Book Review: Prey by Michael Crichton

Book 1/20 down. I hope I can actually stick to my reading goal for this year. I have a habit of spending more time reading think pieces and short essays rather than books these days, but I freaking love books, so I want to get back to that.

The first book I finished this year is Prey by Michael Crichton. Prey definitely follows Crichton’s pattern of entertaining and relatable science fiction that is grounded in well researched, real world science concepts. This particular story focuses on the intersection of Nanotechnology, Bioscience, and Artificial Intelligence. Written in 2002 and based on contemporary research from the time that suggested the possibility that these three areas of study could eventually intertwine, Crichton created a sort of “monster thriller” where the monster is actually a swarm of nanobots with the ability to “evolve”. At times I could feel the science being stretched a bit, but not so far that it took me out of the realm of possibility.

One thing I liked about this novel was the format. Broken into parts and with the first part, nearly a third of the book, spent with the main character in his home life… with only a hint at what was coming in a weeks time from the prologue. You meet Jack as an out of work, Silicon Valley programmer who got dicked over by his last company. He’s playing stay at home dad to his kids while his wife is becoming more and more distant, short fused, and engrossed in her work. Crichton walks a fine line in regard to how their crumbling relationship is handled. I am generally dubious of story lines which involve a wife/mom who “cares more about her work than her husband/kids” but in this case it was handled well… i.e. Not Sexist.

The pacing and plot were great. Once you get into the action of the second half you will find it hard to put down. What I have always loved about Crichton’s novels is how he can write fact based science fiction without it being dry or dense. I need my sci-fi to be at least somewhat plausible (otherwise it’s just fantasy/magic) and I like the way he also tackles some philosophical, environmental, and ethical issues at the same time.

Overall, I loved this book. Kinda wish there was a movie… but also kinda don’t… because let’s face it: Swarms of murderous nanobots would be hard to do well.

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