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Dinosaur Summer

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In 1947, dinosaurs are living free on a plateau in South America, and when adventurers Peter Belzoni and his father--on a mission to return the attractions of a dinosaur circus to their natural habitat--are stranded there after a vicious attack, they must outwit their predators long enough to escap

389 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1998

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About the author

Greg Bear

212 books1,867 followers
Greg Bear is one of the world's leading hard SF authors. He sold his first short story, at the age of fifteen, to Robert Lowndes's Famous Science Fiction.

A full-time writer, he lives in Washington State with his family. He is married to Astrid Anderson Bear. He is the son-in-law of Poul Anderson. They are the parents of two children, Erik and Alexandra.


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5 stars
88 (11%)
4 stars
226 (29%)
3 stars
322 (42%)
2 stars
93 (12%)
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30 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 81 reviews
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,056 reviews392 followers
March 14, 2017
Ack. Barely two pages in and reading "prodigy" for "prophecy." Not an auspicious start....

But I did love Doyle's story of Challenger's 'discovery' so I'll continue for now.

Ok done. Well. I was working through it, thinking two stars, until the last third, when it finally got interesting. The adventure, and the world-building, and the character development, and the exploration of ideas, all got more interesting there. Still, three stars is plenty. After all, it doesn't have Doyle's writing, or the character of Professor Challenger.

At least I didn't see more errors due to lack of editing.

And the pictures were cool. Some were useless excuses for DiTerlizzi to have fun, but some did actually *illustrate* some image or event from the text.

Long chapters... an intriguing strategy. Many authors use short chapters to persuade readers that the book is exciting, a page-turner... but this only has 19 in over 300 pp....

"... a real adventure, to accompany some fine and decent fellows and do something wonderful and foolish and brave."
Profile Image for Jonathon Von.
323 reviews31 followers
April 7, 2022
Mediocre but otherwise entertaining juvenile adventure. Surprisingly light on dinos and heavy on daddy issues. Would have been nicer to have more descriptions and interactions with the fearsome beasts but 13 year olds would probably find something to like anyway.
Profile Image for Steven.
Author 3 books7 followers
July 1, 2021
As the summer hits and I look for books to keep me occupied while fighting the heat, I cracked open this one (or rather, pulled it up on my devices to read it electronically).

For me, this is a solid four stars. Good plot, good pace, reasonable characters, and a mostly satisfying ending. The plot is mostly as described but a little more intricate. Anthony Belzoni is a photojournalist and divorced from Peter's mother because he's financially unstable and has an irrepressible desire to always be adventurous (not to mention a drinker and something of a womanizer). This strains his relationship with Peter (for whom he has custody) and their finances. When the chance comes to go on an adventure, Anthony takes it and Peter comes along (to be with his father and experience his father's life, as well as to earn some money from writing a diary about it).

The story then follows as Anthony, Peter, and a few others (including some famous movie types from the time period including Ray Harryhausen) make the trek from Florida to South America to return some of the dinosaurs from a failed dinosaur circus back to their home. It is very character driven -- which I really like -- though there are action sequences sprinkled throughout that keep things from getting droll. The dinosaurs play a minor part in the first book and a larger part in the second book, growing to a huge part in the last third or so of the third book. As you would expect, there are people running from dinosaurs, dinosaurs fighting dinosaurs, and dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs. There are no "bad guys" per se, though not everyone is a good guy. This applies to the dinosaurs as well. The ending is not really a happy one, but is mostly satisfying. There is one human death -- fairly predictable -- though not when and how you would expect.

