The Lost World (Crichton novel)
First edition cover
|Cover artist||Chip Kidd|
|September 8, 1995|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|LC Class||PS3553.R48 L67 1995b|
|Preceded by||Jurassic Park|
The Lost World is a techno thriller novel written by Michael Crichton and published in 1995 by Knopf. A paperback edition (ISBN 0-345-40288-X) followed in 1996. It is a sequel to his earlier novel Jurassic Park. In 1997, both novels were re-published as a single book titled Michael Crichton's Jurassic World, unrelated to the 2015 film of the same name.
Six years after the disaster at Jurassic Park, chaos theorist and mathematician Ian Malcolm - who is revealed to have survived the events of the previous novel, despite being declared dead in the epilogue - teams up with paleontologist Richard Levine to search for a "lost world" of dinosaurs following rumors of strange animal corpses washing up on the shores of Costa Rica. They eventually learn of Site B on Isla Sorna, the "production facility" where the now-defunct company InGen hatched and grew the dinosaurs for their Jurassic Park theme park on nearby Isla Nublar.
Afraid that the Costa Rican government will find Isla Sorna and destroy the dinosaurs, Levine hastily embarks on an expedition to the island without Malcolm, who eventually learns that Levine has gone missing there. Malcolm goes to the island with a rescue team consisting of Jack "Doc" Thorne, an engineer and retired university professor; Eddie Carr, Thorne's assistant; and two stowaway children, R.B. "Arby" Benton and Kelly Curtis, who were working as Levine's research assistants as part of a school project.
The group arrives on the island with weapons and a conjoined pair of RV trailers that serve as a mobile laboratory. They find a geothermal-powered complex of abandoned InGen buildings, including a worker village, and a laboratory that the group explores. They eventually find Levine, who is overjoyed at the trove of information he can glean from this "lost world". Simultaneously, another group - geneticists Lewis Dodgson, Howard King and "celebrity" biologist, George Baselton - learns of Levine's expedition and go to Isla Sorna with plans to steal dinosaur eggs for Biosyn, the rival company of InGen responsible for the sabotage that lead to the Jurassic Park disaster. Dr. Sarah Harding, an animal behaviorist and former lover of Malcolm, is traveling with them. Dodgson attempts to kill her, shoving her off the boat, but she survives.
Levine and Malcolm make many observations of the dinosaurs' behavior from the "high hide", an enclosed blind that is set above the ground on scaffolding. They soon learn that Dodgson's group has arrived on the island. Dodgson's group is attacked by a pair of Tyrannosaurus as they try to steal eggs from the animals' nest, resulting in Baselton's death. Dodgson and King become separated after the attack.
While inspecting the T. rex nest, Malcolm finds that one of the infants had been injured and has a broken leg. He instructs Eddie to kill it because it has no chance of surviving in the wild. Unbeknownst to the group, Eddie refuses to kill the injured animal and brings it back to the trailers. When the group discovers the animal, Malcolm and Harding begrudgingly agree to set and cast its leg while the rest of the group returns to the high hide. As night approaches, the nocturnal Velociraptors emerge from the jungle and kill King. As Malcolm and Harding finish setting the T. rex's leg, the parents come looking for their infant and attack the trailers, pushing one of them over a cliff and injuring Malcolm. Thorne rescues Malcolm and Harding, while the raptors attack the high hide and kill Eddie. Arby is momentarily taken hostage by the raptors but is rescued. The group later takes refuge from the raptors in the general store of the InGen worker village. The group attempts to formulate a plan to reach the landing site where the helicopter is set to meet them in the morning. When Thorne ventures out into the village to search for fuel, he survives an encounter with a pair of chameleon-like Carnotaurus.
The next morning, Dodgson is confronted by Harding, who exacts her revenge by pushing him out from under a car where both are hiding from a T. rex. Dodgson is maimed and fed to its infants, while Harding sets out to reach the helicopter before it can take off without the group, but she is too late. The group then discovers a boat docked on the island. As the group sails away, Malcolm reveals information that he discovered in the laboratory: during Site B's active years, InGen fed the young carnivorous dinosaurs sheep extract infected with prions, which causes a disease that shortens the dinosaurs' life spans. Although the scientists contained the disease, it began to spread once again after they abandoned the island. Malcolm suspects that the disease will lead to the eventual extinction of the dinosaurs on Isla Sorna.
After the publication of Jurassic Park in 1990, Crichton was pressured by fans to write a sequel. Following the success of Jurassic Park's film adaptation in 1993, director Steven Spielberg became interested in making a sequel film. Crichton had never written a sequel to any of his novels before, and was initially hesitant to do so. Crichton said a sequel was "a very difficult structural problem because it has to be the same but different; if it's really the same, then it's the same—and if it's really different, then it's not a sequel. So it's in some funny intermediate territory." In March 1994, Crichton said there would probably be a sequel novel as well as a film adaptation, stating that he had an idea for the novel's story.
