Jurassic Park Plot Summary 🦕 

Jurassic Park was published in 1990 by Michael Crichton. The groundbreaking cautionary tale introduced the world to the possibilities of genetic engineering.

Jurassic Park

Michael Crichton 

Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park is one of the most popular novels published in the 1990s. It follows a cast of likable, intelligent characters as they battle for survival against long-extinct dinosaurs. 

Jurassic Park Plot Summary

‘Spoiler-Free’ Jurassic Park Summary

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is a  unique 1990 thriller and a cautionary tale against genetic engineering. It follows several characters invited to a mysterious island where dinosaurs have been recreated using ancient DNA. 

A series of strange animal attacks begins this book and alludes to the chaos to follow as unprepared paleontologists, doctors, and children, contend with a host of creatures that long since went extinct. They battle for survival while also trying to prevent the dinosaurs from escaping to mainland Costa Rica where they can cause far more destruction. 

Jurassic Park Summary 

Spoiler alert: important details of the novel are revealed below.

Jurassic Park begins with a series of lizard attacks in Costa Rica. The previously unknown species piques the interest of a lab at Columbia University. A technician calls world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, who is shocked to see an x-ray of the lizard skeleton, which he immediately recognizes as a dinosaur. 

Soon after, he and his research partner Dr. Ellie Sattler with whom he was working on various paleontological digs, are flown to a mysterious island off the coast of Costa Rica. 

There, they meet John Hammond, the owner of InGen, which funded many of Dr. Grant’s digs. He informed them that they were going on a tour of what he calls Jurassic Park. There, the protagonists discover that with the help of an ingenious geneticist, Dr. Wu, the company has managed to genetically engineer dinosaurs from ancient DNA.

Also present on the island are Hammond’s lawyer, Donald Genaro, and brilliant mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm. The latter immediately expresses concern regarding the park’s ability to contain the creatures they’ve created. Throughout the novel, he suggests that a mathematical principle known as chaos theory will ensure that the experiment goes terribly wrong.

The island and park are staffed by computer experts and doctors, including Dennis Nedry, a computer scientist who, unbeknownst to Hammond and InGen, has accepted payment to smuggle dinosaur DNA off the island to a rival company.

Nedry disables the park’s security system to steal the embryos. This initiates a cascade of failures that disable the electric fences separating and confining the dinosaurs. Nedry soon meets his end at the hand of an escaped dilophosaur. 

The power outage has also separated the various protagonists, including Hammond’s two young grandchildren, Tim and Lex. Of immediate concern is the t-rex, which has broken through the now disabled fence. The creature eats one character and injures Dr. Ian Malcolm (an injury that later proves fatal).

Various characters set out into the park on foot, including the park’s warden, Robert Muldoon. The power comes back on, but the dinosaurs are already loose.

All the main characters soon find out that despite the park’s attempts to keep all the dinosaurs female, they were created with frog DNA that allowed them to change sex. This revelation supports Ian Malcolm’s chaos theory and means that the dinosaur population is not being controlled, as Hammond asserted.

The main characters are pursued by pterodactyls and the T Rex. They race back to safety before the power shuts down again, and the intelligent and terrifying velociraptors escape. The small dinosaurs kill Arnold as he attempts to restart the generator and Dr. Wu while he tries to help Dr. Sattler keep the creatures away from Alan Grant. The velociraptors stalk the children as well, but Tim manages to lock one in the kitchen’s large freezer and escape. 

Tim, who is exceptionally computer savvy for his age, attempts to restart the electric fence. He does so just before the raptors break into the building. He also calls the supply ship, and Gennaro commands that they turn around after discovering that some of the dinosaurs have stowed away on board. 

Muldoon, Dr. Ellie Sattler, Gennaro, and Dr. Allen Grant set out to find the velociraptor nest and figure out how many of the creatures got away or are still on the island. While the other characters are gone, Hammond trips and falls into a ravine where he’s attacked by other small dinosaurs who had escaped.

At the novel’s end, the Costa Rican National Guard arrives and blows up the island. Only a few main characters survive the ordeal, and the book ends with Dr. Grant learning that several dinosaurs have escaped the Isla Nublar and are roaming the forests on the Costa Rican mainland. 


What is the main idea of Jurassic Park?

The main idea is that humankind should not attempt to play God. Scientists should not experiment with any technology they don’t fully understand. Specifically, the book acts as a warning against genetic engineering.

How does the Jurassic Park book end?

The book ends with Dr. Grant finding out that, despite their best attempts, dinosaurs have escaped the island and are roaming the jungles in mainland Costa Rica.

Who dies in the Jurassic Park book?

The many characters who died in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park novel include John Hammond, Dr. Ian Malcolm, Dr. Wu, Dennis Nedry, and John Arnold. 

Is Jurassic Park based on a book?

Yes, the film “Jurassic Park” is based on a 1990 novel, Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton. The second “Jurassic Park” film, “The Lost World,” was also based on Crichton’s writing (in this case, The Lost World, which was published in 1995). 

Is the Jurassic Park novel worth reading?

Yes, the Jurassic Park novel is worth reading. Although today the film is far more popular, Crichton’s original novel is just as thrilling. Plus, readers spend far more time with the characters featured in the film. Some may be surprised by the changes the filmmakers made and what Michael Crichton originally intended. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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