Michael Crichton's Prey
I took a detour from the type of books I’ve been reading lately to read Michael Crichton’s 2002 novel Prey. The last Crichton book I read was The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park (and that novel, by the way was far better than the film sequel). Anyway, a co-worker had Prey on their desk and we chatted about it and she offered to lend it to me. Since I’d just finished Men Who Love Men, I said “sure.”
I’m glad I did. It is a very enjoyable and suspenseful read. Prey deals with a swarm of out-of-control, evolving nanoparticles. At it’s core, the story follows the same blueprint as Crichton’s other cautionary tales about scientists or corporations letting things get out of control (think Andromeda Strain). In this case it’s hard to kill the problem since it’s hard to find the nanoparticles on their own. But clustered together they are a formidable opponent and seemingly unstoppable.
The thing I love about Crichton books is the way he builds tension. Here the story starts simply enough as we meet former software developer Jack Forman, who is currently a househusband while he is looking for work. His wife meanwhile, is working out in the desert on the development of nanotechnology for the military. As Jack watches his wife’s behavior change, suspecting she’s having an affair at the office, he is soon called on to come help solve the problems they are having with the project because they are using computer code he’d developed years before. From there, the intensity ratchets ever upward and Jack tries to get to the bottom of what has been going on at the manufacturing facility. It’s a great ride! I’m surprised it hasn’t been made into a movie yet…