Despite the character of Ian Malcolm dying in the first novel, Crichton chose to bring him back for the sequel: "Malcolm came back because I needed him. I could do without the others, but not him because he is the 'ironic commentator' on the action. He keeps telling us why it will go bad. And I had to have him back again." Bringing a dead character back was an idea Crichton got from Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes, who had been killed off but was later brought back. Malcolm was also considered a favorite character among readers of the first novel and people who watched its film adaptation. An early draft of the novel included a lengthy tirade by Malcolm regarding God and evolution, but Crichton removed it "because it just didn't seem to fit."
In March 1995, Crichton announced that he was nearly finished writing the novel, with a scheduled release for later that year. At the time, Crichton declined to specify the novel's title or plot. Crichton later stated that the novel's title is an homage to Doyle's 1912 novel of the same name, as well as a 1925 film adaptation of Doyle's novel, also titled The Lost World. Crichton's novel also shares some story similarities with Doyle's novel, as they both involve an expedition to an isolated Central American location where dinosaurs roam. However, in Crichton's novel, the dinosaurs were recreated by genetic engineering, rather than surviving from antiquity. The Lost World was the only sequel Crichton ever wrote.
The Lost World spent eight weeks as number one on the New York Times Best Seller List, from October 8, 1995, to November 26, 1995, and remained on the list as late as March 1996.
Susan Toepfer of People magazine wrote, "Action-packed and camera-ready, The Lost World is to its predecessor what microwave dinners are to home-cooked meals: hardly authentic, but in a pinch fully satisfying." Toepfer wrote that "the odd reappearance of Ian Malcolm, when other key characters from the original have been dropped, makes one wonder if only Jeff Goldblum was available to appear in the movie sequel. But even at his most calculating—incorporating two urchins, crafting a feminist hero—the author pleases. Characteristically clever, fast-paced and engaging, Michael Crichton's latest work accomplishes what he set out to do: offer the still-harrowing thrills of a by-now-familiar ride."
Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times gave the novel a negative review and called it a "tired rehash" of Jurassic Park. Kakutani wrote that the novel lacked the "surprise or ingenuity" of its predecessor, calling it "so predictable and unimaginative that it seems to have been intended to save special-effects technicians the hassle of doing new work on the movie sequel." Kakutani said the novel represented "a new low" in Crichton's "attention to character," and criticized the character of Ian Malcolm in particular: "Except for complaining about the injuries he suffered in 'Jurassic Park,' Malcolm makes virtually no reference to his previous visit to dino-land [...]. Instead of even making a half-hearted attempt to turn Malcolm into a reasonable facsimile of a person, Mr. Crichton cynically uses him as a mouthpiece for all sorts of portentous techno-babble about chaos theory, extinction theories and mankind's destructive nature. As for the other characters, they are each given handy labels for easy identification."
Tom De Haven of Entertainment Weekly gave the novel a "B-" rating and wrote that it "is like a videogame in prose — a few hundred frantic pages of run, hide, kill, and die. Over and over again." De Haven criticized the lack of characterization and wrote that Crichton was "clearly off his stride here, right from the start. Without any need to build scientific plausibility into the plot (he did that last time, beautifully), Crichton seems unengaged by his own material, distanced from it, and his cautionary lectures about extinction and natural selection seem halfhearted attempts to legitimize his return to familiar territory. But if there's a lack of freshness to the novel (even the title isn't new; it's borrowed from the granddaddy of all dinosaur tales, by Arthur Conan Doyle), it is still a very scary read."
De Haven felt that the novel's opening chapters were "rushed and contrived. Although it's perhaps a deliberate, affectionate nod to the old let's-get-going-so-we-can-get-to-the-good-parts kind of storytelling that was such a staple of 1950s monster movies, it's still cheesy. [...] No matter how feeble the premise, though, or how shallow the characterizations, I wouldn't dream of talking anybody out of reading the novel. For clarity, terror, and sheer grisliness, the action far surpasses anything in the original book; even better, the suspense is masterfully stretched out, then released all of a sudden — just when you least expect it." De Haven concluded that its predecessor "has earned a secure place for itself in the history of popular American literature. The Lost World, at best, will be a footnote. But still, it made my palms sweat."
Neal Karlen of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Crichton "has done the sequel step just right, keeping the tropes of the earlier novel familiar for the fans while changing the ideas and story line enough to keep even his severest and most envious critics turning the pages to find out what happens next." Karlen noted that, "Once again, the dinosaurs seem the real stars," while writing that the human characters "are introduced as if in shorthand screenplay form". Karlen especially praised the novel's raptors, calling them "seemingly meaner, more loathsome, and once again better developed than almost all of the book's human characters."
The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a 1997 science fiction film and sequel to Jurassic Park, loosely based on Crichton's novel. The film was a commercial success, breaking many box-office records when released. It has a number of plot differences from the novel and incorporates scenes from the first novel that were not previously filmed. The film received mixed reviews, however.
Dinosaurs featured in the novel
(In order of appearance)
- Dryosaurus ("twenty medium-sized dark-green dinosaurs")
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