The Lost World (Jurassic Park #2)

The Lost World – Michael Crichton

Six years following the secret events that occurred within Jurassic Park, rumors have been circulating that something has survived.  A brilliant and wealthy paleontologist Richard Levine, alongside Ian Malcolm, decide to assemble a team to travel to Isla Sorna, a location dubbed “Site B” off the coast of Costa Rica, so see if this “Lost World” truly exists.  However time is of the essence and Levine leaves ahead of his team in an effort to research the island before the Costa Rican government can destroy the dinosaurs.  When a message from a terrified Levine is received by his team, the group leaves for the island on short notice.

Following the monumental success of Jurassic Park, both fans as well as Stephen Spielberg pushed author Michael Crichton to write a follow-up believing that there was more story to be told and definitely more money to be made.  The idea that Crichton had come up with involved chaos theorist Ian Malcolm from the first novel, only there was a problem – he had been killed off the first go-around.  That didn’t stop Crichton though as Malcolm was resurrected and explained away his demise as merely a near-death experience.

The Lost World isn’t as good a novel as its predecessor but how could it be?  It would have taken a herculean effort to do so.  However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pretty satisfying read.  You have several hallmarks of the original in introducing a rag-tag group of good guys with science as their main objective as well as a villain who wishes only to exploit the dinosaurs for personal and professional gain.  One of the things I liked most about the protagonist and antagonist relationship is that they’re mostly kept apart throughout the story.  They’re aware of each other, but it’s only through the surveillance system and a pair of binoculars that they even know what the other ones are doing.

Before the action-packed insanity of the last 100 pages or so, Crichton does a lot of stopping and starting by injecting a few long-winded Malcolm and Levine monologues about the complex relationships between dinosaurs and the danger associated with disrupting the natural order of things.  I feel like some of the peripheral characters exist only as sounding boards in order for Malcolm and Levine to further explain things or even dumb them down for the reader.  Most of it was interesting, some of it was frustrating.

What would a book about humans interacting with dinosaurs be without some proper scary shit?  There are a handful of really great scenes where Crichton does an excellent job conveying the raw terror that comes with trying to out-think and out-maneuver the dinosaurs.  In particular, there’s a scene with one of the baddies being hunted down by a velociraptor that really took the horror up a notch.  How do you increase the danger of one Tyrannosaurus Rex in the original novel?  Well, I guess you throw in another one.  I know that sounds cheesy but it definitely worked.  Double T-Rexes certainly added some drama to several of the chase scenes.

My biggest complaint was the kids.  I just didn’t like them there, to be honest.  It almost felt like Crichton put them in there because there were kids in the original novel and he needed to have a pair here again for whatever reason.  I guess they served the plot at various points – if that was all that Crichton had intended for them.  I just kept thinking about how their parents were going to take Malcolm and Levine to the cleaners in court.

I’ve never actually seen the film adaptation, but I’ve been told that it doesn’t share much in the way of plot from this book.  Funny, considering how much Spielberg pressured Crichton to write a sequel only to pretty much ignore it.  The book itself was a fun read but I don’t think it needs to be read if you liked the original novel, however, it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for the equivalent of a blockbuster movie.  It’s the only sequel that Crichton would ever write for any of his novels; so that goes to show you how little he cared for writing series.

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