My Favourite Dinosaur Novels

“Implacable November weather.  As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the Earth, and would it not be wonderful to meet Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.”

From Charles Dickens classic novel Bleak House. This was the first ever mention of a Dinosaur in any work of fiction. The name Dinosaur itself had only been coined ten years earlier by Richard Owen, but the beasts were fast catching the public’s imagination. This reference, like much in Dickens novels reflected what was going on at the time.

The very earliest Dinosaur novels that followed after such as The Lost World, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The Land That Time Forgot would lay down the foundations for nearly every subsequent Dinosaur story across all mediums.

Since the heyday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs there have been many more exciting and ground breaking Dinosaur novels, such as Jurassic Park which helped to bring new and exciting theories about Dinosaurs to the public’s attention and changed how we viewed them.

I think that many of the greatest Dinosaur novels can help to show that Dinosaur fiction isn’t just something for children. Sadly many people tend to view having an interest in Dinosaurs as being childish, like in the American sitcom Friends for instance. The character of Ross Geller is frequently ridiculed by both the writers and the other characters for his love of Dinosaurs.

Stories like Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Jurassic Park and The Lost World meanwhile were written by among the most accomplished writers of all time. From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Jules Verne. Clearly these great literary minds didn’t see Dinosaurs as a childish subject.

The greatest Dinosaur novels are more than just fun adventure stories. They tackle subjects such as exploring the unknown, man’s destructive effect on the environment and tampering with nature as we will soon see.

This list will not be presented in any order of preference, as ultimately I found that I couldn’t pick my all time favourite.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864)

The first novel to focus on prehistoric creatures. I wasn’t sure about whether or not to include this as technically there are no true Dinosaurs in it. The marine reptiles who attack our heroes are not actually Dinosaurs. Still I feel I have to include it in this list for a number of reasons.

To start with whilst creatures like Plesiosaurs may not technically be Dinosaurs, they are still often viewed as such in popular culture. Furthermore this was the first book to actually feature prehistoric creatures of any kind. Particularly those who lived at the same time as the Dinosaurs.

Also most importantly, Journey to the Centre of the Earth is essentially the template for close to every single Dinosaur story for the next 150 years.

It is the first story to revolve around a remote area on earth where prehistoric reptiles still roam. Whilst there are a few pieces of Dinosaur fiction that don’t follow this formula. Primeval, Jurassic Park, One Million Years BC etc. The majority do follow the basic premise of there being some little remote area on earth, a valley, a plateau, an island, an underground cave, where Dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals, Pterosaurs, Plesiosaurs, maybe even a tribe of proto humans and ape men or giant apes, still exist into modern day.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and Edgar Rice Burroughs The Land That Time Forgot both follow this idea, except they moved the land of Dinosaurs to above the ground. Later films such as Gwangi and King Kong also stick to Verne’s formula beat for beat too.

Even the original Godzilla starts with this same premise, as Godzilla is shown to have come from a remote island where Dinosaurs still roam before he was mutated by an atomic blast.

There are even many other stories that revolve around the idea of Dinosaurs living in a land that exists within the Earth’s core. Edgar Rice Burroughs Pellucidar series which began with At the Earth’s Core as well as the Russian novel Plutonia are both among the most famous examples of the hollow earth subgenre.

Most Dinosaur stories are really just variations of Verne’s idea, though that’s not to do down these other works, as the variations ultimately allow them to stand out as classics in their own right.

It should be acknowledged at the same time that Journey to the Centre of the Earth was not the first Hollow Earth story either. Nothing is completely original, as just about every story has been done. All any writer can really do most of the time is just add a new variation to an old idea.

Still ultimately at the end of the day this novel is the forebear of most Dinosaur fiction, so in spite of the fact that there are no true Dinosaurs in it. (Only marine Reptiles and prehistoric mammals.) I still have to include it here.

The novel itself aside from its literary significance still holds up as a great adventure. Some critics have responded negatively to the fact that compared to Verne’s other novels, the science in it is rather dated. It has also been criticised for its very slow pace. .

