Thursday, October 23, 2008

Prey--Michael Crichton -- reviewer Lee Pletzers

Reviewed by Lee Pletzers,
ISBN: 0-06-101572-5, Copyright 2002 Michael Crichton, Published by Avon Books.

Sometimes you come across a Crichton book that absolutely rocks, like Timeline, and sometimes you come across a book that just simply dies in mid-a, like Congo.

Prey lingers somewhere in the middle of utter crap and total brilliance. This book has some exciting moments and contains a heap of humor that is actually funny, which does as it should--it relaxes the tension. The only thing of concern is the lack of tension in the first place.

The book is about Jack, a software writer who ends up being a house-dad and raising the kids when he gets fired from work. His wife, Julia, is working for a company called Xymos Technology and they are making great advancements in nano robotic technology. So much so that the nano particles are starting to evolve. But the experiment has gone wrong. During their evolving, the nanoparticles broke free of the safety precautions set into their programming buy their makers. And now they are self producing and flocking. They attack anything that moves and kills outright.

They call Julia’s husband, Jack, to help them get the situation under control. The company is using Jack’s old software to program the nanoparticles. It is a program that learns from experience. And the nanoparticles are learning way too fast.

Jack is against a wall almost straight away; information is being held from him; parts of the code has vanished and Ricky (the head honcho) is not aiding Jack’s efforts. He seems to be against Jack wanting to destroy the nanoparticles as that is the only way to stop them. Problem is, Jack doesn’t know how to kill them. But they know how to kill him and the others in the main building. If only they could find a way inside…and the real slaughter could begin.

Crichton has really done his homework for this book. I think he must have spent every spare second researching this topic. It is a great topic with hundreds of possibilities. The problem with the book begins when Jack gets to Xymos and starts work. The author leaps into deep explanations of everything technical. This info is probably needed but it is damn boring when the reader is ready for the action and having enough background to keep the story flowing and believable. This extra info could be added to the end of the book like an index and glossary and then we could have cut 70 pages of over-explanation from killing the story flow.

This is a highly technical book and not for those suffering from techno-phobia. Lighten up on the explanations (readers are not idiots), we can grip the scene being played out, especially from such a talented writer as Michael Crichton.

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