The Lost World – A Review

6 March 2013 in Book Reviews

*  Note – Last week’s class was about reviews – reviewing books, music, shows, etc.  Since I just finished reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, I present my review for it here.  Enjoy!

I don’t think I ever really grew up.  Mentally, at least.  I’m sure the sideburns and receding hairline may tell the world otherwise, but deep inside I’m pretty sure I maxed out somewhere between the ages of twelve and fifteen.  A brilliant age where the imagination is (at least hopefully) still alive and adventure is always sought.  There’s a small part of me that always hoped that somewhere, in some distant, unexplored corner of the world, there may be some seemingly prehistoric beast or a tribe of people that have not yet been exposed to the technological catastrophe we call civilization.  And that is exactly what drew me in to The Lost World.  It’s a tale of adventure and discovery, of conflict and battle, romance, and lots and lots of anticipation.

The story is told by Edward Malone, a journalist for The Daily Gazette in the early part of the 20th century, begging his editor for an exciting, adventurous assignment in the hopes that this selfish display of courage will entice the woman of his dreams, thereby making him the man she wants and her the wife that he thinks he needs.  His editor, seeing this ridiculous display, sends him on what he thinks is an impossibility – getting the truth out of Professor Challenger.  Challenger had been on a trip to the Amazon rainforest a year before and came back a changed man, full of wild tales of prehistoric beasts but sadly, no legitimate proof.

Malone manages to win the confidence of the professor, and they both manage to convince the biological society to allow them to prove themselves right or wrong.  They are partnered up with the skeptical Professor Summerlee and the adventurous Lord John Ruxton, an avid sport hunter, and set out upon their journey.

That may seem like an excessively long set up for a one liner about an expedition, but largely that’s how the entire book plays out.  The book builds itself up to four climactic peaks, but falls from each of those peaks perhaps a little too quickly.  A massive amount of time is spent gaining the editor and professor’s trust, then they are thrust into the expedition.  Another long setup as they travel along winding rivers and unexplored jungle, and so on.

Doyle does deliver on the promise of dinosaurs and lost tribes, and even throws in an epic battle, but by the time all of this occurs, our main characters are ready to go home and tell the world of their conquest.

The Lost World is an enjoyable story, but most of the excitement of the story is anticipation rather than genuine excitement, and most of the action that does occur is fairly predictable, although that could partly lie in the fact that this story is a hundred years old.  Part of me is eagerly looking forward to reading the next in the line of Professor Challenger novels, but part of me is expecting more expectation than excitement.

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6 March 2013 Book Reviews