Still personally I found it an enjoyable read right the way through. The scientific goofs don’t bother me as at the end of the day it is still science fiction. Plus whilst I know a bit about Dinosaurs, the same as any nerdy guy, I’m a complete scientific illiterate anyway.

Also I found the build up to their adventure at the center of the earth interesting as the three main characters, Otto Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans are all very engaging.

Lidenbrock is a total hot head and the classic insufferable genius type of character like Sherlock Holmes (who he predates by about 20 years) taken to the utmost extreme. He actually locks his own nephew and maid in the house, and starves them until he can find a way to crack an ancient code! Despite this he is given a few moments that show deep down he does care for his nephew, in spite of his borderline psychotic behaviour towards him.

Axel meanwhile is a complete coward and utterly useless. In fact his bumbling almost kills the team and briefly strands them in the valley.

Hans meanwhile functions more as the straight man of the group and helps to balance out the two more extreme personalities of his companions.

The lost world of the story is intriguing as we don’t really know much about it. In later lost world stories we often get a complete image of the valley/island/plateau the main characters travel too. In King Kong and The Lost World we see the natives customs and even little bits of their history too. Peter Jackson did a whole fictional documentary about the history of Skull Island.

Here however it feels like we are only given little glimpses. On the one hand unlike Burroughs later Pellucidar series, Verne isn’t given a chance to really create his own unique little world in quite the same way, but on the other it does allow Verne to build up a more effective atmosphere.

When the main characters discover the remains of a large ape man they decided to avoid encountering one at all costs, which actually helps to make the creature more sinister.

For all we know it may have been a peaceful, even somewhat advanced creature that felt a kinship with the human explorers. Or it may have been a savage monster that would have ripped them limb from limb. The reader is allowed to build up an image of what the true beast could be like, and it becomes much more tense the knowledge that this large, mysterious creature could be lurking around any corner. For all we know it could be stalking the main characters.

Sadly Journey to the Centre of the Earth is not quite as remembered as some of Verne’s other works, but its impact on the genre is immeasurable. It has spawned a few adaptations over the years including 2 live action films, one in 1959 starring James Mason and another in 2008 starring Brendan Fraser.

Neither are particularly faithful to the novel, though both are still good movies nonetheless. The 2008 film does actually have genuine Dinosaurs in it too.

Overall a classic of the genre and the template for most Dinosaur stories.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912)

From the creator of Sherlock Holmes, this was the first true Dinosaur novel.

The Lost World see’s Professor George Challenger lead a team consisting of Lord Summerlee, Lord John Roxton and Edward Malone to a plateau high above the Amazon rainforest where a variety of prehistoric creatures, as well as a tribe of human beings and vicious Ape men (who are at war with each other) roam. Challenger and his team help the natives wipe out the Ape men and later escape the Plateau with a Pterodactly egg. The egg later hatches in London, giving Challenger the proof he needs of his exploits.

Whilst Journey to the Centre of the Earth may have created the Lost World trope, this adventure perfected it. Far more aspects of this story pop up in future Dinosaur stories than from Verne’s novel. The tribe of humans, the giant two legged meat eating Dinosaur that stalks our heroes throughout the novel, and a creature from the lost world of Dinosaurs being brought back to a big modern city like London or New York. These tropes would all later re-appear in classic Dinosaur stories like King Kong, Gwangi and the Jurassic Park films.

Doyle’s Lost World is much more fleshed out than Verne’s. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. On the one hand there is less of an atmosphere and mystery about Doyle’s plateau, but on the other hand we do get more exciting Dinosaur sequences as a result, such as the Allosaurus’s attack on the natives village. The fact that we see the plateau in great detail also allows Doyle to explore a wider variety of ideas, such as how human beings would live alongside prehistoric beasts, how they would manage to tame them in some cases, yet also be completely humbled by the large meat eaters in others.