While Greg Bear is regarded as a writer of "hard" sci-fi, there isn't a lot of it in this book and you don't need to be a geek to read and enjoy this book. It is an enjoyable book driven by the characters that doesn't demand a lot of mental resources to stay on top of. It's not a thrilling page-turner (until the end) and will likely take you several sittings to finish, but you do end up caring what happens and if you start are more than likely going to want to finish. As a standalone book (hooray!) with a complete story, this is quite good.
Profile Image for Notme.
389 reviews2 followers
January 6, 2013
Unfortunately the first half of this book was extremely slow-going & I had an off-on relationship with it that precluded any real involvement. Remembering all the characters after taking numerous breaks from this book was also a challenge, especially since they were mostly really sketchy, undeveloped and unbelievable (even thought some of them are based on real historical characters). Overall it was somehow too adult for kids, but too childish for adults. The second half developed some action, but by then I was just fighting to stay afloat and finish the darn thing. It was not bad, but if not for the fact that I am very persistent when it comes to books, and always try to finish what I started I might have not gotten to the part that I liked. As it is I am not entirely sure if it was worth to get through the first half of the book to get to the second. I would give it 2,5 stars and would not recommend or re-read it.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
645 reviews117 followers
July 13, 2010
A solid adventure yarn, set in 1940, using the events of The Lost World as a jumping off point to create an alternate history in which live dinosaurs are a matter of fact. The main character is a 15 yo boy who accompanies his father in the group of men returning the captive dinos in the last dino circus to the wild.
I especially loved the descriptions of the colors and patterns of the dinosaurs - very vivid!
Profile Image for George.
171 reviews4 followers
June 2, 2017
I'm a huge fan of Greg Bear's writing, most of the time. I'm fascinated by his hard-sci-fi approach to writing and have loved his books, from Darwin's Children and Moving Mars to Blood Music and Vitals. A few have been a bit lackluster, but I wouldn't rate any of them less than 3 stars. Dinosaur Summer is no exception. While it veers from the futuristic sci-fi of many of Bear's other books, it's a fascinating look at an alternate history with a strong paleontological and evolutionary look at dinosaurs.

Initially I was expecting a very Jurassic Park type of story, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the story is set in an alternate 1940s, assuming that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World novel was non-fiction. (That's what I get for grabbing a book based on just the author and not reading a summary, but I'm not complaining.) This sets up a wonderful adventure filled with character and nostalgia for a bygone era. In today's age of technology and information, it's refreshing to read a sci-fi story that doesn't focus on technology.

Overall, I found this a very enjoyable read. It was slow at parts, but still interesting. The last 40% of the story though, was an exciting adventure through an incredible world. As Bear is so good at, the scientific speculation is seamlessly integrated with an exciting story. This is a story that I'd love to see on the big screen. I think it's a much more interesting story than Jurassic Park, with just as much action. I highly recommend this read!

Kid Friendly Notes: My son is almost 11 now and is starting to thirst for more grown up storylines. This is one I'm considering letting him read. Peter, the protagonist, is a young man - maybe 17 or 18 years old, but still very much a kid (it wasn't until the end that I could pinpoint his age more than 14-18). There aren't many 'adult' situations in the story (some discussion about divorce and incompatible lifestyles between Peter's parents, a bit about drinking and smoking, and some comments about Peter's dad being a lady's man), and nothing explicit. There is a bit of language, but it's pretty mild (Peter's dad warns the others that he doesn't want language around his kid, so there are a few times where characters 'want' to swear, but hold back, and a few times where characters slip). There are a few instances of sh**, BS, and one or two GD, especially when things really get intense toward the end. But overall it's a lot more mild than a PG-13 movie... So I think it's one I'll let him read with the warning that if I hear him repeat any of those words he'll be in trouble (something he's heard plenty of times when watching movies with us).
Profile Image for Badseedgirl.
1,247 reviews61 followers
March 6, 2015
Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear reads like a "boy's adventure story". Think Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, and Huck Fin. There was action and adventure on almost every page. Plus Dinosaurs. Who does not get a thrill when they think of dinosaurs, and who does not secretly wish they could see one up close and in person, a herbivore one anyway. This novel is set in an alternate world where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World was real. The novel was excellent and motivated me to head over to The Gutenberg Project and get a copy of The Lost World. I give Dinosaur Summer 3.5 "Dinorific Stars out of 5
Profile Image for Andrew Post.
Author 1 book5 followers
April 20, 2018
Plodding and poorly phrased

