One of my favorite book-reading memories ever was of the days around Christmas, 1992. I spent three or four glorious days reading Jurassic Park, initially as an AP Bio assignment and then sheer for the pleasure of it all, and my mind was blown away.
Dinosaurs! DNA! Crazy millionaires! Awesome badass mathematician (who in my mind's eye looked NOTHING like Jeff Goldblum, by the by) explaining mind-numbing concepts that were both fascinating but horrifying and yet as easy to understand as it is to watch a butterfly's flight path.
And…. VELOCIRAPTORS! Those cunning, vicious, smarter-than-you dinosaurs were my favorite but they also made me uneasy and were the stuff of nightmares: to think that it could ever be possible to bring them to life, let alone be trapped in a magnificent equatorial island with only my wits to protect me.
That book was amazing. The story was scary, but scary smart –not just some sort of Choose Your Own Adventure weak plot, nor was it some sort of detached, long-ago Gothic horror. This was all, in theory, in conjecture, possible. The movie, while awesome for many, paled in my mind to the book's rich detail and character depictions.
This is why you should read books, kids: they are SO MUCH BETTER than the movie. Except for The Devil Wears Prada, though– that book should be thanking its lucky stars it ever got made into a movie.
The scariest things come from what is possible, and what is real, and Michael Crichton knew how to weave a story that was by turns fantastic but real enough to keep the suspense going page after page.
I feel privileged to have read some of his wonderful books, and only too sad to have learned of his passing yesterday at the age of 66.
Incidentally, if you have never read any of his books and would like an introduction that is not dinosaur-related, my favorite book happens to be The Andromeda Strain.
(Pseudo-spoiler: you'll never look at a flashing light the same way again.)