The natives are also given a very sympathetic and 3 dimensional portrayal unlike in some later adaptations of the novel, such as the Irwin Allen version in 1960 or other films with a similar premise such as King Kong. Whilst much of Conan Doyle’s work was of its time, it is true that he was a very progressive writer in a number of ways too.

He created one of the most memorable female characters in all of fiction in the shape of Irene Adler, who manages to be the only person to beat Sherlock Holmes. Another short Sherlock Holmes story by Doyle “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” features another female character who wins Holmes respect and actually kills the main villain of the story.

The Lost World similarly can be seen to perhaps be ahead of its time, in that the main characters are shown to have the utmost respect for the natives and their customs. The natives are also depicted as highly civilized and advanced.

A problem with the Lost World is that there perhaps are too few Dinosaur species in it. Allosaurus is the only meat eating Dinosaur to appear in the novel

In all fairness to Doyle however there weren’t that many Dinosaur species known when he wrote this book. Even Tyrannosaurus Rex though it had been discovered by this point, it’s fossils were not that well known.

Still Doyle manages to use his single meat eater in a variety of different ways. When our heroes first encounter the Allosaurus, the reader is given just a fleeting glimpse of how immense and dangerous the beast is, as the explorers are tormented by the sounds of the Iguanodons screaming in the dark.

This just helps to make Malone’s encounter with the Dinosaur in the jungle more effective, as Malone has to deal with a monster that slaughtered an entire herd of giants by himself. Doyle doesn’t just simply have the beast attack however. He builds up the terror gradually as Malone slowly realises he is being followed through the woods by the Allosaur.

Finally when the two Allosaurus’s attack the natives village Doyle show the reader how the Allosaurus truly is the king of the Lost World. The latter part of the book builds the natives who keep Iguanodon’s as pets, hunt Icthyosaurs, and wiped out the Ape men, as seemingly the dominant life on the plateau, yet they are ultimately just powerless against the Allosaurs as anyone else.

The attack on the village was always my favourite sequence from the novel, and surprisingly it is left out of almost all adaptations (except for the 2001 telemovie version, made by Impossible Pictures, the team behind Primeval and Walking with Dinosaurs.)

Another problem with The Lost World is that Edward Malone, the main protagonist is a bit bland. Lord John Roxton meanwhile is also at times a bit annoying the way he is shown to be perfect at everything.

Challenger and Summerlee make an interesting team however. They are almost like two squabbling brothers trying to constantly get one over on the other. It’s also nice seeing them eventually grow to develop respect and even something of a friendship over the course of their time on the Plateau. Though they never become close, the best they become is vitriolic friends.

Professor Challenger was actually Conan Doyle’s favourite creation, even more so than the great detective himself. Challenger is a brilliant character all around. He is cut from the same cloth as Sherlock Holmes in the sense that he too is a maverick genius who plays by his own rules, yet he is almost the complete opposite in every other respect. He is loud, short tempered, violent, boisterous, even physically he is an absolute tank of a man with a massive beard. There is one funny sequence where the leader of the ape men feels a certain kinship with Challenger because he resembles him so much.

Whilst Challenger may not have as complex a personality as Holmes, he still has a huge presence which does somewhat make up for Malone’s blandness.

The Lost World has been adapted more than any other Dinosaur novel across both film and television. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself even appeared in the first ever adaptation in 1925.

No adaptations have remained completely faithful to Doyle’s novel. A female explorer is always added for a bit of variety and also often to supply Malone with a love interest. This began with the very first adaptation in 1925. Roxton also tends to vary between being a hero, an anti hero and even in some cases an outright villain. Tyrannosaurus Rex also often takes Allosaurus’s place as the king of the Lost World too, whilst the natives are often presented in a much more unsympathetic light, though many versions have added a sympathetic native girl at least who helps to save the explorers. The native girl may even become a love interest of Malone or Roxton. The friendly female native first appeared in the 1960 Irwin Allen version and has been a staple ever since.

