Book Review - Micro: A Novel by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
It's been a while since I've picked up a novel by Michael Crichton. When our library put Micro by Crichton and Richard Preston into circulation, I grabbed a copy in order to try and catch up a bit. I was a bit surprised when I read the intro and found that Crichton had died and Preston took over to finish the novel. I think I probably heard or knew about his death at one point, but I certainly hadn't remembered. So how does this Crichton/Preston novel fare? I'll be honest... to try and compare this to prior Crichton novels would be nearly impossible for me due to the large gap in time between when I last read one of his works and now. I have to go on the merits of Micro on its own. In that light, this was an OK read that would have been nice to have as a vacation book. It's not unforgettable, but it's not horrible, either.
A group of engineering students from Cambridge are approached about coming to work for Nanigen, a hot start-up in Hawaii working in the microbiology field. One of the students, Peter Jansen, is the brother of one of the principles, and that's enough to get the students to fly out (courtesy of the company) to see first-hand what Nanigen is doing. But when Jansen's brother dies in a boating accident prior to the trip, Peter starts digging into the incident, as something seems off. Vin Drake, the CEO of Nanigen, is less than happy about Peter's probing, and decides that he can put a stop to it by giving the students a real-life demonstration of their technology. The students are shrunk down to one-half inch, and Drake figures that he can eliminate them while staging a fake accident that would explain their disappearance with no trace. The situation gets more complicated when the students are able to escape, and Drake mobilizes all his resources to clean up the situation. Finding people that small is not always an easy matter, however...
Having a group of miniaturized people in the lush tropical environment of Hawaii lets the story unfold in some creative ways. Insects become deadly predators, and man goes from the top of the food chain to the sub-basement. The authors do a good job in describing the environment from those perspectives, and I thought that worked very well. Of course, you have to be willing to work with the premise that this is all possible, and that these experiments having been going on for some time with no one catching on. There wasn't a lot of backstory to the characters, the result being a small bit of flatness in terms of motivations. I will admit that I was surprised on a few points as the story played out, as it took some detours in terms of what happens to whom along the way. It kept me turning pages to see what would happen next, though. :)
Micro won't win any literary awards or cause someone to spend hours thinking of the implications of microbiology. It's more along the lines of an action/adventure movie that would entertain you for a couple of hours while you munched on popcorn. Taken in that light, it's not bad. You definitely won't look at insects the same way again, though.
Obtained From: Library