I think I just got book rick-rolled haha. I spent the last few days reading The Lost World to get to the scene above and it…never happened.
Now I’m googling “The Lost World Book vs Movie Differences” and finding out that the entire sequence of events that lead up to a T Rex loose in San Diego was made up just for the movie and was never in the book haha. Whoops…
Okay, we were doing a book review, I think. Let’s try to set aside my crushing disappointment that I didn’t get to re-live the scene above in my print, with a T Rex running through San Diego.
So I picked up The Lost World because /r/books promised a scene with raptors on the boat that was bringing the dinosaurs to San Diego. Wait, hold on…that’s not better. Okay, so I picked up The Lost World because /r/books said it was good? Yeah, let’s go with that.
I took a break from marathoning The Expanse in print and decided to go the total other direction in sci-fi. Instead of the future with space and the problems inherent in living in a vacuum, I decided to go back and hang out with dinosaurs, woohoo.
Okay let’s start the review
The Lost World was an exhilarating action story with cool science in it, focusing on animal behavior, plus re-introducing me to some of my favorite dinosaurs growing up, pachycephalosaurus, compsognathus, apatosaurus, and of course, our favorite carnivores, raptors. The pacing of the story was perfect to me as a reader. You got to experience the joys of Levitt and Malcolm as they explore Isla Sorna before everything goes to shit, geeking out with them as they get to observe dinosaurs in the wild, seeing if prevailing theories on dinosaur behavior were right or wrong. They’re so happy and you are too as a result. Even Levitt, who’s basically an ass the entire story, can’t help but be happy while he’s doing his nature observations.
I feel like they built the characters well too. Everyone has a motivation for acting the way they do or doing the things they do. Sarah Harding has special insight into how the dinosaurs might act because of her experience with working with large predators in Africa. Kelly is unsure about most things she does because everyone at school had basically given her extreme negative reinforcement growing up. Levitt is a spoiled asshole naturalist because well, rich kids don’t grow up with boundaries and so they get to do whatever they want to do and treat people mostly however they want to treat them. Dodgson is super reckless and gets his entire team killed because it’s his one last shot at dinosaur discover, plus because he has a questionable moral compass in the first place.
But of course, this is Jurassic Park, and everything eventually goes pear shaped, this time kicked off not because of the idiocy of Nedry, but because of the conscience of Eddie, who brings back an injured T Rex to the camp because he didn’t have the heart to shoot it. Well, I mean, if you really want to make this the antagonist’s fault, this is Dodgson’s fault because his team broke the T Rex’s leg in the first place, but nevertheless…
It’s too bad that the road to hell was paved with such good intentions. Because of the rescue, the T Rex mom and dad come and knock the hell out of the trailers, almost killing Malcolm and Sarah in the process. This scene was exceptionally well written and I can see why they tried to stay as true to it as possible when they made the movie. You can basically taste the fear of Malcolm, reliving his worst nightmares again, and you fully understand how Sarah is as strong as she is by living her thoughts along with her as she tries to keep Malcolm alive.
Raptors and Horrible Deaths
The raptor scenes in this are especially horrific, adding a new depth to death by raptor that wasn’t present in the film adaptation. Eddie’s death in the novel was way more horrific than the one he got on the big screen, as he is essentially tricked by the raptors into falling to his own death before getting pounced on. More than that, they exhibit an almost insane tenaciousness in trying to kill our protagonists, chasing them from location to location, and setting up traps along the way. I’m not convinced that the calories they spent in trying to kill the people were less than the calories they would have gotten by being successful, but hey, it’s an action story, and things don’t have to be 100% based in reality, right?
Speaking of horrible deaths, Dodgson’s death was a great present for us readers in the form of justice porn. I legitimately had my mouth agape as I read the scene where Sarah pushes him out from under the car to get eaten by the T. Rex. It represented the first truly grey action that a protagonist took, instead of the obviously good protagonist actions and the obviously bad antagonist actions. I mean, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense; the T Rex can smell people. It knows you’re nearby; it probably is deducing that you’re under the car. What it doesn’t know is that there are two of you, so push the other person out and you should be safe, right? It’s genius. But you don’t expect the good guys to do it, right?
But anyway, his death was especially delicious, since this entire problem is kind of his fault. I had a justice boner as I read the final chapter where the question is finally answered as to why the T Rex didn’t eat him to begin with. Ohhhhh, it’s because he is target practice for the T Rex babies. Awwww…
Switching gears really quickly, one thing that was a slight disappointment was the answer to the question “How are there so many predators on this island?” I had expected some fancy Ingen plot since there had been so much buildup for the question. I loved Sarah and Malcolm’s conversation about it earlier where they go through the math and deduce that it make no sense for there to be a predator-prey population ratio as skewed as it was, since I was kind of thinking something similar myself. For the answer to be “oh, prions” was kind of disappointing, since it wasn’t anything as grand and epic as I thought it was built up to be, but oh well. I suppose it kept with the theme of complex systems having simple solutions / causes.
I’m still a little sad that I got tricked by /r/books into reading this book for scenes that weren’t even in it (I WANTED RAPTORS ON A BOAT!), but all in all, I’m glad I read The Lost World. It was an entertaining read, driven by action, and kept the turns coming. I can honestly say that I could not anticipate most plot events before they happened, and probably wouldn’t have been able to anticipate *any* of them had I not seen the movie first.
The story is well written, and I definitely found myself putting off other things to keep reading. I’d recommend it to anyone else looking for a fun book to read that was ever interested in Jurassic Park at all, or you know, DINOSAURS!