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Review: Micro (By Michael Crichton and Richard Preston)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 540 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Eric Hansen works at Nanigen Micro-technologies, a company whose operations and products are shrouded in secrecy. But Nanigen is huge and stands at the cutting edge of science and technology. Eric, his girlfriend and company CFO, Alyson, and Nanigen CEO, Vincent Drake, travel across the country looking for new recruits who would want to take advantage of the technology and equipment at Nanigen, tools that could help them shape the future. Eric’s brother, Peter, and his six colleagues accept an offer to visit Nanigen before deciding whether they want to be employed by the company.

But the day before the visit, Peter gets a message from Eric telling him not to come. Before he can decipher the short and abrupt message, he gets a call from Alyson. His brother, Eric, died in a boating accident. Shocked and confused, Peter travels to Hawai, where Nanigen is located, a day before his colleagues. He is barely able to digest the information he receives over the next twenty-four hours. And decides to confront the people he believes are responsible for Eric’s death. But things don’t go as planned. Peter and his friends are exposed to the bizarre technology that Nanigen has perfected, and tossed into the rainforest. Now, it is up to these seven young individuals to find a way back home before nature defeats their survival instinct. In the wild, you don’t get points for trying. It’s either win or lose for Peter and his friends. And the only thing at stake, is their lives.

The Bottom Line:

An interesting but too fantastic premise, which lays the groundwork for a fast-paced thriller that falls short of being truly Crichton-esque.

My take:

Micro received a lot of flak for being very un-Crichton-like. One of the main problems that readers have been vocal about is that the language isn’t Crichton’s style, and the disparity too obvious and, consequently, unpleasant.

But, given that it was supposed to be his last (unfinished) work, I didn’t go in expecting too much, which is probably why that disparity (which really is obvious) didn’t bother me too much. I did draw parallels to Crichton’s other work, although that was more on the things that I really like about his work, and not as much on style.

Coming to the review of Micro

The story itself is good, even if it’s a bit on the fantastic side. I mean, re-engineering dinosaurs through fossilized mosquitoes and frog DNA is actually more believable than the scientific premise of Micro. The lack of scientific explanation may be the reason, but the entire premise is sort of a given, and you’re just supposed to believe it. There is no moral discussion on it, there is no skepticism, and there’s very little time (in the story arc) to even understand the tech (for characters or readers). That makes the entire sci-fi angle, which could have been pretty great, fall a bit flat.

The rest of the story is interesting though. You get a detailed look into how dangerous nature can be, and the character arcs move along pretty well. There is an expected bit of violence, but the extent of its graphic nature can catch you a bit off-guard. The story moves along smoothly, and is fast-paced. The plot twists aren’t really surprising, but do add interesting dimensions to the story.

What I really missed in Micro, though, was the detail to human nature.

Crichton’s work has a very unique perspective on human nature, and the many good and bad things it makes people do. It’s not explicitly described, but can be gleaned from his choice of dialog and character development. And it’s always instrumental in the way the story progresses. That is something that I’ve always loved about his work and really missed in Micro.

The lack of that touch is also probably what makes Micro move along like an interesting sci-fi, mystery read, but doesn’t leave an incredible impression like many of his other books. The style of the book is also more mystery-like than sci-fi, something that will strike (and has struck) a lot of Crichton fans as odd and unpleasant.

All in all, Micro is an interesting read for many reasons (general story, pace, thrill), and so makes for an enjoyable experience (minus some aspects). But it isn’t really Crichton-esque. So, I’d recommend the book to those who enjoy all types of sci-fi; but if you’re a hard-core Crichton fan, only pick this book up if you can do so with no expectations.

Read Micro? Share your thoughts on the book and what you liked/disliked about it in the comments section below!

– Rishika

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