by Michael Crichton
Whew! Thank goodness those sexy scientists foiled the DNA-engineered dinosaurs in that totally misconceived Jurassic Park. Don’t have to worry about any raptors round here. Yep, it’s been six years, and Ian Malcolm, wisecracking mathematician (think Jeff Goldblum), can just get on with his chaos theory, tamely teaching his Santa Fe classes. CRUNCH.
With the thunder of a thousand T-rexes—or at least the weight of a 2-million first printing—Crichton’s sequel to Jurassic Park invades bookstores this week. Action-packed and camera-ready, The Lost World is to its predecessor what microwave dinners are to home-cooked meals: hardly authentic, but in a pinch fully satisfying.
On an island in Costa Rica, the prehistoric creatures brought to life by the late, bankrupt company InGen are multiplying but dying young. There are far too many predators. And more are on the way: a murderous pack of humans intent on stealing dinosaur eggs for future genetic projects. Then a second team approaches, headed by Malcolm, that includes inventor Jack Thorne and biologist Sarah Harding. They are there to rescue Richard Levine, the paleontologist who wouldn’t take Malcolm’s advice to stay home. They get some crucial help from two precocious stowaways—Levine’s seventh-grade lab helpers.
In this Lost World, the dinos make terrific parents. They’d do anything to protect their young. One of the book’s more satisfying moments comes when a tyrannosaurus tenderly feeds a villain to its babies. Here the velociraptor stars of Jurassic Park hardly seem cause for alarm. More ominous are a pair of seven-foot chameleons that can take the shape of a plant, a tree—or a chain-link fence.
Such cinematic scenes make it difficult to read The Lost World without Spielbergian visions flashing through a reader’s head. And the odd reappearance of Ian Malcolm, when other key characters from the original have been dropped, makes one wonder if only Jeff Goldblum was available to appear in the movie sequel. But even at his most calculating—incorporating two urchins, crafting a feminist hero—the author pleases. Characteristically clever, fast-paced and engaging, Michael Crichton’s latest work accomplishes what he set out to do: offer the still-harrowing thrills of a by-now-familiar ride. (Knopf, $25.95)