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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, suspenseful, fast-paced science fiction thriller
I was recently surprised to find this novel on one of my shelves; I saw the movie adaptation of the novel recently but did not remember owning the actual book. The movie was full of promise but ultimately disappointing, so I was pretty curious to see how good a read the actual novel was. Sphere is my first Michael Crichton novel, and I have to say I was quite impressed...
Published on November 29, 2003 by Daniel Jolley

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It was really great until...
I was enthralled by this book from the very beginning. Imagine, scientists discover an ancient spaceship at the bottom of the ocean only to discover it's true origin is a little closer to home.
I have loved every Chrichton novel and this one was no different, at first. The story was tense, thrilling and the very last chapter killed the entire book for me. I won't...
Published on September 5, 2001 by samuel jessup


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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, suspenseful, fast-paced science fiction thriller, November 29, 2003
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
I was recently surprised to find this novel on one of my shelves; I saw the movie adaptation of the novel recently but did not remember owning the actual book. The movie was full of promise but ultimately disappointing, so I was pretty curious to see how good a read the actual novel was. Sphere is my first Michael Crichton novel, and I have to say I was quite impressed with Crichton's prowess. There are some logical flaws and inconsistencies in the plot, but Crichton is an incredibly gifted storyteller; I eagerly breezed through this novel in short order. While it is heavy on dialogue, the story touches on a number of aspects of the human personality while mixing in some profound if problematic science fiction in the process. This is a fast-paced thriller that definitely registers impressively on the suspense meter, particularly during the climactic late chapters. While the ending is something of a letdown, the story leading up to it is gripping and fascinating, and important clues and plot points are presented with much more subtlety and effectiveness than what you will find in the movie adaptation.
The novel is built around an incredible discovery; in the middle of the South Pacific, lying all but buried on the bottom of the ocean, rests a spacecraft of unknown origin. Psychologist Norman Johnson, the author of a secret government paper on Recommendations for the Human Contact Team to Interact with Unknown Life Forms (a less than serious paper he wrote primarily for the money) is called to the site, where he is informed that he will be part of a team of scientists sent to study the mysterious craft. Alongside him are an irascible Navy project commander, a brilliant, young astrophysicist/planetary geologist, a complicated female zoologist/biochemist, and a noted mathematician/logician. This unlikely team of deep ocean explorers soon find themselves in an artificial habitat resting alongside the location of the mysterious ship. Their exploration of the site yields more questions than answers, as the ship turns out to be an American spaceship from the future. The truly enigmatic discovery onboard, though, is a giant sphere of unknown composition. As the story unfolds, the team of explorers finds themselves effectively stranded on the ocean floor for a period of some days, and strange and frightening things begin to happen after one scientist somehow enters the sphere. The scientists find themselves in communication with a supposedly alien entity who calls himself Jerry; whoever and whatever Jerry is, he seems to have the power to manifest remarkable physical creations and changes in reality. The habitat and the team inside it soon comes under attack by such dangerous creatures as giant squid and killer jellyfish, but the problems eventually internalize themselves inside the group dynamic, a group that is shrinking in size as time goes by. The mysterious Sphere imparts an amazing power to those who enter it, a power that such individuals may not even be consciously aware of wielding. Ultimately, the last remnants of the research team begin pointing fingers at one another and take steps to insure their own individual survival in the face of an unquantifiable threat, making this novel a gripping psychological thriller based in a fascinating science fiction environment.
Once the team arrives in the underwater habitat, nonstop action ensues. One emergency after another challenges the crew, and the group dynamic of the team ebbs and flows along with each jarring crisis. Along the way, we see ever more clearly into the minds and ways of thinking of our main characters, and a significant amount of ideas are expressed concerning the human condition. Crichton provides for no obligatory rest areas along the way, as he takes the reader for an incredible ride that had me turning pages hand over fist in anticipation of what was to come. Some of the science is questionable, but Crichton surely makes it all sound more than plausible. The only real problem with the novel is a logical breakdown of sorts in the concluding chapters. Still, the desperate attempts of the remaining explorers to survive, when they cannot even trust one another, make for a riveting reading experience. Sphere is by no means a perfect novel, but I found it captivating and basically addictive up until the somewhat disappointing ending. The movie adaptation takes significant liberties with the original story, so I would urge you not to let the movie's failings prevent you from immersing yourself in this eminently readable novel.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Enjoyable Popcorn, February 19, 2004
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
You've got to give it to Michael Crichton: he writes one heck of a page-turner. Open one of his books with the idea that you'll just read a chapter or two before bedtime and you'll suddenly be bleary-eyed at three in the morning. And although this particular title, which is somewhat less well known than such Crichton novels as THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and JURASSIC PARK, it still packs a bestseller wallop.