The first part of the book was unnecessary. The second part was wooden, with long, cumbersome sentences and phrasing, and too many historical characters crammed in for their own sake. Short on action and long on underdeveloped plotlines and characters, that's this book.
Profile Image for Neil.
1,132 reviews9 followers
September 9, 2020
This was an okay novel; I am not sure how I would rate it, overall. I will decide by the end of this review if I will rate it higher than 2 stars this second time around. I first read this novel back when it first came out; we had a special showing of the original King Kong movie in 1996 or 1997 and prior to the showing, Greg Bear, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, and a fourth gentleman came out and spoke before the viewing. It was a lot of fun hearing these men speak (and I was able to meet them and shake hands with them after the movie was over); it was during their presentations that Greg Bear mentioned this book he was publishing "soon" and who was in it. That perked my interest enough for me to want to read it. I was a little disappointed with it back then; I expected more "action and adventure," more "excitement" than what was actually found between the covers. I am not sure what I expected, but what I read was not it. However, being on my "dino-fic kick" I'm on right now, I thought I'd give it another chance.

It's . . . slow. It's very slow. The author does an amazing job in terms of the detail involved, describing what it might be like to transport the remnants of a "dinosaur circus" from Florida back to their ancestral home in South America. It is almost too much detail, on the one hand, because it slows the story down a bit. Perhaps that is because I am still expecting it to be something it's not? It is also a "weird mix" of "modern points-of-view" interjected into a time when such views were not really prevalent (there are comments made about how the Natives of South America are treated, references to conservationism, stereotypes, and other similar "modern judgments") that seem a bit anachronistic considering the time period in which the story takes place (in the mid- to late-1940s, after WWII has ended). The story is broken into two books. The "first book" is ponderous; the pace doesn't really pick up until the latter half of the second book.

It is also a kind of "coming-of-age" story for one of the fictional main characters (Peter, who is traveling with his father to "record" the dinosaurs being released back into the wild). That being the case, the character development is a bit dismal. I am not familiar enough with the "real, non-fictional characters" who are in the book to say how accurately the author represented them (although there is a quote from Ray Harryhausen on the back that speaks quite highly of the story and how he is presented in the book), so I cannot say how I felt about how their characters may or may not have developed over the course of the novel. Peter's father, Anthony, got to be a bit annoying after a while; I am not sure why. The other character who probably had some of the best character development was "Billie" - he was an Indian from one of the local tribes around the tepui to which they were returning the dinosaurs; he was also looking for an opportunity to "become a man" like his father.

It was an okay book. It felt like the author was not sure in which direction to go, if he wanted it to be "exclusively YA but so an adult could enjoy it" or "adult-oriented but mild enough a YA could safely enjoy it." I enjoyed revisiting it, but it sure felt like it took forever to read; it was not smooth sailing. The author did do an excellent job at "world-building" in the novel , but there were times it felt like he was too focused on the "world-building" and not enough on the story (if that makes any sense). I do not know if I would recommend it to anybody, but it was a "decent enough read" (partly because of the personal nostalgia behind it) that I would probably rate it 2.5 - 2.6 stars, but rounded down to 2 stars. In any case, I am glad I reread it.

Profile Image for Lisa Wolf.
1,610 reviews173 followers
January 16, 2014
A big, old-fashioned adventure story, Dinosaur Summer starts from the premise that the events of The Lost World (the 1912 novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, not the Michael Crichton novel) are real. In Dinosaur Summer, Conan Doyle and his fellow adventurers discovered a hidden world in South America -- and now, 30 years later, dinosaur circuses are so commonplace that the public is no longer interested. When the last dinosaur circus closes down, 15-year-old Peter and his journalist father accompany the expedition that sets out to return the surviving dinosaurs to their native home on El Grande, the "lost world" plateau where dangerous and unknown creatures still live.

Filled with plenty of action, danger, and lots of bizarre animal species, the story is exciting and moves quickly -- except for a few draggy bits that have more to do with oil politics, indigenous tribes vs local governments, and Hollywood movie producers. The character of Peter is really engaging and interesting, as he starts to grow up, assert himself, and figure out his tense relationship with his father in the midst of this incredible journey.

All in all, quite a fun and entertaining read!

For more information, see my review at Bookshelf Fantasies.
Profile Image for Steve Joyce.
Author 1 book16 followers
August 29, 2017
Book One was pretty boring. Book Two was a little better but not by much.

