The AHS faculty talk about books.

"Prey" by Michael Crichton

Reviewed by: Eric Tomas

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles -- micro-robots -- has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.

Every attempt to destroy it has failed.

And we are the prey.”

And thus begins the late Michael Crichton’s 2002 novel Prey. Once more, Crichton weaves a cautionary tale of what might go wrong with a new form of technology. In Jurassic Park, it was genetic engineering. In Prey, it’s nanotechnology.

The premise of the novel is interesting, as it focuses on the possible dangers of biotechnology and nanotechnology going awry. Like Jurassic Park, Crichton shares enough technical information to make his yarn seem plausible. The fact that the nanoparticles can gain sentience, and become dangerous to mankind is fascinating, to say the least.

However, this time around, the story isn’t as smooth as its predecessor was. While the concept seems plausible, Crichton seems to spend way too much time trying to explain the various concepts he’s introduced in the book, as opposed to telling a cohesive story.

As a result, his characters appear two-dimensional and lacking in depth; it’s difficult to empathize with any of them. It’s as if Crichton, in the writing of the book, gave them a cursory fitting, enough for them to function in the story, and then went back to describing the tech in detail.

The story itself appears to be derived from a number of stories wherein the plot revolves around human possession by an unknown entity. Ray Bradbury’s short story, “Fever Dream”, for one, where a young boy finds himself under siege by his fever, shows how such a story should be done.

While I’m a fan of Crichton’s other novels, unfortunately, Prey falls a bit short of matching the quality of his earlier work.


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