Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: Dinotopia by James Gurney

After their ship sinks in a storm, a father and son are rescued by dolphins and taken to an island. As they begin exploring, they find a strange land where humans and dinosaurs can communicate with each other and live side-by-side, in most cases peacefully. Since there seems to be no way to get off the island, the father and son begin adapting to their new home and discovering the many wonders of Dinotopia.

The vivid and exceptional art is the main draw of this book. While the inventiveness of Dinotopia is sometimes implausible, most of the time it is fascinating to look at. However, the story that ties the pictures together is weak and lacks focus, leaving the colorful pictures to carry the book.

A flaw that is even bigger than the weak story is its obsession with political correctness, so that one can hardly turn the page without being hit over the head with some sort of preachiness. Whether or not you will find the book readable will largely rely on your ability to ignore this pervasive element. Those who like dinosaurs or good art in general might find it worthwhile to just look at the pictures and ignore the text.

Content is all mild, involving mild violence, minor immodesty, and matter-of-fact references to the body waste elimination required by the dinosaurs, which is only notable because the dinosaurs are considered equal to humans. Not surprisingly, evolution is also referenced.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner


  1. I remember when there was a TV show of this. Needless to say it didn't last long due to lack of support. Great review, don't think I'll use any of my time on this.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Michael! The book had nice pictures, but the TV mini-series or whatever it was lacked even that.

  3. So if I check out this book and just want to flip through it, I shouldn't feel bad, right? ;)

    As a dinosaur lover I'm very curious about the art... not so much about the story. :) Great review!

  4. Nice review, Jonathan. :)

    I remember looking at _Dinotopia_ when I was younger. We were at someone's house and I was bored, so I looked at the picures. They are pretty.

    I saw the movie too, though when I was older I realized that parts of it promoted pantheism.

  5. Thank you, Aubrey! No, you shouldn't feel bad at all. ;) The art is worth checking out. :)

  6. Thank you, Ophelia! I read Dinotopia when I was young and it wasn't until later that I saw the issues the story had.