I really enjoyed reading Jurassic Park, I can’t say the same for The Lost World. So many things were different about this novel. While I didn’t expect it to be the same, I did expect that I would feel like it had the same tone. That it would feel like a better book. Instead The Lost World backslid. It lost the characters I was connected to, it perverted the characters I did know, and it never bothered to make me care about this new situation and the people involved. There was a loss of wonder thrown in between half rendered explanations and assumptions. Pretty much everything I ended up loving about the first book was either missing or half-cocked. Ultimately I just didn’t enjoy the experience.
Let’s start with the characters. This time around the only person returning was Ian Malcolm. You thought he was dead? No, the story retconned itself saying that he was just seriously injured. Don’t worry that’s not a spoiler because the opening pages of the story establish that Malcolm is here to stay. The rest of the characters we dealt with never felt fully developed. There was the cocky scientist who accidentally lured everyone on to the island. He was rather interesting, but never evolved from a sense of wonder and general disregard for pretty much everyone around him. There were a new set of kids, who were somewhat capable. Heck, I somehow didn’t even connect the dots that they were children until midway throught he novel, they certainly didn’t behave that way. There were some other characters roped in to the situation all to get the cocky scientist off the island. I never got attached so I never feared for their lives even when they were in peril.
The entire plot as you may have guessed from my allusions above centers around one scientist who thinks he may have discovered The Lost World, a place where dinosaurs still exist. Since this is a sequel a prior reader immediately knows this probably has to do with Hammond and his dangerous project, but how is not clarified until later. The doctor encounters the island, ends up losing contact and sending his contemporaries into a panic trying to find him fearing he is dead. Thus the entire story is about getting this damn doctor off the island. Only by the midway point, he’s already been found and they are just trying to survive. The plot is pretty basic and I just never enjoyed it much. It didn’t help that the beginning of the novel was extremely slow. It failed to build out the characters or progress action. Thus it felt extremely slow and probably could have been pared down quite a bit.
I’m probably a weirdo in that I loved the scientific explanations and theories we received in the first book. The speculation and the processes were interesting. This book since we weren’t dealing with scientists, but people who stumbled upon a situation there were more theories. That wouldn’t have bothered me if we actually had the chance to explore them. Instead what happened on a few occasions was they would begin to lay out a theory, but would then be interrupted. The theory then wouldn’t be finished until much later after it was either proved wrong or correct. I guess it’s a way of showing, but some of the debate involving the theory is lost. We don’t get to see how things work against what the character expects. It forces you to just go with the action and prevents the audience from forming their own speculation. As you know I like science fiction that lets you think. This one didn’t allow that. Also some of the explainers ended up being so bland that the build up they had made them feel like a major let down.
I’m not going to spend more time on this one, it’s pretty clear that I didn’t enjoy it. The characters were not memorable. However the biggest crime of this book is that it made me not care. It’s almost as bad as the multiple times that I thought the book was going to make a turn and suddenly get better only for it to veer back into mediocre.