"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
Eighteen years reviewing books, audiobooks, graphic novels, movies and music! More than 1500 reviews.

Visit DWD's Reviews of Books, Audiobooks, Music and Video new sister blog: DWD's Reviews of Tech, Gadgets and Gizmos!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Micro: A Novel (audiobook) by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Although it is a collaboration, it reads remarkably like a typical Crichton novel

Published 2011 by Harper Audio
Read by John Bedford Lloyd
Duration: 14 hours

Michael Crichton died in 2008 and left Micro as an unfinished manuscript. I have no idea how much of this book is actually Crichton's and how much belongs to Richard Preston. To me it felt like a typical Crichton novel.

Micheal Crichton (1942-2008)
A typical Crichton novel for me is a mixed bag. It has grand themes - truly big, big ideas with foundations in real science. Grand themes about the dangers of too much innovation without enough ethical considerations, lots of Gee Whiz stuff (think of the movie Jurassic Park where the paleontologists are mesmerized when they first see the dinosaurs) and laughable plot lines with sketch characters (the worst for me was State of Fear in which the big menacing bad guys were wedging themselves into Toyota Priuses as they stalked their opponents - yes, the Prius, the ultimate pursuit car!).

This book has all of that in spades.

The plot revolves around NanoGen, a Hawaiian start up company that has figured out (or stolen) how to shrink full-sized objects down to a very, very small size. People are about one half of an inch tall when they are shrunk. NanoGen claims to be using the technology to thoroughly search the Hawaiian rain forest for biological discoveries that  could be used to help create medicines. Their plan is to search the micro-world bit by bit (literally square foot by square foot) in tiny detail so that even creatures that cannot be seen with the naked eye can be harvested and investigated for possible uses in a bio-technology laboratory.

But, the bad guy in charge of the project also wants to use these tiny robots as weapons and has made plans to corrupt the original vision of NanoGen's founders. So, murder and mayhem result and soon enough we are following a group of college graduate students who have been shrunken and dumped into the rain forest in an attempt to get rid of even more witnesses (why weren't they immediately squished and flushed down the toilet? The bad guy is so over-the-top in his sadism that he wants to prolong their punishment, which of course eventually backfires.).

So, when our seven college graduate students are dumped in the rain forest (in the micro world as Crichton/Preston usually refer to it) we have several scenes that are reminiscent of Jurassic Park, except we don't have T. Rex and Velociraptors. Rather, we have centipedes, spiders, wasps and ants - all armored and all very dangerous to very tiny people. This part of the book is by far the best - the descriptions of the bugs, their habits, their defenses and their weapons are all fascinating. If it weren't for these details I would have to rate this novel poorly, but the descriptions are entertaining in and of themselves.

John Bedford Lloyd's narration of the book was solid but really did little to enhance or detract from the book.  His voices were solid. To be fair, most of the plot was inane, so it was not like he was working with a literary classic. His deep voice did add a lot to the menacing descriptions of the bugs.

I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Micro: A Novel.

Reviewed on December 27, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. Elaine had this as one of her featured books on The Book Report! I love her show!