Released: May 23rd 2017
Dragon Teeth isn’t like most of Crichton’s later works. Perhaps that’s the reason it wasn’t published before he passed? I’m not sure. I still greatly enjoyed reading it though, I would just like to ward readers that it’s more history focused than the Jurassic Park books were; and that all the dinosaurs in the book are fossils and not living, breathing creatures. It’s really closer to being a story about the Wild West than anything.
I just want to say real quick that I truly do believe this was written by Crichton, with perhaps a bit of polishing to make it ready for publishing. It reads like a Crichton novel, regardless of the year it was published. I’ve heard of other author’s stating that there will be books published after they pass (most notably Stephen King) so the concept isn’t that odd to me anymore.
Michael Crichton brought the feud between Charles Marsh and Edwin Drinker Cope to life in this fascinating read about a boy getting pulled into something far bigger than him. William gets pulled around and endangered thanks to the bad blood, which until recently he knew nothing about. If it didn’t have fatal consequences, it’d actually be quite hilarious. I’ll be honest here – I didn’t know much about Mark or Cope before I read this, but after seeing them come alive on the pages I couldn’t resist looking them up a bit more. So if you’re curious about the history of paleontology, but are nervous about getting started reading up on it, this may be a good way to get your feet wet.
I’m aware that many people do not enjoy revisionist history, and those that are truly opposed to it should probably stay clear of Dragon Teeth. I didn’t find it terribly heavy handed, but I also didn’t know much about the people or specific events either, so take that advice with a grain of salt.
The whole story started when spoiled William got himself into a bet that he would go West with Marsh’s crew. Determined to win the bet, William learns photography so he can accompany the team as their official photographer. The dedication he commits to learning the craft actually succeeded in endearing him in my mind, and showed that clearly the boy just needed a driving focus in his life.
Shortly after departing does William learn how paranoid Marsh is – but it isn’t until he’s abandoned under the assumption that he’s a spy does it truly sink in. One would expect the story to end here, but by pure chance (or is it?) Cope picks up the boy for his team, allowing him to continue his journey. From here is when the intensity really spikes up, with threats/attacks from Native Americans, attempts at sabotage, and a whole litany of other disasters.
The namesake of the novel, Dragon Teeth, were a collection of fossilized teeth William and Cope found together. So naturally they caused no end of trouble for poor William.
I truly enjoyed watching William grow as a person throughout the story. He started off as a spoiled rich boy that didn’t understand the concept of not getting what he wanted, and ended up being a man that knew what was right and wrong. The juxtaposition to the character Marsh made it all the more evident (Marsh being a man that appears to never have grown out of his ways, and at least in the novel never sought to right any of his wrongs).