The Lost World
I first read this book around 1996. I reread this in 2020, and my memory of the book had long been overridden by the Lost World movie, which has a little in common with this book. I also read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World (from 1912) right before rereading this book, and Lost World Jurassic Park is thankfully much less racist than that one.
This sequel to Jurassic Park was not as exciting or as fun as the original Jurassic Park, but it was still good. The plot focuses on several scientists/teachers/professors: Thorne, a wealthy retired professor who now builds highly complex RVs, Richard Levine, a paleontologist, Sarah Harding, a carnivorous animal behavior specialist of some sort, and Ian Malcolm, who we all thought was killed off in the original Jurassic Park (or at least that is what JP book says), but has somehow recovered and is now back to being a mathematics professor. The book also has two children tag along, perhaps as an effort to convince parents that the future movie version of Lost World was family friendly and meant for kids, Arby and Kelly. Past me might have said the kids are annoying and shouldn’t be included, but I actually found that the kids were fine and once again ended up being the much needed computer experts. I especially liked Arby, who has a complicated childhood as an only child with professional yet mostly absentee parents. (Your mileage may vary – the movie version of kids I think was rolled into one child who may or may not have been a little annoying. The kids in the book were fine with me.)
The plot focuses on Thorne, Malcolm, and Eddie Carr, an engineer, (and the kids, hiding in the RV) traveling to Isla Sorna (Site B) to rescue Dr. Levine. Sarah Harding shows up a few hours later, to join in the rescue attempt, by hitching a ride with geneticist Lewis Dodgson (the guy who was trying to steal the Dino embryos in the first Jurassic Park book). Dodgson, along with two other colleagues, is still trying to get his own dinos by stealing eggs.
Site B was the breeding laboratory for dinosaurs that were then transferred to Jurassic Park, and like most things involving genetics, there was a lot of trial and error before getting things right. This site was abandoned after the whole InGen was shut down after the every of Jurassic Park, and many dinosaurs got out and are now living and breeding on the island (this is background, not part of the actual book plot, although I would read that book).
The plot mostly focuses on a.) finding Dr. Levine, b.) studying the behavior of dinosaurs in the “wild”, c.) understanding what is causing the dinos to act more erratic than usual , d.) surviving, and e.) not being killed off by “the bad guys”. The bad guys were never really a threat to anyone except Sarah Harding on the boat, and unlike the movie, there wasn’t a whole troop of guys with guns trying to kill the dinosaurs, mostly just Dodgson, who was trying to steal eggs.
Since I’ve just read A.C. Doyle’s Lost World, I would like to mention that Crichton’s Lost World has many more dinosaurs, fewer highly problematic “ape-men” (none), and was a whole lot less racist. I thought Isla Sorna having sheer cliffs making an entrance or exit to the island hazardous was similar to Doyle’s Lost World plateau, but there were not that many similarities between the two. The only small criticism for this book is that the ending seemed anti-climatic to me. There are no big discoveries (other than prion disease, which I had no idea what I prion was when I was 15-16 years old reading this book, but I do now), no big resolutions. This book did not seem that suspenseful, and I was never that worried for most of the protagonists, but that might be because I’ve already read this book and seen the movie.
All the familiar dinosaurs from Jurassic Park are back – T-rexes, hadrosaurs, velociraptors, triceratops, as well as a pair of camouflaging predators that can match their backgrounds like chameleons or octopi. Is this a feature of the Indominous Rex in Jurassic World? I’m not sure.
Lost World Jurassic Park was fun, escapism fiction for me, and I’m glad I reread it. I struggle with some of Crichton’s later works, when scientists somehow are always the “bad guys”, climate-change denial runs rampant (State of Fear), evil scientists are working on human-chimp hybrids (Next), and I don’t even remember what scientists did wrong in Micro, only that almost all of them were killed off in horrific ways. Those books turned me off to Crichton’s work in general. But, after rereading this one, I think I might continue my reread of Michael Crichton. The two Jurassic Park novels may well be the first science fiction books I ever read, and I have a special place in my heart for these two books.