The Lost World

Not quite as spectacular as the first entry… but still a lot of fun.

Assumed audience: Readers of sci-fi or thrillers or both — including folks who have read this before (it deserves a good re-read!).

cover for The Lost World
The Lost World, Michael Crichton (1995)
Crichton’s sequel to Jurassic Park is another good thriller… but doesn’t quite measure up to the original.

After reading Jurassic Park and profoundly enjoying it, I decided to pick up the sequel. Published four years later, The Lost World picks up a few years after the events of the first book and engages in similarly-thriller-style exploits with dinosaurs on an island. The Lost World is a lot of fun — very nearly as much fun as the original — but it isn’t quite as thoughtful or as original.

The book is, in many ways, a perfect example of the kinds of things that are both good and bad about so many sequels. It pokes and prods at questions the first book raised for an attentive reader — really, at gaps in the world as built by Crichton originally! — and it provides an opportunity to see a couple of the characters from the first book again. It’s fun, and Crichton’s thriler chops are just as strong. The downside, though, is that the sequel ends up riffing on the same themes rather than introducing new ideas. As a result, it just isn’t quite as fresh, and a few of the characters’ tics end up being particularly stale. I ended up thinking I’ve seen this bit before a few times.

I’m glad I read it, in any case, even if Crichton didn’t quite manage to match the original. (And hey, at least he didn’t make the mistake the movie franchise did: let’s never, ever speak of the film of The Lost World, with its absurd tyrannosaurus attack on San Diego at the end.)