To be fair this character does have something of a small precedent in the book itself. Just before they leave the Plateau all 4 of the explorers are offered up wives by the natives, but they politely turn them down. Their proposed wives play no real role in the story however, but the idea of the explorers finding romance as it were on the Plateau is not entirely a deviation from Doyle’s story.

The most faithful adaptation of Doyle’s novel is arguably the 2001 tv miniseries produced by Tim Haines, the man behind Walking with Dinosaurs. This version stays close for the most part to the original novel and even has Allosaurus as the main Dinosaur. It also refreshingly portrays the natives as a civilised and advanced society rather than a group of vicious savages.

However once again there is a female explorer and whilst the natives are portrayed sympathetically, they do still turn on the explorers after Challengers actions accidentally cause the two Allosaurus to attack the village. The natives however seem to forgive Roxton who in a further deviation is left behind and marries the friendly native girl of this version.

The Lost World is to Dinosaur fiction what Dracula is to Vampire fiction. Its the quintessential Dinosaur adventure and one of the most influential pieces of prose ever written.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be surprised to see the two women as well as the T-Rex’s on his plateau. 

Caspak Trilogy (1924)

The Caspak trilogy consists of The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, and Out of Time’s Abyss. All 3 have regularly been collected together in one volume, though they are also still released separately too. For the sake of this list however I have decided to list them as one story. I feel they work better as the one adventure.

The Caspak trilogy represents a somewhat grittier, darker take on the Lost World idea than either The Lost World or Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

The main characters do not choose to visit Caspak for the sake of scientific curioisty. Instead they become trapped there after their mission is sabotaged by a traitor. Furthermore the explorers do not all willingly work together either. They are made up of British, American and German soldiers from the First World War, who are forced together to survive, but who ultimately betray one another.

None of the explorers in The Lost World or Journey to the Centre of the Earth were killed either. They all made it back and were given happy endings to boot, where as in Burroughs trilogy, many of the main characters meet violent ends at the hands of the Dinosaurs and monsters they come across.

The darker more pessimistic tone of Land That Time Forgot can be seen to reflect the time this story was written when compared to the earlier classics. This adventure written not long after the first world war, and not long before the great depression reflects a more unsure, darker time as opposed to The Lost World.

In terms of the Dinosaurs there is a much larger bestiary of creatures, with Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus making an appearance. Edgar Rice Burroughs was fascinated by Dinosaurs. Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne merely had an interest in them, but Burroughs loved them so much he would write many books about the beasts. The second entry in the series however tends to focus more on the natives of the island. The second and third books also create a new kind of creature, a vicious winged humanoid known as the Wieroo, which is feared by many of the natives even more so than the Dinosaurs!

The Wieroo marks the beginning of a trend in future Lost World stories of introducing new, fictional beasts, which Burroughs would continue to a greater extent in his Pellucador series.

Burroughs also goes into much greater detail about his Lost World than even Conan Doyle did and he provides a full and proper explanation as to why it exists. Here evolution is determined by the location of the island and individual mutation. It’s a complicated process which Burroughs describes as such in Out of Time’s Abyss.

“All came up from the beginning. The egg from which they first developed into tadpole form was deposited, with millions of others, in one of the warm pools…. Down the warm stream from the pool floated the countless billions of eggs and tadpoles, developing as they drifted slowly toward the sea. Some became tadpoles in the pool, some in the sluggish stream and some not until they reached the great inland sea. In the next stage they became fishes or reptiles, An-Tak was not positive which, and in this form, always developing, they swam far to the south, where, amid the rank and teeming jungles, some of them evolved into amphibians. Always there were those whose development stopped at the first stage, others whose development ceased when they became reptiles.    Few indeed were those that eventually developed into baboons and then apes, which was considered by Caspakians the real beginning of evolution.   From the ape the individual, if it survived, slowly developed into the lowest order of man — the Alu — and then by degrees to Bo-lu, Sto-lu, Band-lu, Kro-lu and finally Galu. And in each stage countless millions of other eggs were deposited in the warm pools of the various races and floated down to the great sea to go through a similar process of evolution outside the womb as develops our own young within;

Burrough’s also even gives his Lost World a name Caspak, though it is known as Caprona by the explorers with Caspak being the name its natives give to it.

