April 27, 2012

Book: The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:49 pm

This is my first Michael Chrichton book. It was really interesting, not just to read the book by itself for the story but also to get a feel for the author’s style and angle. Michael has written a large number of books where he brings his own unique style to the plot and storytelling. Even though I may be sticking my neck way out there trying to judge the author on the basis of a single book, I tried to do just that, while reading this book.

The story should be familiar to almost everybody, at least in its outline. It is the second part of the Jurassic Park series, and has been made into a film by Steven Spielberg. This continues the story of what happened to an island in Costa Rica following the fiasco described in the first part of the book, the Jurassic Park, and why it happened.

The book is significantly different from the movie in storyline. Apart from that, even in the parts where they are the same, it is a completely different experience. More on this later.

The story involves Ian Malcolm, the scientist who features in the first book, who is firmly convinced that he has put the whole sorry saga of dinosaur-breeding firmly behind him, and is off into his research world.

Richard Levine, who is convinced from reports heard earlier that some dinosaurs may have survived in Isla Sorna, an island next to the main island featured in Jurassic Park, tries to go there but the Costa Rican authorities send him back before he can get anything but a small piece of flesh of the dead animal. He orders an expedition with a large amount of custom built equipment, but sneaks back with an assistant, to take a closer look. What he finds is that he is completely unprepared. Losing his assistant, he himself faces death by savage, carnivorous, beasts.

Before he leaves, he convinces Ian Malcolm of the existing threat, and Malcolm assembles a team consisting of scientists Eddie, and Doc Thorne, and leaves for the island. Two kids, who assist Malcolm and Levine in their research, join the team as stowaways, in the mistaken assumption that the team is going out to a palaeontology site to dig for bones of long dead specimens.

When they arrive there, they reach an island full of free and wild roaming dinasaurs. This is the secret `Site B’, which served as the factory site for the other, `showcase‘ island featured in the Jurassic Park book.  Eric Hodgeson hears of this through his private network and sets out to the same island, with the intent of bringing back some eggs at least.

Ian Malcolm contacts Sarah Harding and asks her to join him. When she arrives, she teams up with Dodgson who throws her overboard half way down to the isle…

Then things get worse!

Well, the story is interesting. In the movie, you are too busy watching the dinosaurs to pay much attention to the dialog, except enough to follow the story. Here in the book, you are immersed in the scientific discussions and arguments that are presented, many of which are fascinating. It is not a heavyweight story – though Michael Crichton always takes basic scientific research (in this case, on DNA) and takes them farther in his imagination, and though he always presents his arguments in a really interesting scientific way, backed up by scientific facts, ultimately, his books are thrillers, meant to keep you turning the pages until the end. There are absurd Hollywood like behaviour (children as stowaways, kids solving technology puzzles that would defeat even experts in real life, scientists behaving either like James Bond clones or as completely irresponsible individuals in the face of obvious danger, to name just a few) and so do not expect a serious story with real-world-like behaviour from almost any of the characters that populate this novel!

In addition, in this book at least, there is a creature that is described (in the night, even Tyrannosaurus Rex avoids moving into its territory because of its nature) that is not in the movie. For those of you who plan to read this book, I do not want to give anything away, and so will refrain from discussing this further.

But it is an enjoyable ride, like the one that Wilbur Smith or Sydney Sheldon provides, but with some intellectual science thrown in for good measure. (I hesitate to compare him to Dan Brown because this is a completely different sort of story.

I would say I can give it a 7/10

— Krishna


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