Monday, December 7, 2009


Prey By Michael Crichton

I’m a reader. I read often and a lot. Some books I read to learn, and some I read purely for pleasure although I obtain new knowledge from everything I read.

Recently I finished ‘‘Prey’’ a techno-thriller written by Michael Crichton in 2002. All right, I admit that I’m sometimes BEHIND in my reading, this one has been on the shelf for a few years, but I still found it enjoyable reading even by today’s standards and I think it will make a great movie.

Narrator, Jack Forman, ominously tells us on the first page, ''Things never turn out the way you think they will.'' Jack is a 40-year-old programming manager in Silicon Valley. He has recently been fired from his job after detecting some shady dealings at his company. Now he is reduced to being a full-time soccer dad of three.

Meanwhile, his wife, Julia, has become ever more powerful at the company where she works, Xymos Technology. She is the kind of ambitious woman we’ve seen before in Crichton novels.

Odd events move us along as Jack and Julia's baby develops a weird red rash, which miraculously clears up when she undergoes an emergency room M.R.I. Memory chips in household devices mysteriously disintegrate. Julia grows tougher, tenser, and ever distant. The big question now becomes: is she having an affair?

Crichton's characters sometimes tend to be a bit flat -- and this novel had too many stock characters. No one does anything really unexpected, and the evil characters might as well be wearing signs reading: "DANGER! Will Robinson! DANGER!” Still, most of the dialogue isn't too wooden and unreal, and Jack is a tolerable narrator during this book.

“Prey” is a passable thriller. Crichton doesn't write with the greatest style, but his prose isn't terrible either. He certainly packs a lot into this novel -- science! Technology! Action! Domestic life! Marital infidelity! Monsters! The thrill of the hunt! Etc., etc. And he keeps things moving quite well.

The book is a tad unbelievable in more ways than I could count; yet I kept turning the pages feverishly. Despite its silly moments, ''Prey'' is irresistibly suspenseful. You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another, even if the two levels do ultimately wander. Of course, I cannot say I was entirely surprised by the ending, which I will not divulge here just in case you haven’t meandered across this book yet.

This wasn’t the best Crichton novel I’ve ever read but it moved along well enough to maintain his reputation as one of the most ingenious, inventive thriller writers around. Thankfully I still have a few more of his novels on the shelf to read and I’m quite confident that when I’m through with all of them, I can start reading again from the beginning and still be entertained.

Prey by Michael Crichton



Anonymous said...

I've only read a few Crichton books. Jurassic Park of course, Terminal Man years and years and years ago, The Andromeda Strain which was good, and Disclosure.

I enjoyed them all, but didn't consider them from a writing craft perspective. It'd be interesting to see what I think of Dr. Crichton's work now.


Susan Beth Studio said...

I've only read the "Jurassic Park" series, but now you've peaked my interest. Because I'm writing for children I do read many children's and YA books. Many I'm sorry to say are written far better than lots of adult books - of course the HUGE exceptions being Mr. King, and also "IMO" Nevada Barr and Diane Mott Davidson! Thanks for the revue Weezel....

V.R. Leavitt said...

Thanks for the honest review. I can't really get in to Crichton's work usually. I liked the aforementioned Jurassic Park, but found myself struggling through others like "Timeline." I have heard that the new one, "Pirate Latitudes" is really good. I'll have to give "Prey" a whirl.