Enter the Lost World once again…

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

So I never seemed to review The Lost World when I read it the first time, and I can’t remember the why. Ah well! I recently decided to give audiobooks a try, first listening to Jurassic Park and now the sequel. It was a great start to the small collection of audiobooks I own right now, especially since I could see how they  handled the graphs included in the first book.

Between the first and second of these, there seemed to be improvements. I sort of had to remember off-hand what a very important chart contained in Jurassic Park, which was a chart describing the amount of dinosaurs expected in the park versus the amount found, which was supremely important in several scenes. In The Lost World, there was little use of charts, but they definitely read out some information that if I recall correctly was listed in the same manner, and I was able to fully visualize the situation from its inclusion.

Now, onto the actual content! The Lost World is a direct sequel to Jurassic Park, with the return of Ian Malcolm and new associates to Ilsa Sorna, a.k.a. Site B, the actual labs and rearing grounds of the dinosaurs. Let me tell, what a difference a rereading makes in comprehension of a book! I had several rather concrete memories I took from my first reading of the book that turns out were simply conjecture on my part that the book in no way leads to! Just faulty understanding. I find that always rather interesting. The most important of which was the Carnotaurus, a chameleon-like carnivore with the advanced ability to blend into its environments. My take-away was that they were saying that the park had been further screwing around with genetics, creating hybrids in a greater way than simply splicing frog DNA into the code. But really, it’s no different. The actual take-away is that dinosaurs may have had these sort of abilities that we don’t account for.

There are other instances of that, but the Carnotaurus is the most… prominent? memory I have being wrong. Like the whole genetic manipulation thing stuck out so much in my mind, yet it was all in my own head! And now the new movies involve that very theme. Strange, but not unexpected (clearly, haha).

One of the best take-aways from the actual content of the book is Sarah Harding. She’s a tough, strong, sensible young woman with a lot to prove and a lot of good advice for Kelly, the young girl who ends up on this adventure with her friend Arby. Everyone contributes to the group’s survival throughout the book, but Harding’s is honestly the most noticeable me. It’s sort of like Lara Croft vibes, and I grew up loving the Tomb Raider games, so I got right behind this. The final action Kelly takes to save the group from the raptor pack is ultimately something she realizes with Harding’s advice echoing around in her skull. Most of what people tell you is wrong, to paraphrase.

It is very enjoyable. Scott Brick, the narrator for the editions I listened to, has a very strong, steady voice, and puts just enough feeling into the recordings that I can be comfortable giving this a go. There’s the constant argument about whether or not audiobooks are considering reading, but I feel they are. Fight me. Haha!

Interested in The Lost World? It can be purchased here.


Welcome to Jurassic Park! (Oh yeah, you saw this coming.)

As will be with this and future entries involving reviews: depending on my level of interest, I will go into great detail. Thus, S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

Fun fact. Until last year, I had never read Jurassic Park.

Yeah, you heard me.

The simple truth was, growing up, I never was able to gain access to it. But with the advent of the internet, life has become disturbingly convenient. So disturbingly so, that one will often forget important things. Like reading Jurassic Park.

I was born in 1987. Which means that, when the movie Jurassic Park came out, I wasn’t quite six years old. My first distinct memories in this life might say a lot about my interests–the intro of 101 Dalmatians, the intro of Nightmare Before Christmas, and the entirety of Jurassic Park. I saw the latter two films with my pseudo-father, Carl. I remember him telling me I could hide in his jacket if I was scared. I remember clinging to his arm. I remember being in awe.

I knew there was a book. I knew how to read quite a few dinosaur names and recognize their pictures. The simple truth was, no one I knew had the book, and I couldn’t find it. When I first picked up an ereader, I grabbed it. But I’m a bit of a hoarder–it can sometimes take me years to catch up. Last year, I read it. Last week, I read it again. I can safely say I experienced the same reactions, the same thoughts, the same intense enjoyment both times.