What didn't work for me:
_the whole struggling dinosaur circus / apathy towards dinosaurs angle was weak. I doubt that the world would ever grow stale over such rare animals.
_the name-dropping. Sorry. Appendix explanations aside, no amount random throwing out names like F.D.R., Stalin, Hitler, Ringling Brothers, on and on, etc, etc will make anyone (at least, not me) feel immersed in the 1940s. It takes more writing than that.
_the overall flatness of the whole thing.

The only thing that even slightly worked was the character "Billy" (who was still grossly underdeveloped)

Look. I get it that this was probably written for young adults. But, I read Arthur Conan Doyle's original as a youngster and have done so again several times through the years. Each time it was something special. Not nearly so with Dinosaur Summer.
Profile Image for Owen.
37 reviews
July 20, 2021
This book exists in similar literary place to such classic works as Jurassic Park. Imagine, not only a world where dinosaurs are known to be real, but have also been so overextended for entertainment and monetary gain that most people are bored with them and ready for them to be relegated back to the land from which they came. It is into this world that we are dropped as an excursion takes shape to transfer the last of these no longer appreciated titans back to the wild. Somewhat predictably, calamity ensues as government interference meets classic killer instinct. Control of dinosaurs is lost and our heroes are stranded within an unfamiliar and hostile territory. Make no mistake, however, this is no simple tale of man vs dinosaurs in a strange world. The coming of age and character development is nothing short of amazing! This book will draw you in with dinosaurs but you will stay for your genuine investment into what becomes of this flawed but deeply moving cast of characters.
Profile Image for Jan Strnad.
Author 128 books26 followers
August 26, 2010
As a major dinosaur/King Kong/Harryhausen fan, I really, really wanted to love this book. It's about a boy's summer with his father, Ray Harryhausen, Willis O'Brien, and the makers of King Kong, as they close down a dinosaur circus and return to The Lost World of Arthur Conan Doyle to free the dinosaurs to the wild.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that it should have pushed all of my buttons, the writing is just too flat to engage me. The style is a rather lackluster, declarative one that I associate with young adult books. It describes the action without engaging the senses in a way that makes me feel the emotion of the moment. Sadly, after 125 pages I gave up as my TBR pile called to me.

I would still recommend Dinosaur Summer to young adults.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
537 reviews141 followers
August 23, 2016
I did not know a lot of things going into this novel. I did not know it was a young adult book. I did not know it was an unofficial "sequel" to The Lost World, or at least a fan piece taking place in that universe. I did not know it was a sensitive coming-of-age story.

Lesson learned: don't grab books just because they have dinosaurs on their covers.

2 stars out of 5. Too slow for too long, and when the dinos do show up they take a backseat to the myriad problems of troubled marriages, problem drinking, and teen angst. Come on--a dinosaur circus? That should be so cool! Give us action, give us excitement! It's disappointing when a book's summary is more engaging than the book itself.
Profile Image for Ray.
196 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2021
I absolutely loved this book, the best book dealing with dinosaurs since Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park", almost 30 years ago. 16-year old Peter and his adventurer/journalist dad, Anthony, are recruited to join a circus featuring dinosaurs in 1947. The circus is being sold, and the creatures are to be returned to their home dwelling in Venezuela. Along for the trip are real life characters Ray Harryhausen, Willis O'Brien, Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, John Ford, and John Ringling North. This was a terrific read.
Profile Image for Tentatively, Convenience.
Author 16 books191 followers
February 19, 2015
review of
Greg Bear's Dinosaur Summer
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 18, 2015

Once again, I can accuse myself of being in my '2nd childhood' b/c this is a bk targeted at younger readers or for "kids of all ages". It was only over a mnth ago that I read Robert Heinlein's Space Cadet (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... ). The problem is, I really enjoy reading these things, I read this one quickly & even though the trajectory of the plot was somewhat predictable I was engrossed in it anyway.

I didn't really know it was a kids bk, it was just another Bear bk to me. I've read 15 bks by Bear by now so I obviously like his work but he's still not one of my favorites. It's like reading a work in translation where you get the feeling that some of the original verve of the language is lost. In this case, of course, the writing lacks verve to begin w/. The writing's competent - but there's rarely or never anything that surprises me about it. Bear's an "idea man", many of his ideas are grand & visionary but his way of telling the story is a bit too dry. I think of him as a 'classic' "hard science" SF writer.