The Caspak trilogy is also notable for its strong female characters. Whilst much of the novel is still of its time in terms of attitudes to race and gender, Lys La Rue from Land That Time Forgot and the native girl Ajor from People That Time Forgot are both portrayed as strong, brave, resourceful and regularly save the main male characters lives.

Lysa is actually in some ways portrayed as being more competent than Bowen J Tyler. It is Lysa who not only figures out the identity of the real saboteur, but also singlehandedly saves the British crew from the Germans after they are captured in the opening part of the novel. She is also shown to survive the horrors of the island by herself for several days after she becomes separated from Bowen.

Burroughs generally tended to write more dynamic and interesting female characters than many of the contemporaries. By modern standards his female characters may be somewhat lacking, but still much like Doyle he tended be ahead of the curve in more ways than one.

Whilst the Caspak trilogy may not be Burrough’s best work, they are still exciting and engaging stories in their own right and a must have for any fan of Dinosaur fiction.

The three books were later adapted as two films for Amicus studios in the 70s, The Land that Time Forgot, People that Time Forgot starring Doug McClure.

Pellucidar novel series (1914-1944)

Whilst this is technically a series, ultimately much like the Caspak trilogy, I feel that the Pellucidar novels work better as a one long story. That’s not to say that the individual stories aren’t great in their own right, but still I find that when you read one it isn’t enough. You have to read another and another, so I am listing all the books together in this list.

Burrough’s has always been one of my favourite authors because I think he really had a talent for creating whole worlds that would spread out across many books like no other.

Most writers would usually only create one big fictional universe like J R R Tolkien and Middle Earth, but Burrough’s has many with Tarzan, John Carter, Pellucidar, Caspak and the Amtor (Venus) series. Though the Tarzan and Pellucidar series were actually linked via a crossover story, Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.

The Pellucidar series revolves around yet another land at the center of the earth where Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures still roam to this day, but it combines magical, fantastical elements with science fiction concepts.

Its much wilder than previous Lost World stories and features ideas like sentient Pterosaurs called Mahars, that are able to take control of people via mind control and kill their victims by forcing them to drown themselves. Best of all is a flying Stegosaurus that is able to glide through the air using the plates on its back in Tarzan at the Earth’s core.

Pellucidar takes the Lost World formula to a whole new level by filling it full of many fictional species of creatures. Previous Lost World stories had featured fictional creatures from the giant Ape man in Journey to The Centre of The Earth, to the Ape Men in The Lost World, to the Wiemoo in the Caspak trilogy. However all of these monsters were different in that they all had at least some basis in science. Pellucidar takes it to a whole new level by having actual supernatural creatures inhabit the Lost World.

From this point on most Lost World stories will often invent their own monsters as well as having regular Dinosaurs such as Skull Island with King Kong, the Savage Land in Marvel Comics with its various Dinosaur and ape men and even later versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World, such as the version in the 1990’s tv series that has everything from Dinosaur men, to Aliens from outer space, to Vampires!

The Pellucidar series had a massive influence on many subsequent works of fiction including H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountain of Madness. I’d also argue that it had an influence on subsequent adaptations of other Lost World stories too. The friendly native girl that often pops up in the later versions of The Lost World really has more in common with Dian the Beautiful from this series.

The full series consists of

At the Earth’s Core (1914)

Pellucidar (1915)

Tanar of Pellucidar (1929)

Tarzan at the Earth’s Core (1929)

Back to the Stone Age (1937)

Land of Terror (1944)

Savage Pellucidar (1963)

Surprisingly there have only been two adaptations of stories from the series. One film version of At the Earth’s Core in the mid 70’s starring Peter Cushing and Caroline Munro, and another television adaptation of Tarzan at the Earth’s Core which served as the pilot for a Tarzan tv series.

