As far as sequels go, some readers might be disappointed to learn that The Lost World doesn’t follow Alan Grant as the protagonist. In my humble opinion, Alan would never be foolhardy enough to set foot on an island with dinosaurs again. Ian Malcolm, however, apparently is.
The setup is an interesting one, as Crichton forces us to focus on an enthusiastic scientist who believes he has discovered a “lost world,” an oasis untouched by time or humanity where dinosaurs actually still exist. As the reader, we are aware just as much as Ian Malcolm is that these are actually genetically engineered dinosaurs, apparently housed on the “back up” island Isla Sorna, instead of the resort island of Isla Nublar. We again travel with woefully unprepared and overly-confident characters as they discover how completely fucked humans actually are, when they try to control Nature in such an intimidating form. Where the raptors took the show in the first novel, the tyrannosaurs are the central dinos in this sequel.
Curiously, Crichton again includes two kids on the island. It’s strange, when Crichton obviously most loves the intellectual adults, so deserving of some bad karma after all their prideful posturing. As in the first novel, though, I think Crichton realized that he needed to amp up the suspense on the island. If it’s only adults who are either inherently bad people, or prideful people making bad decisions, then the reader might feel they deserve what comes to them if they’re eaten, maimed, or lost. The kids, however? Innocent kids don’t deserve to be eaten by dinosaurs. Their awe as they are clearly in the throes of their dinosaur phases helps bring the adult reader back to that sense of wonder, as well. If we are only looking at the dinosaurs as analytical scientists, we miss out on how amazing it would be to actually see a live dinosaur.
Reading The Lost World isn’t quite so essential as reading Jurassic Park, but it is still crafted with beautiful balance. Writers would benefit from learning about the pacing of a suspenseful story that still includes plenty of scientific fact. Considering the amount of background that needs to be present to support the believability of these circumstances, I never noticed Crichton falling prey to excessively boring info dumping. As far as page turners go, Crichton delivers as per usual.