Saturday, 25 August 2012

Review: Jurassic Park - The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Book cover of The Lost World by Michael Crichton
I'm not sure why, but I always firmly believed that only the first Jurassic Park film originated from a book and the rest were all the product of money-grabbing movie producers. Not so. Well, only half-so anyway. The Lost World is a book penned by the same author as the first, but only at the not-so-gentle prompting of Hollywood. As a result, Michael Crichton had to reverse some decisions made in the first book and... uh, it don't work so well.

May contain spoilers for the first Jurassic Park book EVEN IF YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM!

Plot summary - It is now six years since the secret disaster at Jurassic Park, six years since that extraordinary dream of science and imagination came to a crashing end — the dinosaurs destroyed, the park dismantled, the island indefinitely closed to the public. There are rumors that something has survived.

So I loved the first book - you can read my Jurassic Park review, if you're interested. You should be. It's an awesome book. Unfortunately it's pain-stakingly obvious that Michael Crichton didn't foresee the existence of The Lost World when he wrote it, as quite a bit of this one ends up contradicting the other in many vaguely irksome ways.

Okay, so Ian Malcolm died in the previous book. Died. Dead. Gone. And yet somehow here he is, right as rain and is somehow willing to return to that god-damned island, which you would clearly not do if you had previously died there, for a number of reasons (one of which being your previously mentioned state of non-living). And no, I didn't misunderstand the end of Jurassic Park - it mentioned the disposal of his corpse, for God's sake. Apparently we're just meant to kind of run with it though, as it's brushed aside and not really ever explained.

Not that a whole lot is, really. Even Dr. Malcolm seems confused a lot of the time. He never really seemed to understand what was going on, even though he was the only person in the damned place who should have. Also, it took me at least half the book to work out whether they were on the same island as before or a different one - to prevent your own bafflement should you read The Lost World, they're on a different island that was used as kind of a test site before they made the proper Jurassic Park. Conveniently nobody knew about its existence and it was overlooked when the other one was destroyed by the government. Well, except Ian Malcolm, who is not only not dead but also miraculously knows all this just a few minutes after being completely clueless even to the dinosaurs.

Once again though, Michael Crichton has clearly done his research. He has a degree in biological anthropology from Harvard University, which explains the scientific depth of this novel and its predecessor. For a book of this genre, it really goes out of its way to educate you about certain evolutionary theories and extinction concerns. Although it can be a little disconcerting when the first few pages contain solely heavy scientific theory and not dinosaur attacks, I soon got into the swing of it and ended up learning quite a bit.

This one is even more different to the movie than Jurassic Park was, although it's not necessarily a bad thing. The whole contrived dinosaur-in-the-city thing is missing, thankfully, and certain characters (like Vince Vaughn's) don't even exist. There are two children, not one, neither of which is the offpsring of Dr. Malcolm. There's also a whole new layer to the story as the group have to deal with a rival scientific firm on the island, intent on stealing its secrets and the transport of our heroes.

All in all, it's worth reading but it lacks the atmosphere of panic and sheer terror of the first book. It's a little clunky with reincarnated characters and sudden revelations popping up instantly in their heads. Don't expect the ingenuity of Jurassic Park, but it's a reasonably well-written sci-fi novel.

Read my review of Jurassic Park or visit Michael Crichton's website here.  


  1. Hmm, the contradictions would be very annoying for me, I think. I LOVE the first film but haven't read the book, I think I'll stick to just that one.

  2. I didn't realise this was a book either! I think I'll skip it, I remember Jurassic Park (the book) terrifying me and don't want to water that down.


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