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Micro: A Novel Hardcover – November 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


Amazon Exclusive: “Micro is Anything But Small” by James Rollins

An avid spelunker and scuba enthusiast, James Rollins holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine and is the author of the New York Times best-selling Sigma Force series, the most recent of which is The Devil Colony.

First I have to admit, Michael Crichton is why I write. In fact, if not for his books, I’d probably still be a practicing veterinarian in Northern California, dealing with flea allergies, ear infections, and all manner of medical maladies. It was Crichton’s stories of wild adventures, his explorations into the strange frontiers of science, and his truly ripped-from-the-headlines plotting that inspired me to set down my own scalpel and stethoscope and pick up pen and paper.

But his influence went beyond mere heady inspiration. His books also served as a tutorial into the practicalities of storytelling. When I tackled my first novel (a deep-earth adventure titled Subterranean), I continually kept a copy of Jurassic Park on the shelf above my desk. That book became my roadmap on how to build a story’s structure: who dies first and when, at what point do we see the first dinosaur, how do you fold science into a novel without stagnating the flow? That old copy of Jurassic Park remains dog-eared and heavily highlighted, and it still holds a cherished place on my bookshelf.

So I dove into Crichton’s latest novel, Micro, with some trepidation, fearing how a collaborative effort might tarnish his great body of work. Now, to be fair, I’d also read Richard Preston’s nonfiction masterpiece of scientific horror and intrigue, The Hot Zone. That book was as brilliant as it was terrifying. But still I wondered, could Preston take Crichton’s story and truly do it justice?

In a word: YES.

In two words, HELL YES.

Micro is pure Crichton. Dare I say, vintage Crichton, harkening back to the scientific intrigue of Andromeda Strain, to the exploration of the natural world covered in Congo, and to the adventure and thrills of The Lost World. As only Crichton can, he has taken a scientific concept as wild as the one he tackled in Timeline and exceeded in making it chillingly real. It took a clever quirk of genetics and cloning to give rise to the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Likewise, a twist of science in Micro calls forth a new horror out of the natural world—but not just one line of threat. In this book, the entire biosphere becomes a vast and deadly playground. Its depiction is both darkly beautiful and stunningly dreadful. It is a terrain as foreign as any hostile planet, yet as close as our own backyard. To tell more would ruin a great adventure that will have you looking out your window with new eyes.

Similarly, this lethal and toxic terrain must be traversed by a band of gutsy heroes. But in typical Crichton style, these are not elite commandos or a highly trained black ops team. They’re simply a group of graduate students—each uniquely talented and flawed—gathered from various scientific disciplines: entomology, toxicology, botany, biochemistry. They must learn to combine resources and ingenuities to survive and ultimately thwart a danger threatening to break free into the world at large, all the while pursued by a sociopath as cunning as he is sadistic.

In the end, Micro has everything you’d expect in a Crichton novel—and so much more. But the greatest achievement here is a simple and profound one: with this novel, the legacy of a true master continues to shine forth in all its multifaceted glory. And someone somewhere will read this novel, turn the last page, and in a great aura of awe and inspiration, come to a realization: I want to try to write stories like that.

And they will.

Review

Praise for Michael Crichton: 'One of the most ingenious, inventive thriller writers around ! Prey sees him doing what he does best -- taking the very latest scientific advances and showing us their potentially terrifying underbelly. Another high-concept treat ! written in consummate page-turning style' Observer 'This is Crichton on top form, preying on our fears about new technology and convincing us that we aren't half as afraid as we should be' The Times on Prey 'Mixing cutting-edge science with thrills and spills, this is classic Crichton' Daily Mirror on Prey 'A satirical black-comedy thriller! Crichton writes likes Tom Wolfe on speed! completely brilliant! Crichton's treatise on how breakthroughs in genetic science have been hijacked by science is anything but dull! top form' Daily Mail on Next 'The pages whip by. Does exactly what you want the prose in a thriller to do' Telegraph on State of Fear --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060873027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060873028
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (714 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Michael Crichton was born in Chicago in 1942. His novels include Next, State of Fear, Prey, Timeline, Jurassic Park, and The Andromeda Strain. He was also the creator of the television series ER. One of the most popular writers in the world, his books have been made into thirteen films, and translated in thirty-six languages. He died in 2008.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

183 of 207 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was, and am, a huge fan of Michael Crichton's work. I never had very high expectations for this final novel, but that's no reflection on the choice of Richard Preston to complete the work. In any case, for better or worse, Micro lived up to my tempered expectations.

