I had remembered the basic concept from when I had previously read it, but had forgotten a good portion of it. Honestly, the last time I read it was in middle school. As I normally do with books I read, I’m going to tell you what I liked about it and what I didn’t like about it. Before I lose you, I’m going to sum up the story:
This is an epistolary story (where the story is told in the form of letters… a.k.a. epistles). A fickle woman says she wants to marry a man of adventure, so our main character, Malone, a writer for a newspaper, decides he is going to become a man of adventure. He encounters Professor Challenger, gets a black eye, and volunteers to go to South America with Challenger in search of pterodactyls. Along for the ride are two others: an outdoorsy hunter type named Jon Roxton and a professor, Summerlee, who wants to prove Challenger a fool. Off they go into the Amazon. Let me be brief: anthropoid apes, betrayal, dinosaurs, poison darts, volcano, dinosaurs, no escape, prisoners, marshes, dinosaurs etc. They return to London with an insane sounding story. I won’t tell you the end though, because I like it a lot and I want you to read it.
Now, onto the things I liked and disliked. Let’s start with the positive.
What I liked about “The Lost World”:
- I love the camaraderie between the four men who go adventuring.
- I love Gladys’ choice at the end
- I love Challenger and his wife
- When things happened in this book, I was all attention. I may not know much about the iguanadon, but by George, I was enthralled!
- I’m fascinated by what the people of the early 1900’s thought about this book. Did they think it was real? I mean… is it real?
- It’s interesting to see how ideas and perceptions have changed since this book came out. A good anthropological study.
- Did I mention dinosaurs?
What I disliked about “The Lost World”:
- Everybody seemed so optimistic all the time. Just once, I wanted someone to have a total breakdown. There were some definite points that came close, but they just did not quite get there.
- Anthropoid apes. It’s not that I have a problem with them from a literary point of view, I just don’t like them. Then again, you’re not supposed to like them. To quote an awesome movie, “Get your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty ape!” [Planet of the Apes, 1968]
- The story took a little longer to start than I wanted it to.
- There was no sequel, though the ending totally sets it up for one.