The Lost World by Michael Crichton fulfilled half of the “Two Books that Share the Same Title” category of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. I also read The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well. See the previous blog post for a stellar review on that story.
Time to compare and contrast. I’m reaching deep for those sixth-grade writing skills.
The Lost World by Mr. Crichton is a sequel to Jurassic Park, a runaway bestseller in the mid-nineties. I remember the book’s release. My boyfriend at the time was a biology major working for a certain Dr. Berg. She had a lab sequencing DNA back in 1995. When the book came out, she threw together a summer course to discuss the veracity of the plot. The boyfriend took the course. I refused to read the novel.
Twenty years later, I read Jurassic Park and chose The Lost World for this category. I could not have chosen better novels. These two stories both tackle the concept of a hidden world somewhere on Earth where dinosaurs still roam. Sir Conan Doyle uses a remote spot in South America, most likely deep in Brazil, almost to the Andes mountains. Mr. Crichton, on the other hand, continues his tale of a dinosaur amusement park/petting zoo and stations his animals on a remote island of the coast of Costa Rica. Both areas are tropical with plenty of wildlife. Perfect settings. Conan Doyle’s animals have been there for millennia while Mr. Crichton’s critters are the remnants of scientific experimentation left to survive on their own. And survive they do.
Both books use science as a vehicle to explain their thoughts on zoology and evolution. Crichton goes far beyond Conan Doyle. Of course, he had almost 100 years (83 actually) of scientific advancement to add to his story. The animals in this novel are manufactured and left to survive on the island alone after being abandoned when Jurassic Park fails. This is a key factor in the book to explain the animal behavior of the raptors. Conan Doyle discusses the topic a bit with his pterodactyls and iguanodons.
Another contrast with the books, besides advancing scientific knowledge, is the role of the animal in their lost world. Conan Doyle does not have many large predators on the mesa. Though I would argue the pterodactyls might be more dangerous than he lets on. There are no raptors or t-rexes. This helps keep the balance on the mesa. His main predator is man and the man-like apes. Crichton, on the other hand, has a billion raptors and also T-rexes. But that’s a point of the story. Too many predators on the island makes for great drama and chase scenes but also the eventual collapse of the eco-system.
Finally, the role of women is completely different in each book. In Sir Conan Doyle’s book, the women are there to calm the men when they are angry and to trick them into doing stupid macho stuff. In Crichton’s book, the woman is there to save the men’s butts. Dr. Sarah Harding made me stand up and cheer. She was such a contrast to the men, the pure mathematician stuck in his own head, the field scientist willing to risk lives to get data. She just womaned up and saved everyone over and over and over. More books need a Sarah Harding. Smart, practical, kick-ass.
Overall, The Lost World by Michael Crichton was a fun read, though the author got bogged down in explaining science to us too often.
I give it Four T-Rex eggs.