Book Review: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

If you didn’t know – like the big kid I am – I absolutely adore all things Dinosaurs. Admittedly my interest hasn’t spread out into much more than simply reading up about them and watching films/documentaries about them. But either way – I love these enormous, dangerous creatures that lived millions of years ago.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
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That’s why, when I saw The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte on sale on Amazon, I just had to pick it up. In all honesty, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was purchasing, I’d just seen it was a celebrated book and had quite an appealing front cover.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is actually a non-fictional telling of the… well… the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. Steve Brusatte, a celebrated Palaeontologist, tells us how they came to be, their stardom in culture and their eventual decline.

Plot – 5/5

If you’re a fan of dinosaurs or even history, I’d highly recommend The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. Steve Brusatte takes us chronologically from the beginning of life on this planet to the first dinosaurs to then the dominance of the dinosaurs for hundreds of millions of years and then their eventual extinction. Along the way, he introduces us to fellow Dinosaur-lovers, palaeontologists, educates us on the science behind their findings, tells tales of dinosaur findings and is brutally honest on things they simply haven’t worked out yet.

It’s a fantastic book that had me hooked throughout. Brusatte has a way of explaining these technical terms (the changing of the environment to accommodate new species, how evolution works and how they work out species and how old dinosaurs etc) in a way that makes it easy for us to understand. He essentially uses the method of ‘we use *insert term here* and this is simply when *this is happening* which really makes you feel like you’re learning these methods as you read.

An aspect I found interesting about this novel is that this is a true scientist writing a book about dinosaurs from the very most recent findings and understandings. This means there may be a lot in this book that you didn’t know or have been led to misbelieve. If you don’t learn anything from reading this book then I’d argue you know enough to become a dinosaur expert yourself.

But how do you rate the plot of nonfiction? Well, instead I’ve decided to rate this based on three elements: how interested Brusatte keeps you hooked, the human stories he chooses to tell and the open writing style he uses. Hence the five out of five rating.

Characters – 4/5

How do you review the characters of a nonfiction novel when none of them are fictional? Well, I thought in this section I’d discuss some of the character choices Brusatte chooses to make.

So throughout the novel Brusatte switches between telling us the facts of the dinosaurs and real-tale events of people he’s met or stories he’s heard of dinosaur findings and fellow palaeontologists. There’s nobody in this novel who feels wasted. Everybody he introduces either discovered something fascinating about dinosaurs or was one of the reasons we know so much about them today.

There are some really interesting characters in this book – some of whom even Brusatte thinks you won’t believe exist. The world of palaeontology is much larger than you think and with such a scientific (and let’s face it – nerdy) alumni, it’s always going to bring with it some quite eccentric and interesting people.

Summary – 5/5

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte is bloody brilliant. Am I just saying this because I’m a dinosaur fan? Well isn’t there a certain aspect to fictional books that we much prefer reading genres that pique our interest? This could have easily been a boring information dump of a book. However, the way Brusatte describes events incorporates human stories and the speed with which he progresses through the timeline of events is brilliant.

If you’re a history or a dinosaur fan, I’d definitely recommend The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs or even if you’re not but enjoy educating yourself, it’s definitely worth a read.

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