The premise is classic Crichton. In his younger days, psychologist Norman Johnson was approached by the United States government to write a report on the psychological impact of an encounter with extra-terrestrials--and now, on the basis of his rather flippant recommendations, he finds himself en route to a possible UFO crash sight on the floor of the Pacific ocean. Once established with his colleges in an underwater habitat, the government team encounters a mysterious space craft that contains a still-more mysterious sphere, and those who come into contact with it undergo an unexpected change.

The writing is crisp and clean, the hard science is handled quite skillfully, and Crichton plays out his story at a breathless pace: yes, a page-turner if ever there was one. Still, it is worth noting that SPHERE displays Crichton's weaknesses as clearly as it does his strengths. Strictly speaking, Crichton hasn't had an original concept in some thirty years, and just as he rehashed his screenplay for WESTWORLD into the novel JURASSIC PARK, so does he rehash THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN into SPHERE. The novel also contains both the foundational sexism and ambiguous conclusion so typical of Crichton's work.

Ultimately, SPHERE is popcorn: we've all had it before and you can't make a truly satisfying meal of it. But it is tremendously enjoyable all the same, and where is SPHERE is concerned... well, you'll eat every kernel in the bowl.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Crichton, not his best, August 11, 2006
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
Intriguing as always, exciting from the first page, strong for the first 2/3rds and less "editorializing" than usual, but it's just not as good as his higher concept novels. But it's still very enjoyable all the way through, and as always makes you think. It feels a little dated now, but I re-read it last week and enjoyed it just as much as the first time. Sphere should definitely be a part of any Crichton fan's library. Skip the movie, though. Here, the science is less "convincing" than in Jurrassic Park (which is mostly convincing, but stretched) and Prey (which is better writing and fun, but not convincing). But that doesn't matter, because Crichton can write an adventure like few others (as long as character isn't important--character's here take backseat to concept and science). Pace, as always is good. More a rollicking adventure than "something to think about" (typical of later novels) and quite enjoyable on that level. It's the kind of novel you'll tear through in a weekend at most. And that's a good thing.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crichton's Best, October 30, 2000
By 
Greg Rice (West Des Moines, IA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
If you are a sci-fi fan this is a must read book. Sphere starts out with a so called alien "crash" in the Pacific Ocean. The most odd scientists are called in and are told to keep quiet about what they are about to see. They are astonished at what they find, because nobody can figure out what this huge sphere is. None of the scientists know how to explain it until one scientist goes inside. Unexplainable phenomena start happening to all of them. All of their lives are in danger but will they come out alive? This is the only sci-fi book that I have ever enjoyed maybe that is because of crichton's phenominal writing stlye. This qoute helps the reader get involved into the book and make them want to keep reading. "A thousand feet beneathe the ocean surface in the middle of the pacific, something has been discovered. Its origin, its structure, its malevolent energy are baffling. But whatever it is, it can each your mind. It knows your worst fears. And now it's starting to make those fears come true." I thought that the begining was very slow and boaring, but after they got off the helicopter the story took off and I never put it down after that. The characters were well developed, and you knew what kind of scientist they were and how they would contribute to the discovery to the sphere. Thoughtout the story I could tell what was going on. Crichton used great imagery, especially when discribing what it was like inside the sphere. It felt like you were there with the scientists. The symbolism in this story was great, the sphere symbolized technology. It shows that technology if not known how to use can be very dangerous. This is represented by what happens to them. The stories theme is very similar, saying that not all technology is good. The drawbacks of this book would have to be the lack of development of technical terms used thoughout the story. Most people know what a black whole is but for those who don't Crichton needs to tell us what it is. There are many other scientific and math terms that I didn't understand.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CRICHTON'S BEST YET, January 4, 2001
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
I read this book this summer and I think it is his best to this day. A team of scientists set out to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to examine a spaceship that crashed to the bottom three hundred years ago. There is the calm and wise Norman Johnson, the attractive and determined Beth Halperin, the brilliant and befuddling Harry Adams, and the smart yet annoying Ted Fielding, all under the command of Harold Barnes, a Captain in the U.S. Navy. They quickly gain access and discover the ship operational, and they discover a metallic sphere. But when they are cut off in a storm, they must discover the power of the sphere and confront its great powers. lest everyone get killed. I was genuinely sad when it ended. This book is Crichton's best and it is the best I have ever read, and I have read a lot of books. If you are looking for a white-knuckle ride to terror on the bottom of the ocean, this book is your ticket, and this review is your boarding call. Buy it today, because I guarantee you, you will want to re-read this one. Even if you aren't a fan of Crichton, pick this book up today and start reading. You won't be sorry.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It was really great until..., September 5, 2001
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
I was enthralled by this book from the very beginning. Imagine, scientists discover an ancient spaceship at the bottom of the ocean only to discover it's true origin is a little closer to home.
I have loved every Chrichton novel and this one was no different, at first. The story was tense, thrilling and the very last chapter killed the entire book for me. I won't give it away but the conclusion felt like a huge rip-off. I know I wasn't the only one who felt this way.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars amateur night at the sphere, June 8, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Sphere (Paperback)
Too long. Childish ending. The characters, all experts in their field, behaved like amateurs making the story unbelievably frustrating and boringly silly. What a disappointment Try The Andromeda Strain & The Terminal Man instead.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Sphere" goes in circles, December 1, 2002
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
I read this book right after reading Jurassic Park, and I could hardly believe that they were written by the same person. It's obvious that Crichton had no idea where he wanted to take the reader, because the story is meandering and pointless. Just throw enough twists and turns into a story and nobody will care that they end up where they started, I guess. The mysterious Jerry turns out to be -----. If that's true, then why did ----- use such a ridiculous code to communicate? and why did ----- allow the code to be broken? This is the kind of inconsistency that made me wonder if Crichton had the slighest what he would do with Jerry, or anyone else, when he started writing. Crichton fans will also (I hope) be disappointed by a lack of the contemporary scientific relevance that is so typical of Crichton's work. Those who make it to the end of Sphere are insulted with the ultimate cliche, a dream sequence ending. You're probably going to want to read the book anyway based on all the other reviews, but don't say you weren't warned.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm no fan of Crichton, but I couldn't drop "Sphere"., June 16, 2005
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
In "Sphere", a team of brilliant scientists are taken to a deep sea lab, miles below the waves, to investigate a mysterious object that turns out to be a spacecraft. Rather than extraterrestrial, the ship appears to be the product of an advanced human civilization of the future (and the grave of several of those futuristic humans). How the craft came to bend the rules of time is only one tidbit left to the debate of the scientists. The team hasn't enough time to decode the mystery of the spacecraft before they find an even deeper mystery in its hold - a large spherical object clearly of non-human origin. Its purpose unknown, but possibly holding the essence of the intelligence that created it, the sphere soon makes its presence felt far beyond the spaceship. Returning to their lab, but unable to return to the surface immediately, the team finds the lab surrounded by mysterious mutations of undersea life. A larger, though invisible creature makes appearances on the sonar screens. Then the team begins receiving messages from an unknown entity...called Harry. Friendly at first, Harry becomes cranky, then malicious.