Anyway, one of the things that's most fun about this for me & all the other SF & Fantasy movie geeks is that this is a sequel of sorts to Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World that includes important figures in early dinosaur movies as characters - esp clay animation legend Ray Harryhausen.

According to wikipedia & other sources, Bear's reference to the Doyle story is only one of many that included:

1915: Russian scientist Vladimir Obruchev produced his own version of the "lost world" theme in the novel Plutonia

1916: Edgar Rice Burroughs published The Land That Time Forgot, his version of The Lost World

1926: a silent film adaption

1970: adapted in Czech comics by Vlastislav Toman/Jiří Veškrna

1994: release for the Forgotten Futures role-playing game was based on and includes the full text of the Professor Challenger novels and stories.

1995: Conan Doyle's title was reused by Michael Crichton in his novel The Lost World, a sequel to Jurassic Park.

1998: a movie directed by Bob Keen

1999-2002: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World is a syndicated television series loosely based on the 1912 novel

2002: animated adventure Dinosaur Island written by John Loy

Obviously, this idea of finding dinosaurs on Earth in contemporary times in a remote place has mythological staying power that appeals to many people. Perhaps what makes Bear's version somewhat unique is his inclusion of Harryhausen & other people important to the early history of movies inspired by dinosaurs & other metafauna: Willis O'Brien ("The Lost World", "King Kong"), & Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack ("King Kong").

In Harryhausen's bk entitled Film Fantasy Scrapbook he writes:

"In 1933 a star was born with the original and fascinating name of King Kong. Thirty-eight years after its release the film has become a classic in almost every country of the world. Its key advertising campaign was based on the words, "The Picture That Staggers the Imagination." As far as I am concerned there was never a more accurate statement made by a publicist, for this highly original film laid the basic foundation for my choice of career." - p 14

"The Lost World, initiated by Willis O'Brien in 1925, was the first feature film to employ the technique of three dimensional figure animation. His earlier experiments go back to 1914 when he made a number of short subjects with figurines for the old Edison Company." - p 15

Bear's narrative imagines a world in wch Doyle's characters have created dinosaur circuses that fascinated the public at 1st wch they then became jaded to. A side-effect of this is that Harryhausen's proposed animations don't appeal.

""Ray would like to animate things we've never seen before, creatures from Venus and Mars, Greek gods and fire-breathing dragons. But dinosaurs spoiled the public for any of out imaginary monsters." O'Brien raised his hands in resignation.

""Fickle," Anthony commiserated.

""At least we've got work," Harryhausen said softly.

""Yeah, moviemaking is about the public's dreams, not our own," O'Brien said with a sigh." - pp 41-42

Of course, Harryhausen's phenomenal animations went on to inspire such greats as Douglass St Claire Smith's "The Wad and the Worm" (1969) & "Reproduction Cycle" (1978) & Bruce Bickford, who collaborated w/ Frank Zappa from 1974 to 1980.

Bear's 'upgrade' of the story is different from earlier SF insofar as what constitutes a 'manly man' isn't necessarily someone who's gung-ho to blow away everything in his path:

""Do you wish you hadn't brought me?" Peter asked, his voice sharp.

""Yes," Anthony said. "But . . ."

""I haven't done anything stupid or wrong," Peter said in a rush. "I learned how to tend the dinosaurs . . . the animals. Vince—Mr. Shellabarger—thinks I'm doing well. I could learn to shoot—"

"Anthony gave him a stern look. "I don't want you to ever have to learn to shoot people."" - p 131

Dinosaur Summer is also 'upgraded' in the sense that it's a bit more respectful of the indigenous people than, say, a Tom Swift bk wd've been. Take this example from my review of Tom Swift and His Flying Lab:

""Yee-haw! Ride 'em cowboy! Yep, the myth of the Cowboys & the Injuns lives on:

""the Indians suddenly appeared again.

"""They're going to shoot!" Hanson cried. "Run!"

"""Wait!" Chow cried.

""To everyone's amazement, he stepped forward and haltingly spoke a jargon of guttural sounds. Slowly, smiles of understanding broke out on the faces of the Indians.

"""What are you telling them?" Tom asked.

"""That I fetched 'em some presents from the Lone Star State."


