably as the creator of ER and Westworld. Many of his books were adapted for the screen, often by the author himself, and the film of Jurassic Park (1993) – released three years after the novel – became the first movie to earn $1 billion at the box office. Its success was followed by The Lost World (1995; filmed 1997) and by several more recent films set in Crichton’s Jurassic Park universe.
Vector That Fox is the creative identity of Jo Breese, who graduated with a first-class degree in Graphic Design: Illustration from Sheffield Hallam University, and is now a professional illustrator. Commercial client work began during her studies, with a diverse range of jobs, including spot illustrations for the Wall Street Journal. Following this, Jo quickly took a post as a graphics illustrator at the Sunday Times (2014–18). After leaving London, Jo returned to the north of England and teaches part-time on Sheffield Hallam’s new illustration course, while continuing to freelance and sell artwork online. Jo’s drawings have been featured in exhibitions, including in Berlin and Tokyo, but can mainly be found in editorial contexts, especially magazines.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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