Raptor Red (1995)

This novel was written by paleontologist Bob Bakker. It tells the story of a Utahraptor named Red and her attempts to survive after her pack’s death.

Its obviously written from a third person perspective. Think of it as being like Walking with Dinosaurs though it actually came a few years earlier.

The story despite being written by one of the worlds leading experts on Dinosaurs does take a few creative liberties with what the Dinosaurs could actually do.

Utahraptor for instance whilst being a formidable predator most likely would not have been able to kill a sauropod like it does in this novel.

Its quite an interesting change to focus on a predatory Dinosaur. Normally stories that feature only Dinosaur characters tend to focus on the herbivores like say The Land Before Time. The novel does quite a good job of getting us to sympathise with and root for what was one of the most dangerous predators ever to live on the planet!

I don’t know if I’d rate it quite as a classic but it is an enjoyable read nonetheless. Its fun reading about Dinosaurs frolicking in their natural habitat and running around without any damn humans getting in the way.

Jurassic Park (1990)

There are many reasons Jurassic Park stands out as the most acclaimed Dinosaur novel after The Lost World itself.

Obviously it has benefited in terms of fame from the fantastic film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg in 1993, but still I think the novel can hold its own even without the film.

It’s not just another variation of the Lost World theme. That’s the problem with Dinosaurs is that as interesting as they are, there are only a few ways you can bring them back into the modern world.

Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle basically established the method to bring them back by having them survive in a little remote area, and after that you can tell it was hard for writers to think up new ways that weren’t just variations of that. Even Godzilla though a very different type of Dinosaur story still used that method to bring the titular Dinosaur into modern day.

Jurassic Park which had the Dinosaurs brought back by cloning broke the mould and in doing so was able to explore a new theme. Jurassic Park explores the idea of man tampering with nature, rather than exploring the unknown like The Lost World.

The Dinosaurs are almost like a prehistoric Frankenstein Monster turning on the people who created them. Whilst the ideas in the novel of Dinosaurs being brought back through cloning might seem far fetched, it might not be complete science fiction.

Jack Horner a leading Paleontologist (who worked on the Jurassic Park films) has in fact embarked on a project to clone a Dinosaur from a Chicken!

See here

Paleontologist Jack Horner is hard at work trying to turn a Chicken into a Dinosaur.

Crichton’s novels may still turn out to be somewhat prophetic!

Of course it should be said that Jurassic Park was not actually the first novel to explore the idea of Dinosaurs being brought back by cloning.

Carnosaur by Australian author John Bronson revolves around Dinosaurs being created in the modern day through cloning, and it predated Jurassic Park by about 6 years. Now I have not had a chance to read Carnosaur yet so I am afraid I could not include it on this list, though it sounds brilliant.

Having looked at its synopsis it appears to be more of a comic book type of story about a mad professor who plans to have his Dinosaurs repopulate the earth. Not that I am holding that against it, but still I think this is where Jurassic Park establishes its own identity in that it sees people try and capitalise on the new scientific discovery instead.

Still its interesting seeing how nothing is original. Even something as ground breaking as Jurassic Park has a precedent.

It would be funny to think that at some point in 1990 this might have happened to Michael Crichton after he sold his novel to his publisher, and was talking about this great new idea he had of Dinosaurs being brought back by cloning to his friend at the local store; only for the person behind the counter who was a fan of Carnosaur to give him a dressing down like this. It could also have happened to Edgar Rice Burroughs when he talked about his new idea about Dinosaurs living at the center of the earth called At the Earth’s Core, and a fan of Journey to the Center of the Earth told him off.

Maybe Skinner shouldn’t have given up on Billy and the Cloneasaurus after all?

