The Lost World

by Michael Crichton

Sequel to Jurassic Park. It was a surprisingly slow read. I never got more than two or three chapters before setting it down again (and they’re relatively short). Realized why near the end. The characters are all very flat. The suspense doesn’t feel real- even when the “bad guys” were getting eaten by dinosuars, and the people you’re supposed to root for, terrified for their lives, I didn’t have much feeling for what was happening. I was more interested in the questions about what they observed of dinosaur behavior, and the scientific discussions and lectures by some characters on group behavior and extinction theory, so I read those parts carefully, but then the actual character parts and action on the island felt dull.

It is so different from the movie. Not sure which one I prefer. In the book, this second island isn’t a rescue place to save some of the dinosaurs after Jurassic Park was destroyed, instead it’s been there all along, it was where the entrepreneurs bred and raised the dinosaurs- with lots of trial and error. There’s not a team of men going after dinosaurs for what appears to be macho trophy hunting as in the movie, instead there’s just two groups- a scientist Levine who comes to the island on his own, eager to see what’s gong on there for himself, then Ian Malcom and a few others plus two kids who tag along/stowaway. They come to rescue Levine when he gets into trouble, but then he doesn’t want to leave, so they all start studying the dinosaurs, trying to get answers to some questions. Why is their behavior erratic? what clues does it give to the extinction that happened so long ago? But the other group arrives intending to steal eggs, with some wacky scheme to raise dinosaurs (presumably small) as lab animals for research, thinking that because they’re created from ancient patched-together DNA, nobody can claim they have rights as sentient animals. (This detail is easy to miss in the narrative). So they want to steal eggs and exploit dinosaurs. Their interference is making dinosaurs act protective and more aggressive, putting everyone at risk. Happily the bad guys one by one get chomped by dinosaurs, the first team mostly escapes unharmed, though oddly Malcom once again is badly injured and zoned out on painkillers for the latter half of the book. And the kids’ ingenuity with figuring out computer systems once again saves the day.

So a lot of ideas and even scenes just felt rehashed from the first book. But I actually found the events and discussions in this one more interesting than the movie version, though it’s not nearly as thrilling which is probably why they changed so much.

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 3/5
416 pages, 2012

One Response

  1. Crichton is one of those guys I never really enjoyed much despite having read several of his books. He kept me coming back because he was the master of coming up with a good hook, but his writing, as you say, was always very flat to me. It was almost like he was writing with a movie version in mind from the front page.

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