Dragon Teeth

Dragon TeethAuthor: Michael Crichton
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

“Hunting for bones,” wrote Johnson, “has a peculiar fascination, not unlike hunting for gold.  One never knows what one will find, and the possibilities, the potential discoveries lying in wait, fuels the quest.”

I am, and forever will be, a diehard Crichton fan.  He had such a way of weaving a story, of seeing the possible in the impossible, of making the make believe into reality.  So every time one of these posthumous novel comes out, I snag it up with my greedy little palms.  I forget the mediocrity of Pirate Attitudes.  I forget the disappointment of Micro.  And here I go again.

Dragon Teeth feels equal parts Crichton and not Crichton.  The fundamental plot is something he would have charged through, but Dragon Teeth feels like the first, unpolished, not wholly fleshed out manuscript that never had time to come to fruition.  Everything about it, including the choppy, awkward dialogue, feels like a rushed first pass (though, admittedly, a first pass an author like Crichton could shop as a manuscript).

I understand the urge to continue to share Crichton’s work with the readers, such as myself, so devoted to him.  But it almost feels like a tarnish to his painstaking process now after the fact.  Dragon Teeth feels like a novel he wouldn’t have wanted to share with the world, because it wasn’t ready.  If only he had had the time, I can’t imagine how much better this novel could have been.

Here are some of the areas where it felt like I could tell it just wasn’t a true Crichton novel:

  • Johnson’s quick decision to go, based on terrible dialogue with his “archenemy” who is but a name on the page.
  • Marsh’s interrogation of Johnson on the road out West.  The dialogue is almost painful, as Marsh repeats the same question over and over, and Johnson retorts the same reply.
  • Johnson’s love at first sight with the girl whose real name he doesn’t know.
  • The constant back and forth between Cope and Marsh and how it was such a huge rivalry, but in the end neither played as big as a part as you would expect
  • Johnson’s character arc, which jumped and changed in linear fashion with a high slope, instead of arching with a gradual curve.

I will say I did rather enjoy Earp.  He was by far the most fascinating character and stole each scene he was in.  He’s treated as the bumbling drunk, yet he outwits pretty much everyone in this novel.

And this novel has some surprising depth hidden in the shallowness of the adventure adventure plot.  Another great quote I loved was: “… much as I hesitate to say such a thing, man becomes smaller when we realize what remarkable beasts went before us.”  Not only is it spot on accurate, but it also reflects our place in our ever growing understanding of the enormity of the universe around us.  One other quote I’ll leave you with that I particularly enjoyed: “Religion explains what man cannot explain.  But when I see something before my eyes, and my religion hastens to assure me that I am mistaken, that I do not see it at all… No, I may no longer be a Quaker, after all.”

In the end, I’m not sure I’d recommend this novel to the casual reader.  I think I’d still recommend it to other Crichton fans, just because it’s dinosaurs and the Wild West and more adventure than the novel has time to fully flush out.  It isn’t a bad story by any means – the plot has so much potential – it just isn’t the story deserving of the plot.

Now excuse me while I go reread Timeline for the hundredth time.

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4 thoughts on “Dragon Teeth

  1. All of your words true. This is a cash grab and I hope the Crichton estate at least struggled with the decision to put this out. Because, while it will please less discerning readers and maybe bring younger ones to the MC clan, it will also, if not tarnish, perhaps stain the name of one of the greatest fiction writers. Unlike you, though, I did like Micro a lot, so I wish they had brought somebody in to make this first draft read more like a finished novel.

    I had this book in my hand at Barnes & Noble, but decided instead to pick it up at the library instead. I feel bad for the die hard MC fan who spent $35 on this.

    Great review!

    https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/11227686-marcos-carvalho

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found it weird that his wife referenced bringing a new generation to Crichton’s work. If they want to do that, republish any of his amazing novels. And they’re still revamping Jurassic Park in the movies forever and forever. I agree that it’s more likely to tarnish his reputation with new readers than anything else sadly.

      I LOVED the plot of Micro, but I swear I could tell which parts he’d written and which parts the ghost writer completed. The writing was disjointed and didn’t have a complete feel across the entire novel. This one, though, suffers just as much – if not more – but from different issues.

      Was the MSRP really $35?! Wow. Bless you, library. Bless your little paper soul.

      Like

  2. Oops, my bad. It’s $35 Canadian, $29 American. Still about $24 dollars more than I’d be willing to pay for this manuscript.

    I think I had the same impression with Micro, I could tell (or think I could!) the MC parts from the RP parts, but I still thought it was way better than Prey, Pirate, Next, and State of Fear. I suffered through those dull books.

    Have you tried his earlier stuff that he wrote under a pseudonym? I’d be curious to know how it stacks up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not, but it’s on my list to do. Have you read them/if so what did you think?

      I want to go back and read State of Fear. It’s been a long while and I’ve only read it once, but I remember I loved the premise if nothing else. Micro was definitely loads above Pirates though, that one was just disappointing if I recall.

      Like

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