"""Sure thing. I'd never get caught in Injun country without some little ole knickknacks."

""From a pocket he pulled several cheap bracelets, rings, brooches, and four pearl necklaces, and distributed them." - pp 122-123" - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63...

Bear, at least, has the natives be hired hands competent at their work, NOT sidekicks, & somewhat in-tune w/ their environment:

"There, on a sandy bank by the water, he showed Peter bootprints. "They are going north. like us," Billie said.

"Peter touched the prints. "We can follow them."

""They go along this river. You follow. I will go another way."

"Peter thought about arguing with Billie and decided that he would be entirely too white a thing to do. "If you have to," Peter said.

"Billie nodded, "You find your father and the others and go back. You do not belong here."

""Don't I know it," Peter said.

""I will learn whether I belong," Billie said, looking down at the stream swirling beyond the mud and sand bank. "You take this. I go naked to steal Odosha's magic."

"He passed the machete to Peter, and two yuca roots." - p 262
Dinosaur Summer resonated partially w/ me b/c Charles Knight, a pioneer of dinosaur depiction artwork is mentioned. I just recently installed an exhibit of Knight's artwork at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

"New plants, new animals; he thought of the Charles Knight paintings he had seen in New York and tried to imagine them come to life. The forest was not static; it had changed, evolved, in the tens of millions of years since its isolation." - p 257

Another thing I liked here is Bear's frequent descriptions of smells. Am I just imagining this or is that something usually lacking? "The tunnel into the mound was not so small, but it was dark and smelled of skunk and vinegar and foul, beery burps, and beneath all those smells, the now-familiar parrot-cage odor—making him want to vomit." (p 301)

All in all, Dinosaur Summer is a vehicle for describing dinosaurs both historic and invented by Bear. I'm not really such a big dinosaur buff but I reckon this comes close to being a 'must-read' for people who are.

Also important is the way this fits into the literary genre of picking-up-where-other-writers-left-off. To some literati this might be 'blasphemous' but I'm sure that to many of us we're glad to have some things continue past the original author's death. Take, eg, Poodle Springs: a finishing of the great detective novelist Raymond Chandler's unfinished last novel by his admirer Robert B. Parker.
Profile Image for Guru.
179 reviews21 followers
August 7, 2018
"Dinosaur Summer" is a dino-crazed teen's dream novel. What if dinosaurs are still around, tucked away in a tepui deep inside the jungles of South America and discovered accidentally by a brave white explorers in the late 19th/early 20th century.
The novel is based in the 1950s or so, where dinosaur circuses have become all the rage in America. Now the circuses on a wane and the costs are too high for the promoters to maintain the shows. The last circus is dismantling its operations and the dinosaurs are being packed off to their original home. We see the story mainly through the eyes of a 15-year old, Peter, who tags along with his father to escort a bunch of dinosaurs back to the tepui. During the long sea voyage and the adventurous up-stream river journey, Peter and gang run into a number of challenges - sea-sickness, disease, corrupt officials, angry dinosaurs and angrier natives and so on.
The party gets stranded on the dinosaur habitat in the last 3rd of the book, which reads as a completely different story. They end up battling all sorts of obstacles, including carnivorous dinosaurs and flash floods.
To be honest, I bought the book because of the dino on the cover. I had no high expectations but Bear keeps a good pace going for most of the book. He steers away from the usual dinosaur trope and tries his best to make it like an original adventure story. He uses some actual historical figures like early film-legends Merian C. Cooper, Ray Harryhausen, Ernest Schoedsack and John Ford. In fact, in the book's universe, King Kong didn't do all that well because people could see real monsters in these dinosaur circuses! Also Sir Arthur C. Doyle's "Lost World" is not a fictional novel but an actual account of Professor Challenger who discovered the dinosaur sanctuary in the tepui!
Bear also stays away from the staple T-Rex, Diplodocus, etc. and instead invents some of his own dinosaurs that may have evolved in the last 65+ million years in the isolated tabletop. These include Altovenator ferox - a T-Rex like predator, Death Eagle - a ferocious giant flightless dino-bird hybrid predator, Communisaur - "social" dinosaurs who build elaborate structures to store food and raise their young and so on.
All this makes this a surprisingly fun read. Recommended if you ever were a dino-kid.
Profile Image for Candice.
4 reviews
May 28, 2019
“Adventure is nine tenths misery and one tenth disaster.”

