Friday, July 15, 2022

The Lost World (Crichton)

The Lost World (Jurassic Park, #2)The Lost World by Michael Crichton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first and only literary sequel to the late Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park opens with mention that the late twentieth century experienced a significant growth in scientific interest regarding the subject of extinction, with 99.9% of all species that ever existed meeting the fate. In the prologue that follows, chaos theorist Ian Malcolm notes that too much change in any given area is just as destructive as too little, with one of his students entertaining the notion of a “lost world” where dinosaurs still exist. Also sharing the belief that dinosaurs still exist is Richard Levine, although despite his own experiences, Malcolm denies the InGen incident of the previous novel.

Similar to how he divided Jurassic Park, Crichton organized its sequel in specially-named sections, in this book’s case “configurations” that show more complex shapes as the novel progresses. The First Configuration opens with Levine and his partner Marty Gutierrez going to Costa Rica, the former obsessed with past scientific history. On a beach they discover a carcass that leads Levine to speculate its species, although soldiers order its incineration. Levine ultimately travels to an island whose cliffside he climbs, after which he discovers three-toed footprints. In the meantime, seventh-graders Kelly and Arby work for Dr. Thorne, who finds that Levine is in danger.

The Second Configuration opens with Thorne, Arby, and Kelly visiting Levine’s apartment, where they discover he had purchased an InGen computer. Crichton notes the changing history of the public’s general perspective of dinosaurs, first as the “terrible lizards” that caused them to get their name, then as “gentle giants” in the latter portion of the twentieth century. Animal expert Sarah Harding, working on the African savannah, gets a call from Dr. Thorne and joins the other characters in the Americas. Furthermore, Ian Malcolm’s office is broken into, with further mention of the Biosyn Corporation’s goal to exploit dinosaurs for commercial gain.

The Third Configuration begins with the expedition party heading to Isla Sorna, where dinosaurs have appeared, off the coast of Costa Rica, with the group arming themselves in case they encounter the carnivorous among the allegedly-extinct animals. Arby and Kelly manage to stow away on the trip, and find more than they bargained for when they think they glimpse a tyrannosaur. In the meantime, the adults find and enter a derelict manufacturing plant, analyzing its computer database, with the mastermind of reviving the dinosaurs, Henry Wu, receiving mention, along with John Hammond, who had before the resurrection of the dinosaurs had done so for the extinct equine quagga.

In the Fourth Configuration, experts Lewis Dodgson and George Baselton discuss whether to publish their discoveries and go to Isla Sorna themselves, ultimately selecting the latter option. Crichton occasionally injects factoids into the novel regarding things such as the long necks of giraffes and that after great environmental cataclysms, extinction of affected species tended to occur millennia or even millions of years afterward. Sarah Harding in the meanwhile is en route via ship to Isla Sorna, although storms cause her to go overboard and fight for her life. The subsection ends with the science assistance Eddie stealing an infant tyrannosaur.

The Fifth Configuration begins with said purloined dinosaur baby receiving medical treatment for its injuries, with Thorne yearning to take Arby and Kelly to a part of the island known as the “high hide” to view the creatures safely. Dodgson eventually reaches the island and comes under attack, seeking shelter in an abandoned shed. As the infant t-rex receives treatment, one of its parents approaches the interconnected series of trailers, which consequentially come under attack, with those within finding themselves fighting for their lives. A helicopter to take the expedition members to safety is around five hours away, with the party making it a point to leave the island.

The Sixth Configuration commences with Sarah and Kelly escaping the dinosaurs on a motorcycle, the two attempting to impede the animals’ progress by shooting at them, although among the other members of the party, Thorne and Levine find themselves without firepower. The escapees reach an abandoned worker village, where they find brief solace from the danger, not to mention food, with Dodgson serving as something as an antagonist in the novel. The raptors continue to prove the greatest danger to the humans, with the tyrannosaur having its share of the action in the final moments.

Overall, The Lost World is just as great a classic among dinosaur-related fiction as its predecessor, with countless moments and characters not present in the film adaptation and general explicit direction on how the story advances, and plenty of good action. Ian Malcolm continues to prove to be an awesome character, entertaining the idea of intellectual diversity in addition to other kinds as a form of survival for the human race. As with the first book, however, it’s generally up to the reader’s imagination as to how the characters look, and Crichton could have picked an alternate name for his story since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used it (such as Beyond Jurassic Park), but otherwise, this sequel is highly recommended.

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