Another great thing about the way this novel portrays its Dinosaurs is that it actually tries to make them seem like real animals. Jurassic Park helped to bring what at that time were many ideas and theories about Dinosaurs that weren’t widely known to the public’s attention, such as the idea that some Dinosaurs may have been warm blooded and that birds evolved from small meat eating Dinosaurs.

The Dinosaurs in this novel are fast, quick and as realistic as they can possibly be.  There are still a few gaffes however. Most famous of all is that Velociraptor is depicted as a 6 foot tall killer capable of disembowling a human being with its sickle like claw. In reality Velociraptor was the size of a turkey. The reason for this was because at that time Velociraptor was considered a member of the Deinonychus family, a much larger group of meat eating Dinosaurs, but this has since been disproven.

Still the book did more than simply use Dinosaurs for thrills and escapism. It tried to teach its reader about them.

Finally the Velociraptors also helped to make a break from the usual Tyrannosaurus/Allosaurus giant meat eater. The T-Rex still got a look in, but the Raptors gave us Dinosaur enemies who could fight you indoors, sneak up on you, even in some circumstances outwit you. The way they killed you was also more gruesome too. With a T-Rex and an Allosaurus its at least over in just one quick bite. With the Raptors its a horrific, painful, drawn out affair as they slice your guts open and eat you alive!

The novel does have some key differences with the film though I won’t reveal what they are so as not to spoil it for people who might only be familiar with the film. It’s a classic piece of entertainment in its own right every bit as much as the film and I can’t recommend it enough.

The Lost World (1995)

The only sequel that Crichton ever wrote to one of his books. This is not as strong as the original. Really I’d say that there is as big a gulf in terms of quality between the first and second books as there is between the first and second films.

However don’t think that means I dislike the book. I happen to still love the second film too by the way. The Lost World doesn’t really add to the point of the first film. It’s plot is really just a collection of Dinosaur attacks.

That’s not to say it isn’t still a page turner of course. The Dinosaur attacks are very exciting and creative such as the Carnotaurs that have camouflage abilities or the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s smashing the trailer over the edge of a cliff ( a scene that was later used in the film), but again whilst its a good read it doesn’t really feel like it has much else to say from the first book.

It bares very little similarity to the film. In fact the only scene from the book that is in the film is the T-Rex vs trailer scene. It could be argued that Spielberg’s film borrows as much from Conan Doyle’s Lost World as it features the idea of a Dinosaur being brought back to civilisation from Doyle’s novel. Really Spielberg’s film is like a hybrid of the two Lost Worlds.

When I first read the book it was like reading a completely new story. I’d say that the book is at places more of a character piece focusing on how Ian and Sarah survive on the island than the film. Definitely worth a look, but not quite the classic the first Jurassic Park is.

Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “My Favourite Dinosaur Novels

  1. Of these, I’ve read Jurassic Park and both versions of The Lost World. Some other good ones are Dinotopia by James Gurney and Evolution by Stephen Baxter (which is more about the mammalian ancestors of humans, but does feature dinosaurs in the earlier chapters).


  2. Nice list – love the Friends clip!

    I would love to hear what you think of The Dinosaur Four. It’s an adult time-travel thriller about ten everyday people trapped in the Cretaceous. It reads like a b-movie and the depictions of the dinosaurs are all fairly up-to-date.

    The Dinosaur Four is available as an ebook, paperback, or audiobook, and I can give you a copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. If you are interested, email me at GeoffJonesWriter [at] Gmail [dot] com.



  3. Doyle’s novel was based on a REAL PLACE! There really IS a vast plateau in South America. It is called Mount RORAIMA. It borders three countries: Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. Venezuela has the largest piece.
    This is a truly amazing place. If anyone has never heard of it, for Heaven’s sake check it out. Stunning, mysterious, dramatic, wild, vast, totally unexplored. EXACTLY the kind of place where dinosaurs would exist to-day. Do a Google image search of it. Watch the web documentaries of it. An utterly fascinating place. Much like Doyle described it: Hostile and inaccessible. It also has the World’s highest waterfall: Angel Falls: 900 METERS!


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