I picked up Dinosaur Summer on the recommendation of a popular bookstore’s employee. I’ve found a number of good books this way, but I didn’t love Dinosaur Summer. I suspect the employee in question read the book when they were younger and had some nostalgia surrounding it.

Dinosaur Summer follows Peter, a boy living with his father, Anthony. Anthony is a down-on-his-luck journalist, but Peter is hoping to travel someplace fun for the summer anyway. Anthony fulfills his wish and takes Peter to the last dinosaur circus. After the performance, Anthony tells Peter the circus will be returning the dinosaurs to the tepui (flat-topped mountain) in South America where they’d originated.

As a kind of continuation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World, Dinosaur Summer asks the question, what if we found an isolated group of dinosaurs in the early 1900s? How would we fit them into our world? I liked the concept, as well as the concept of returning some of the last captured dinosaurs back to the wild, but I found the story difficult to get into. It takes the characters a long time to arrive at their destination and I didn’t find the conflicts they had along the way to be engaging. I would have liked to see a lot less misery and a lot more disaster.

I found the characters in this book to be unrealistic and unreliable. They didn’t seem to react to danger in believable ways and the interactions between Anthony and Peter didn’t feel like father and son interactions. I would have expected a lot more concern on Anthony’s part.

Overall I found Dinosaur Summer to be an okay read. I wouldn’t recommend it to many, but if you’re looking for a quick adventure with some real and speculated dinosaurs, this might be for you. If you’re looking for deep, meaningful character interactions, this book is not it.
Profile Image for Kend.
1,249 reviews67 followers
July 4, 2019
I don't have a lot of experience with Greg Bear, but this was a fun first introduction. It reads young, and would be a good fit for a library's middle grade or junior fiction section, with illustrations that back up that placement. With a touch of alternate history to it, a touch of the traveling carnival, and a big dollop of adventuring in the exotic wilds beyond the protective walls of Western civilization, this would have been my SHIT as a tween.

