Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton is one of my favorite authors. His book Timeline was one of the first books that I truly enjoyed. And years later he still remains as one of my favorite authors because not only does he write great stuff, but he also appears to be one of the best in the grounded science fiction. And it was heartbreaking when he died. After his death, there were three post humorous books released. The first was Pirate Latitudes which was great. The second book was a half-finished book found on his computer and his family hired another writer to finish it. This book was Micro and the method used to finish it resulted in a pretty terrible novel. And lastly was a final book called Dragon Teeth, which supposedly was another unfinished book found on his computer and after reading Micro I was afraid to read this. I was afraid that it would be a repeat of Micro. I was afraid disappointment. But even though I had a bad feeling, I had to give it a read, hoping this book would be a beautiful swan song for Crichton legacy and not a cash grab. So here is my review of Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton.
So what is it about? Well it follows a rich college student name William Johnson in 1875. He is a rich boy wasting his life. Then one day, his friend bluntly tells Johnson he wouldn't survive any hardships, especially in the wild west. Angry, Johnson wants him prove him wrong and joins the paleontology professor on a trip out west to dig up dinosaur bones. With this bet, Johnsen signs up as the only position left, as a photographer, even though he know nothing about photography. He studies up on photography as fast as he can to pass for one on the trip, but the paleontology professor Marsh is paranoid. Soon Marsh learns Johnson hometown is the same one Cope (his competitor) is from and believes Johnson to be a spy. And soon he abandons Johnson in a small western town in the middle of nowhere.
From there on out, Johnson finds himself in the paleontology war where Cope and Marsh are literally trying to kill each other. Also the Sioux Indians are on a warpath and he must fight for his life. He must have shootouts with outlaws and makes an unlikely friendship with Wyatt Earp as he makes a huge paleontology discovery. And most importantly he must find a way to get back home alive.
The good? This book is one fun read. It’s a western odyssey built upon the foundation of the paleontology wars of the 1880’s. And that is an amazing pocket of time to explore. These scientist were poisoning each other’s water, blowing up camp sites and trying to get each other killed so only one could the fame and glory. It was a crazy fascinating series of events in the old west, that no one ever talks about. It’s just great to see this explored. Also though Johnson is a shallow rich boy character at the beginning he grows into a likable character. He has an interesting fish out of water, survival of fittest character arc. It does seem to meander at first, but it all pays off triumphantly.
The bad? The book has strange chunks, where the chapters breakaway into journal entries to explain the following scene. I feel that this was the answer to sewing up the unfinished parts of the book. Crichton's wife pulled this novel together from my understanding, so I can imagine those parts being written by anyone mildly talented in writing to fill in the blanks. Though it’s a little distracting, it is done well. The book also abruptly ends, though its done well enough. Then lastly this is a historically accurate tale about the old west told from the point of view of a young rich white man in the 1880s. So yes, even though the plight of and horrors against the Native Americans is addressed and Johnson even befriends one at a point, they are viewed as savages by most of the main cast. It reflects how these people were treated and viewed in this point of history, holding true to the historical accuracy of the time. Even though that this is one of the darker elements of American history, it should go without saying that if you're sensitive about these issues be prepared. I am only bringing this up because some people seem unaware of the dark side of history, so I am including this in the bad section for those individuals.
Overall, this is a great book to end Crichton’s legacy on. It’s classic Crichton reminding me of the great tales I grew up with. Reading this was like getting hug from an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time. It was a joy to read. It’s a fun unique western that is totally worth your time.
5 smoothies out of Five
Overall Rating: A Fantastic Finale in a Legacy Left Behind by Michael Crichton.