Why I Didn’t Finish: Dinotopia Lost – Alan Dean Foster

“Come quick, Captain, Mr. Smiggens, you all come quick now!”
“Settle down, man.” Blackstrap wiped juice and seeds from his mouth. They lingered in his mustache. “What’s the trouble?”
The Malay was fairly hopping back the way he’d come, beckoning frantically. “You come see, Captain, sir, come see now!”
“What the devil is he on about?” Irritated, Blackstrap drew his cutlass. “Speak up man, or I’ll cut out your tongue!”
“We not only ones gathering fruit!”
“Natives?” Rising from where they’d been sitting or leaning, the other men were instantly alert.
“No natives, no natives.”…
Alone among the landing party, only Chin-lee, an escaped thief from Canton, was confident he knew.
“There be dragons here, Captain!”
Blackstrap turned a dubious gaze on the smaller man. “Dragons?”…
“Dragons.” Chin-lee was insistent. “But little ones.”” (page 48-50)

Title: Dinotopia Lost                                                                                                  Written by: Alan Dean Foster
Genre: Science-Fiction
Publisher: Turner Pub
Publication Date: 1996
Paperback: 336 pages

I have a suggestion: if you can get a third into a book and don’t care one iota about what happens to the characters or the plot JUST STOP READING.

Of course, I am not your mother, so feel free not to follow this advice.

For years, I could never permanently put down a book I had started because that felt like failure. It felt like I was giving up on a glorious quest of words and pages, like I was quitting, like I was showing weakness. And besides, who knew if the book I was abandoning would turn out to be the best book ever written?

(That sounds so booknerdishly noble.)

Fast forward to today and into my I-Don’t-Have-Time-To-Read-Bad-Books life.

I either like a book enough to finish it or I’ll stop reading and write a blog post slamming everything I didn’t like about it.

There is no in-between.

Anyway, on to the actual slamming.

Dinotopia Lost.

It’s like Dinotopia but bad.

The plot was – meh. Not great but not horrible either.

There are dinosaurs on an island!(yay!) There’s a big bad storm coming (oh no!)! There is a bunch of random pirates who appear out of nowhere and kidnap dinosaurs! (duh-duh-DUH!!!!!)

The writing was cringe worthy (and cringe receiving).

For example, in one scene the dinosaur calls his wife “Incubator of my eggs

Not kidding, that’s in the book.

Why he couldn’t have called her ‘wife’, or ‘dearest’, or better yet: nothing at all and just spoken to her, is completely beyond my imagination.

An online dictionary describes flowery prose as: (… speech or writing) full of elaborate or literary words and phrases.

And according to Professor Wikipedia, purple prose is defined as:

(P)rose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors.

If Dinotopia Lost were a field it would be full of flowers – purple flowers.

Plus, all the dialogue felt stilted and forced.

My last complaint is that the book was basically author approved fan-fiction. One of the dinosaurs is running through the forest and mentions how at the next “Junior Olympics at Sauropolis” she will have no trouble winning the race.

No one except die-hard Dinotopia fans even knows what the “Junior Olympics at Sauropolis” is.

But in the book’s defense – who else would read Dinotpia Lost except die-hard fans?

Me apparently.

If the book had focused on Will Denison and Silvia or Arthur Denison – the main characters in the original Dinotopia book (review HERE) – I wouldn’t have minded the terrible writing, and blatant fan-fic-iness as much. But instead, the story is about a family of Struthiomimuses’ who get kidnapped by Brognar Blackstrap and his evil band of multicultural pirates – so I minded very much .

On the bright side the book mentioned dragons – AKA, my not-so-secret weakness.

I recommend Dinotopia Lost for die-hard fans of James Gurney’s Dinotopia series or those who are stranded on a desert island with Dinotopia Lost as their only reading material.

For More Information About the Book and Author Click: HERE or HERE

For More Information About James Gurney Click: HERE

Age Range: 14 and up



Violence: A dinosaur is poked with a spear and he bleeds. Pirates smell dead and rotting dinosaurs. Pirate hit by a falling piece of ship. Man says he’ll eat his comrades. Pirates shoot at an escaping dinosaur. Captain hits people. Velociraptors eaten by an allosaurus.

Sensuality: Description of romantic dinosaur actions and dinosaur private parts. Will is engaged to Silvia. A tutor is chased away by an angry father because the tutor fell in love with the man’s daughter. “Incubator of my eggs.

Profanity: d–n, (people are called) long pigs, and heathens.

Other: Description of a dinosaur boneyard. Dinosaurs are evacuating from their homes because of approaching storm. Someone sings a death song. Dinotopians worship nature. The pirate captain is constantly threatening and wishing death to his crew. Pirates make a dinosaur trap. Broken legs, a witch doctor, evolution, a twisted ankle, angry gods, breaking out of prison, Lucifer, “lord Buddha”, meeting Davy Jones with crushed bones, a crocodile overturning a boat and eating the men inside, cannibals, drinking,  lying, cheating, steeling, and cutting men’s throats are mentioned.

Personal Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

One thought on “Why I Didn’t Finish: Dinotopia Lost – Alan Dean Foster”

  1. ADF has been a fixture of movie novelizations and movie tie-ins since the 70’s. Just a few days before your post Amazon send me a recommendation for his new book “Relic” (a stand-alone, non-movie tie-in book). I was actually surprised to learn he was still alive and writing.
    ADF was responsible for fleshing out the Star Wars universe in his novelization of the first (episode 4) movie. He continued that fleshing out in his second Star Wars novel, “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” and then had Lucas ret-con major portions in episodes 5 and 6.
    He can be a decent writer. I didn’t care for his episode 4 novelization, but liked Splinter.
    Not all that is derivative in the form of novelizations or tie-ins should be dismissed as hack or just fan-fic. Sometimes the best creativity happens under the most limiting constraints. Of course, as in the case of this Dinotopia novel, your mileage may vary.


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