That said, yes, there are some problematic elements, mostly relating to the depiction and actions of the indigenous peoples the characters encounter along the way. Some pseudo-realistic history intrudes on occasion in that the relationship between a) the adventurers, b) the indigenous peoples, and c) the militarized colonizers is strained and complex, politically. I can see where Bear was wanting to go with this, but the constraints of a middle grade lexile level may have proved an uncomfortable fit. There certainly was a struggle throughout the book to balance the pacing of a more adult, political novel with a more action-driven, rambunctious story for tweens––but overall, I enjoyed myself. And given how obsessed I was with book series about young adventurers that I now TOTALLY see as problematic and maybe even downright toxic, I think Bear manages to stay on the right side of history more often than not, and certainly more often than many other books for young people did. 1998 was a rough year for children's fiction.
79 reviews
July 20, 2018
Greg Bear is a great writer, and objectively this is a good book. But I am not the target audience and it took me a month to slog my way through something that should have taken just a few days. That’s not really Bear’s fault;I should not have picked a book about a teenage boy going on an adventure with a bunch of grown men and dinosaurs. (Side note: I can only remember two female characters [minor characters, too!] in the book, and only one of those had a name.) It’s an interesting premise — what if some dinosaurs had survived to modern times, in a very remote region of South America? — and that premise is what piqued my interest, but the story couldn’t hold my attention. I’d recommend this for preteens who have an interest in dinosaurs. Or even an interest in monster movies like King Kong, as a large part of the plot is driven by characters in the movie industry wanting to film the dinosaurs.
Profile Image for Edward III.
Author 45 books43 followers
April 7, 2018
I admit I’m somewhat negligent when it comes to Greg Bear. He’s an SF icon with a wide body of work, most of which I haven’t read. I plan to change that. I like Bear’s style, his prose is easy and fluid, and it dragged me through the book. Great writer. A master. It hurt me to give the book three stars, but Dinosaur Summer didn’t grab me. I understand he was writing a version of The Lost World. I get it and read this book to learn from it. Here’s what I learned. Don’t spend 2/3 of the book on setup. Don’t take too long to arrive at the adventure location, and once there don’t have the characters walk through a zoo, with vivid yet lengthy descriptions. All that said the book was fun, told from a boy’s POV, like Boy’s Life. I recommend the book if you LOVED The Lost World, and its kin. Otherwise, do what I’m going to do and read a bunch of Mr. Bear’s other books.
Profile Image for Angela Myers.
Author 3 books38 followers
August 19, 2021
Usually I give a book three chapters to be interesting. This one took five, and even then it was barely interesting enough to keep me reading. It continued that way until I hit a page that said Part 2. That’s where the story starts. From there to the end, the book continues to pick up speed until it ends with a bang. The level of detail in the story is amazing to me, and while I found much of it unnecessary, I also found it impressive.
With a young protagonist, this is a coming-of-age book (perhaps for all the characters, actually), and it reads like a book written for a teen-aged boy. I don’t mean the language is simple, but that the adventure-filled plot would appeal more to a young man than to an adult.
This is the second book I’ve read by Greg Bear. I must not be choosing them well.
Profile Image for Data.
1,078 reviews
February 26, 2022
I expected so much of this book, because generally I really like what Greg Bear writes. And maybe that was the problem; I expected something similar to his other writing, but found it was was was both simpler, and a somewhat different genre. This would be an alternate history, following what Arthur C. Doyle wrote in The Lost World. The writing is more like "Lost" than like Bear's other writing; appropriate then. The characters were presented in an appropriate-to-the-times manner, but I found that none of them really took my fancy. So yeah, high adventure, at least in the last half of the book, but not enough else to make me really enthused.
Profile Image for Jonah Barrett.
Author 1 book8 followers
August 9, 2020
Great summertime read for a dino freak like me. Only about the last 1/3 of the book actually takes place on the plateau though. The world’s thoroughly fleshed out, but I wish Bear had focused more on the legacies of other characters from The Lost World, instead of real-life filmmakers from the 1920s-40s. The whole adventure has like .5 women in it, and the whole thing feels like a boy’s club at times. With all that being said, I really do love the world Bear has made, and it’s a great summer adventure to get lost in.
332 reviews1 follower
May 22, 2019
Having read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book, as well as Michael Crichton, and many other novels about Dinos, I was happy to read this. It had a nostalgic feeling to it, a YA flavor of it happening back in a time when it might just possibly have happened. The inclusion of actual people here and there added to the mystique and pull of the book.
Definitely adventurous and fun.
Profile Image for Sara Streit.
65 reviews2 followers
October 27, 2019
For the young adult in your life that is looking for a longer novel featuring dinosaurs and fantasy without any of the more troublesome coming-of-age plot lines that typify the genre.

I'll hold onto it for my tween boy who will benefit from the simplistic sentence structure and vocabulary as English is his second (reading) language.
614 reviews
August 21, 2020
Ch.10 - the father/son dynamic at the heart of the story didn’t work for me. As for the rest, a lot on boats & then the Wild West of Venezuela. Dinosaurs aren’t much a part of the book to this point except as cargo so, bo-ring... it’s called “DINOSAUR Summer,” not “ODD FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIP SUMMER ROAD-SEA TRIP (featuring dinosaurs),” am I right?
Profile Image for Donna.
1,603 reviews24 followers
November 10, 2020
This started off a bit slow. The idea of finding a lost world of dinosaurs and capturing some for dinosaur themed circuses was interesting. This book picked up when the world of dino circuses were coming to an end and they decided to take the dinos back to their homes. I enjoyed learning about the different types of creatures on the El Grande. Overall, an enjoyable adventure.
Profile Image for Oliver.
387 reviews2 followers
July 15, 2020
Ein Sympathie-Bonuspunkt dafür, dass dies eine Pastiche von ACDs "The Lost World" ist und Filmlegenden wie Ray Harryhausen, die King Kong-Macher und John Ford auftreten lässt. Ansonsten aber leider ein viel zu langer, redundanter, nach hinten raus eher langatmiger Roman.
4 reviews
September 13, 2020
Turns out dinosaurs are actually really boring?

Literate writing. The adventure comes way too late; the reader is bogged down in 100 pages of well-researched but dull politics and literal sh*t shoveling before anything interesting happens.
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