Blondes are becoming extinct, whilst the number of talking
primates who can swear in French is on the increase. In this
brave new world if you don't pay attention corporations will
steal your genetic material and make millions. The new frontier
is genetics, but who will control what is done and to who?
The only one constant appears to be that if there is money
involved corporations will stop at nothing to steal your bone
marrow. First it was baby sheep, then stem cell research,
will you be next?...
are a number of writers who have so mined the vein of their
genre that they have become masters. Stephen King always has
something nasty happening in New England, fog, dogs et al
and Michael Crichton excels in the field of "isn't science
scary when humans get their tiny mitts on it?"
Crichton's latest book, Next, focuses on the anxiety
creating subject of gene therapy, the latest scare which has
produced a Luddite reaction in a vast section of the general
book is well researched evidenced by the bibliography which
accompanies the novel - though a lot of the information, being
of a specialist nature, will go right over most peoples heads.
I have a medical background and still found some of the information
obscure, but Crichton does what he can to make the information
meaningful to the plot and for the most part succeeds. There
are also citations for the reproduced articles which are dotted
about the book and although they do little to advance the
plot their inclusion is often used to illuminate a situation
or to put it into some context.
Crichton has written some very lucrative and successful books,
including Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strains
and Prey. A lesser man might have retired on the back
of this, but Crichton's search for a new subject never seems
to end. The book is not to be taken too seriously. For instance,
one of the better characters is an orang-utan which can swear
at you in two different languages. And the idea that blondes
are to be extinct can be taken with a pinch of salt even though
there is a reference to it. I think part of Crichton'[s thrust
is to highlight just how susceptible some folks are at accepting
as gospel anything they read in print or on the Internet.
A healthy level of scepticism is always required for the inquiring
overall impression of the book is that it is a competently
written beach/aeroplane novel with lots of characters, though
little in the way of character development. Sad to say that
it is not one of his best books, but then this is all a matter
of taste. Crichton fans will find little in the way to complain
about, as would anyone who just wants a book that they can
pick up and read for ten minutes. The book is structured so
that it delivers the story in small sections with relatively
short paragraphs and chapters, and this is its biggest weakness.
With the action jumping all over the place it is very easy
to forget just what is going on and, as has been previously
noted, this style is at the expense of character development.
said, it still remains an interesting, enjoyable and witty