(F) Ages 15-18, (G) Ages 16 and up, Adventure/Thriller, Book Reviews, Discussion Starters, Science Fiction, Teen/Adult
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Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

The story that inspired the movie chain: Jurassic Park is more complex than the movie in every way–and not for kids.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Ballantine, 2012 (25th anniversary edition). 464 pages.

Reading Level: Ages 16 and up/adult

Recommended For: Ages 16 and up/adult

Summary + Review

Most of us know the basic story of Jurassic Park: a crazy old man pays exhorbitant amounts of money to enable top genetic scientists to clone dinosaurs and make the old man’s dreams come to life. After designing and creating the amusement park, Hammond (the old man) and his lawyers now need the “experts” to validate the safety and authenticity of their dreams. Cue dramatic music: things go horribly wrong, people are munched by dinosaurs, and people must reckon with the payback for their arrogance in assuming they could create and control life.

On the surface, this is a story Christians can very much get behind: humans cannot create life. Humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation and therefore wield much influence over the rest of our created earth. We are stewards and have the right to make decisions on behalf of the created order around us (planting, sowing, reaping, caring for livestock, re-routing rivers, etc.). But we cannot create life nor, ultimately, can we control it.

The movie Jurassic Park is far tamer than the book (!); the book is packed with meaty scientific ideas to discuss with older teens, but your middle schoolers who love the movie should wait a few years before reading the book. Profanity proliferates, evolutionary theory is front and center, and chaos theory requires some mental chops to follow. Most middle schoolers aren’t ready for the philosophical complexities presented, and the sheer amount of violence might give them nightmares. More people die in more detail than in the movie….

Read, Watch, and Discuss

That being said, Jurassic Park (the book) is a wildly interesting book to read and discuss, particularly as our own culture wrestles with similar questions: how far does our human power and capability reach? Do we have the right to manipulate the gene pool? Chaos theory doesn’t factor in God, but perhaps it does have a ring of truth in so much as we can’t control all outcomes (or even predict them). Creation (“nature”) is far more complex than our human brains can fully comprehend; that’s why Jesus must sustain it (Hebrews 1:1-4). What does your teen think? What are the effects of pride and vanity in this book? Are there fools who don’t listen to correction (remember our Proverbs study last summer?)? [Note: this is not a book to listen to due to the amount of profanity you’ll be hearing; if your older teens are interested, consider reading it independently and then discussing it together when everyone is done]

If your tweens and teens are ready for the movie, you can discuss many of those same questions with them. The character Malcolm spouts forth plenty of pithy statements about the nature of life, and the movie provides plenty of evidence for the famous Proverb: Pride goes before a fall. Bonus: the movie is a fantastic movie for teaching literary elements. If you want to kick it up a notch, consider reading the poem “Ozymandias” and comparing it to the movie. Just don’t tell your kids that you’re doing any homework over summer break!

Cautions: Profanity, Vulgarity, Violence, Worldview (evolution, anti-God/chaos theory)

Overall Rating: 3.25

  • Artistic Rating: 3.75
  • Worldview Rating: 2.5

Have you read (or watched) Jurassic Park? What do you think?

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  1. I just read this for the first time last month! I remember all of the “cool science kids” reading it in high school, but I never got into it then. I enjoyed it, but it’s one of those books I feel like I would only recommend to certain people who I know would enjoy the science/bioethics aspects of the story.
    I haven’t heard great things about the sequel, any idea if that is worth reading?

  2. This novel made me fall in love with reading. My obsession with dinosaurs helped. Actually, I think I read it in middle school.

  3. jessa says

    Thank you for the review Betsy. I’m wondering how bad the profanity is, would you mind expanding on that? My 12-year old is dying to read it and although he’s heard every word in the book at school, we don’t want to endorse that at home by providing reading materials for him with cuss words. Also, how graphic is the violence? I have seen the movie but wondering specifically how graphic are the descriptions of violence to humans? Thank you!

    • Great questions, Jessa. I’ll try to answer to the best of my memory. There is a LOT of profanity, not just vulgarity. A lot of Jesus’s name, in particular (definitely easier to look past if you are reading versus listening to the book, but still…). Plenty of ordinary variety vulgar language (d— it, and so forth). As far as violence goes, one of the early scenes involves a species of dinosaur not in the movie that is attacking a sleeping baby and biting off chunks of its face…. Kind of gruesome! Some kids will have no trouble skimming over that sort of violence, but it is definitely more intense than the movie’s version. Hope that helps!

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