(1995) Michael Crichton, £5.99, pbk, 430pp, ISBN 0-099-24062-9
I did not like Jurassic Park. Crichton has this habit of moralising about science and making his characters deliberately stupid. This seems to be a cheap way of ensuring narrative tension. It is the same kind of thing that ensures at least one character in a horror movie will enter that Old Dark House. But now we have The Lost World.
Five years have passed since the events in Jurassic Park, and the participants have been legally prevented from speaking about their experiences. Despite that, strange things are happening in Costa Rica. Previously-unknown species of reptile are being discovered in the rain-forest.
Levine, a rich-kid palaeontologist, believes he has discovered a lost world - a place where the dinosaurs somehow survived. He contacts Ian Malcolm (the only character to appear in both novels) who is now an expert in mathematical biology, Together they begin to investigate.
After some searching, Malcolm realises this must be InGen's Site B, where the creatures in Jurassic Park originated. The two set out to discover Site B, along with two engineers (Thorne and Eddie), two genius kids and biologist Sarah Harding.
Close on their heels is Dodgeson, one of InGen's rivals. Dodgeson has made a career out of stealing other people's work, and now he has his eye on the secrets of Site B. Once he arrives there, things start to go wrong for everyone, and Ian Malcolm learns the truth about the re-creation of the dinosaurs.
I enjoyed this book a lot more than Jurassic Park. Crichton's speculations on things such as evolution and prions are much more interesting than some of his other works. Incidentally he gets full marks for saying that Creationism is wrong. That's pretty daring when one considers that nearly half of all Americans believe in the Book of Genesis.
Of course Crichton's book is not without its faults. Occasionally he has to slow down the action to give a quick lecture. The two kids on the trip make it easy for the characters to explain things to the reader in the guise of explaining them to the kids. On the other hand, Crichton does tackle a few problems that were left over from the last novel. For example, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park lacked the ability to produce a certain amino-acid. This problem is overcome in a neat one-liner that seems to explain everything.
I don't want to give the end away, but Crichton has certainly left the way open for another sequel. I only hope it's as good as this one.
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