I know it’s a flawed story, for the simple reason that what we know to be “true” about dinosaurs is a liquid truth–it changes frequently. But it is essentially built into the story that flaws are expected. The actual point of the thing is the flaws, the danger of those flaws. The book lays out how the commercialization of science is, in essence, out of control. There are no controls. Jurassic Park itself is a result of that.

From the movie, I fell in love with Alan Grant. I found Henry Wu’s job intriguing. From the book, the original account (as a book and movie fan, I tend to view such things as different cannons, only loosely influencing each other), I continued to love Alan Grant. One point of growth for him in the movie–his feelings towards children, is unnecessary to the book. He already likes kids. And this in itself makes more sense to me. As Crichton points out, many children can say the complicated dinosaur names, recognize their images. Their natural curiosity can often grow to become someone like Alan Grant himself. Both versions of his character protects the children of the story from the hellish world they’ve been brought to.

In the book, we’re actually given a better understanding of the park’s functions. So much so that we even see a bit of coding written down every now and again. We’re shown why the park is “functioning”. We’re shown (typically by Ian Malcolm’s insistence or prodding), how the measures are inherently flawed. Usually quite simply. The most striking, simplest example to me is how the search program that tracks the amount of dinosaurs in the park was programmed to find the precise amount of dinosaurs that should be in the park. By searching for more than the expected amount, one suddenly is confronted with the startling knowledge that several species have greatly increased their numbers. One thing that does throw me is how the breeding Velociraptors had actually appeared outside their containment area to begin with–I wanted to see an explanation, expected one, but by the end of the book we’re only left understanding how they (the free-roaming ones) had gotten through the actual perimeter fencing. The initial group of raptors only escapes while the main grid is left offline.

One example of the difference in cannons is the mastermind behind Jurassic Park: John Hammond. In the movie, we’re presented with a kind, genuine old man with a dream he intends to make reality, sparing no expense. I liked him as a child, but I suspected he wasn’t being very smart. That lack of rational thought revealed itself tenfold in his novelized-counterpart. He is a man with a vision, a plan. And he’ll be damned if he can’t carry it out. It’s frightening, but it’s a very real sort of thought pattern. These people exist. They scare me, because I like to pretend I’m capable of protecting myself, saving myself. Being in control. Which Ian Malcolm continuously points out is a troublesome part of human habit. That we laughingly think we can have control. The two versions of John Hammond are equally believable, equally possible, stemming from the same goal. And I have to admit, I have never felt quite as satisfied with a character’s outcome as I did John Hammond’s. Just in case the reader had forgotten what sort of person he was, Crichton reminds you through Hammond’s last thoughts. His deluded, disturbing thoughts. His misguided thoughts of control, his contradictory belief that nothing was his fault. Good people are dying for his vision. Bad people are dying for his vision. It’s only fair that he, too, die for his vision.

As far as slight changes between cannons? I was happy Muldoon survived. I was happy for the extreme expansion of Henry Wu’s character. He was someone I was intrigued by when I saw the movie, but he leaves as quickly as he is introduced. His concern for his role in the madness was interesting. He was no longer a scientist simply doing something because he could–he was considering the fact that he wasn’t in control, wasn’t being listened to–he was thinking about the consequences of his actions. In a way, Henry Wu was simply another machine to John Hammond (and don’t get me started on his opinions/manipulation of his grandchildren). Henry Wu was a redeeming character, for his faults. His unfortunate end at least a desperate attempt–not to survive himself, but to help a fellow human. Why did this shine to me? Because I don’t know that I am capable of such a thing myself. I enjoy characters that are better humans than myself. If I am continuously reminded of what I think humanity should be like, perhaps one day I’ll try to exhibit such qualities myself. But that’s a terrible topic for another time.

In the end, visiting the original incarnation of Jurassic Park was a gorgeous thing. It delved into science, the disturbing side-effects of rampant technological advances, humanity, survival, and, let’s not forget–dinosaurs. I love me some dinosaurs. In a way, the end of the book makes more sense to me than the actual movie… though, it’s possible to reason both. In a way, Isla Nublar’s fate is tied to John Hammond’s own. I rather like that.