This was actually a great book. Though it's not entirely original (trap a bunch of eggheads in some remote place where they've got to fill each other's heads with technobabble and psychogibberish) for a Crichton novel, there are variations on his general theme - a strong central character, and a supporting cast. Rather than try and get these guys to work with each other, we soon suspect that at least one of them is working with the sphere. The mystery of the sphere itself remains suitably mysterious and, by necessity, we are spared the indignity of having some character solve the mystery for us simply by telling us what it all means. I'm no fan of Crichton's writing, but I enjoyed "Sphere".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A psychological thriller to enthrall your mind, June 2, 2004
By 
Cuyler Stapelmann (Santa Barbara, Ca, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sphere (Mass Market Paperback)
This book doesn't fail to deliver the thrilling suspense that you would expect from a Crichton. This winding tail of suspense and mystery keeps you guessing until the finale. Norman Johnson, a psychologist, is called to inspect an "airplane" crash in the middle of the south pacific. Little does he know the airplane that he has been sent to inspect is not an airplane at all. It is a spacecraft. A spacecraft that has lain there for 300 hundred years. THe coral covered spacecraft has a secret that was never meant to be discovered, a sphere of "alien" origin. When the sphere never fails to intrigue the personnel of the "top secret" crash site, all hell breaks loose.
This thriller is a mix of three books. It has the psychology from "Lord of the Flies," a setting of "20,000 leagues under the Sea," and it has the suspense that Crichton marinates all of his books in. Crichton never ceases to amaze and astonish with his mix of science fiction and action. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Crichton, or any science fiction book. I have read "Eaters of the Dead," "THe Andromeda Strain," "Timeline," and "Sphere." "Sphere," I think, is the best. READ IT!
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Sphere
Sphere by Michael Crichton (Mass Market Paperback - March 29, 2011)
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