The Lost World by Michael Crichton – Literary Analysis

The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park became his most prominent work. The 1993 film adaptation spurred a tremendous dinosaur craze. Fans demanded more. The result was a sequel novel in the same tone as the original, driven once again though the voice of Ian Malcolm.

While the first film deviated from the book in many key areas, the heart of the story remained intact. In this case, it felt as if the book were an afterthought to the film. The Lost World of Michael Crichton barely resembles that of Steven Spielberg.

When compared with the film The Lost World Jurassic Park, the two plots are wildly different. Some fans feel that the movie did the novel a disservice by deviating so drastically; others prefer the movie and see the novel as out of character for Crichton. While this book was successful, it lacked the same critical adoration that the original enjoys.

Summary of Lost World

Six years since the incident at Jurassic Park, not all wounds have healed. Ian Malcolm miraculously survived the encounters from the first book and returns to the field after some coaxing from Dr. Jack Thorne. Strange animals have been turning up near Costa Rica, prompting an investigation to see if these aberrant forms are remnants of Jurassic Park.

Once again we witness the outcomes of chaos firsthand. The introduction of extinct animals into our world upset a delicate balance. Our characters encounter a battle to survive both the wrath of nature and the wrath of man. When an old character returns with nefarious intentions, the fate of our world is jeopardized.

While it receives less positive reviews from critics, this book offers a lot for dinosaur fans. After reading Jurassic Park, it’s hard to put down a Crichton novel. His writing delivers plenty of thrills laden with scientific concepts.

Many of these scenes would sadly not make it into the film adaptation. The novel once again manages to deliver horror that lives up to the standards of Crichton’s work. While the text deviates from Jurassic Park, something pure has survived.

Author Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton was one of the most accomplished authors of our time. He is credited with dozens of novels, movies, and television programs, typically involving scientific subjects. Crichton incorporated his educational background and his passion for learning into his writing. Growing up, Crichton gravitated to works of science fiction. This affinity for reading helped to propel his career by providing inspiration and a means to challenge himself to measure up to icons of the genre. He demonstrated an affinity for writing at an early age. A fourteen year old Crichton had an article on travel published by The New York Times.

Crichton earned his B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard College and M.D. from Harvard Medical School. While this educational path seems odd for a career as an author, Crichton’s background enhanced his ability to work with publishers, actors, and various experts he routinely consulted.

A modern renaissance man, Crichton’s diverse talents were reflected by his work. Crichton’s work as an author often eclipses his work as a director and producer.

The long-running hospital drama ER has defined the genre. From the sci-fi/western Westworld to the action thriller Twister, Crichton showcased a remarkable talent for injecting fresh ideas into classic tropes.

Sadly, Michael Crichton lost the battle to cancer on November 4, 2008. He left behind a storied legacy. The numerous works that he produced will live on to bring excitement, terror, and intrigue to audiences forever.

Writing the Lost World

Crichton wrote only one sequel in his entire writing career: The Lost World. He stated that sequels were particularly difficult to write, lacking the punch of originals. Sequels by default become judged by the bar set by the predecessor.

Make sequels too similar, fans criticize retreading old territory; make them too different, fans criticize the inconsistency. Growing pressure from fans and talks with Steven Spielberg led Crichton to move forward and write a follow-up to the highly successful Jurassic Park.

It [The Lost World] was really something that came from the readers. From the first publication of the book, kids began to read it and they would send letters: “What about the sequel? What about the sequel? What about the sequel?”

I had not ever done a sequel before and would always say, “There won’t be one.” Then, as time went on, they would say, “Well, this would be a good sequel. Here’s another idea for a sequel.”

Now you’re reading them thinking,” No, that’s not right. No, we wouldn’t do that.” Then you start thinking, “Well, why not? Well, what would be good?” Eventually there did seem to be the likelihood there would be another film and Steven seemed to have some interest in that. It’s a very difficult structural problem because it has to be the same but different; if it’s really the same, then it’s the same—and if it’s really different, then it’s not a sequel. So it’s in some funny intermediate territory.

Source: http://www.michaelcrichton.com/

The second novel presented a couple of challenges. First, Crichton killed off Ian Malcom, a pivotal character in driving the narrative forward. Secondly, Isla Nublar was completely destroyed at the hands of the fictional Costa Rican Air Force.

Crichton brought Malcolm back from the dead, declaring that he clawed back from the brink of death. As for the setting, rather than move forward with the concept of dinosaurs on the mainland, Crichton devised a backstory for Isla Sorna.

Site B provided a research and development facility on another remote island, consistent with the theme of a lost world.

Other Books by Crichton

Below are a chronological list of his books, including those under a pseudonyms or as a coauthor:

  • Odds On – 1966
  • Scratch One – 1967
  • Easy Go – 1968
  • A Case of Need – 1968
  • The Venom Business – 1969
  • Zero Cool – 1969
  • The Andromeda Strain – 1969
  • Five Patients – 1970
  • Grave Descend – 1970
  • Drug of Choice – 1970
  • Binary – 1972
  • The Terminal Man – 1972
  • The Great Train Robbery – 1975
  • Eaters of the Dead – 1976
  • Jasper Johns – 1977
  • Congo – 1980
  • Electronic Life – 1983
  • Sphere – 1987
  • Travels – 1988
  • Jurassic Park – 1990
  • Rising Sun – 1992
  • Disclosure – 1994
  • The Lost World – 1995
  • Airframe – 1996
  • Timeline – 1999
  • Prey – 2002
  • State of Fear – 2004
  • Next – 2006
  • Pirate Latitudes – 2009
  • Micro – 2011
  • Dragon Teeth – 2017i

Acclaim for Lost World

“An edge-of-the-seat tale.” – St. Petersburg Times

“A very scary read.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Harrowing thrills […] Fast-paced and engaging.” – People

“Fast and gripping.” – The Washington Post Book World

“Action-packed.”- Daily News

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