Like several of Crichton's earlier novels, Micro has a high concept hook. Most nanotech companies fabricate on a nano scale, but Nanigen MicroTechnologies has developed revolutionary shrinking technology. Not only can they reduce machines and robots, they can reduce living beings and then return them to full size. I won't get into all the details of the novel's set-up, but seven graduate students learn about this technology the hard way once they become a threat to Nanigen's president. Seven against one is much easier to manage when the seven (and one unlucky Nanigen employee) are half an inch tall. Before they can be dispatched quickly, however, the students escape into Hawaii's verdant "micro world."

Crichton's strengths and weaknesses as a storyteller remain consistent. His primary characters are more archetypes than individuals. Rather than Rick, Erika, Amar, and Karen, these students quickly show themselves to be the Leader, the Warrior, the Know It All, the Weasel, and so forth. Each has an assigned role to fulfill. Some barely live long enough to become typecast, because the micro world is treacherous. When you're half an inch tall, a beetle is not unlike a rhinoceros. Luckily, these students are unusually well prepared to survive their hostile surroundings--or unusually well informed about the danger they're in--depending on how you look at it. Among them there are experts in insects and arachnids, poisons and venoms, and the chemical defenses of plants and animals.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Tomorrow's Man on September 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I've seen a few reviews on here that imply that the reader "outgrew" the writer and other ridiculous statements; this book clearly had a minimal ratio of Crichton's work compared to Mr. Preston and who knows how many countless editors along the way. This simply isn't a Crichton book. Crichton's writing was at once detailed and complex, but able to keep the reader flowing through the concepts regardless of how difficult the topical material could be; this book suffers immeasurably from nothing more than either entry-level writing or horrendous editing.

The book reads much like this. The book reads like a bad book. And the book starts most of the sentences with And or But or Then. Then the book stops the plot to explain that a character is in the book because of their Passion for Robots. And for Technology. And they are not a nice character. And they did some very bad things. Then they killed someone. But we can't say who. Not yet but we will.

It doesn't read like a children's book, it reads like it was written by a child.

If I could be at all compassionate, I could speculate that much of the material is indeed Crichton's -- but a very early draft, when he was still sketching out the characters, the progress of the plot, the scenery and scenarios; constant sentence fragments and dangling participles are indicative of a rough draft. If this is the case, then micro is an even greater injustice to Crichton's body of work, as he clearly would not have exposed such coarse-hewn pages to the world before he had re-crafted them expertly.
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78 of 98 people found the following review helpful By P. Laird on December 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I think I have read almost all of Michael Crichton's "science thriller adventure" novels, and seen most of the movies based on them -- "The Andromeda Strain" (the original) and "Jurassic Park" being the best, or at least most enjoyable, in my opinion.

It's my great hope that "Micro", Crichton's last book (finished after his death by Richard Preston) never gets adapted into a movie... although in a time when stupid ideas get made into huge, stupid movies, it probably will.

"Micro" begins somewhat promisingly, with the mysterious deaths of several men, killed with a succession of tiny cuts inflicted by unseen forces.

And then it goes downhill.

No, that's too mild -- it CAREENS downhill.

We're introduced to seven graduate students from Massachusetts -- none of them at all memorable as characters -- who are induced to come to Hawaii to work with a new company called Nanigen. Within a short time of their arrival, they are lured into a room where a big machine shrinks them down to roughly one-half an inch tall... and a chapter or so later, they are struggling to survive in the Hawaiian jungle, fighting for their lives against insects and other creatures, as well as natural phenomena which are now potentially fatal at their vastly reduced size.

Now, that's a premise which could have been a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of stories of people being shrunk down and having to deal with life at a tiny size -- "The Incredible Shrinking Man" is one of my favorite movies. It's a scenario filled with opportunities for wonder, excitement and peril.

Of course, it helps -- no, it's NECESSARY -- to support such a ludicrous premise with consistent logic, and people it with characters you can care about.
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