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Old January 15 2012, 05:51 AM   #1
Emh
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Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I'm a long-time fan of Michael Crichton so naturally I was devastated by his death and yet thrilled to learn that two manuscripts, one complete and one incomplete, were discovered on his computer. The first was Pirate Latitudes, a fun but not a particularly deep pirate adventure that was more of a historical adventure akin to Crichton's earlier works such as The Great Train Robbery and Eaters of the Dead than his techno-thrillers of recent times. The second was Micro which was only a third complete. Crichton's widow and his editor selected Richard Preston, an author who was known to write novels about infectious disease epidemics and bioterrorism, to complete the book.

I went into the book apprehensive because I was unfamiliar with Preston's work and I wasn't sure if I would be able to tell Crichton's work and from Preston's. Unfortunately, it became far too easy to tell. The book plays out like Jurassic Park meets Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and even though this premise was more ludicrous than Crichton's normal fare, and I could tell where the book was playing with his ideas.

Preston's side of the book stuck out painfully: Rarely have I read such horrible prose and poorly written dialogue in a published work. The prose constantly broke the simple writing rule of "show, don't tell" that it became hard for me not to throw the book across the room. The dialogue felt unnatural and clumsy, while the narration often repeated itself within several pages or even with single paragraphs.

With all this in mind, it's no surprise that the characters themselves had nothing going for them. Almost all of them were cyphers and merely played out roles for the needs of the story instead acting out their own motivations. Everything each character did was predictable and boring and the only shocking moment of the whole story was when the lead character was abruptly killed.

If this book was so bad, why did I keep reading? I've read every single Crichton fiction novel (with the exception of State of Fear) so I suppose kept with it out of some sense of loyalty. I wanted so badly to enjoy this book. Granted Crichton's work declined somewhat in recent years (his last great novel, in my opinion, was Timeline) but I always at least enjoyed reading his books. Micro had some interesting ideas but Preston did an absolutely appalling job in presenting them and and even worse job maintaining the spirit of Crichton's work.
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Old January 15 2012, 09:23 AM   #2
Enterprise is Great
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I'm also a long-time fan of Michael Crichton and I'm worried about reading this especially now after your review. I'll probably get it when it's in paperback since I do sort of feel an obligation to read one of his novels since I am a fan of his and it is his last work (at least partially).
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Old January 15 2012, 02:37 PM   #3
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I enjoyed MICRO, I thought it was on the upper scale of Chricton's books. It felt very old school adventure like Jurassic Park with a fascinating scientific premise. I really enjoyed it, though the villain was waaaaaay too cardboard over the top evil. It would make for a really cool movie. Definitely his best book since TIMELINE (RIP). Like the best of Chricton's books it starts with an intriguing mystery that forces you to keep reading to find out what's going on, and they manage to keep this going by alluding to some secret that you don't learn until the end of the book. And the violent world of miniature creatures, combined with the humans gaining super strength and ability to survive any fall, was really fun.
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Old January 15 2012, 07:53 PM   #4
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I'll approach this from the opposite side. I've always felt Crichton was an overrated writer. I've read some of his books but have never been a huge fan. I read Micro because I wanted to see his take on the old "shrunken people" bit. Having read it, I have to say I wasn't impressed. I didn't outright hate it, but my favorite Crichton novel is Disclosure and this didn't come close to challenging that.
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Old January 15 2012, 08:27 PM   #5
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

Actually that description sounds a lot like Timeline to me. I found the characters and story to be awfully thin and generic in that one as well.

I was a HUGE fan of Congo, Sphere, and Jurassic Park as a kid, but to be honest none of his later books really did much for me. It either felt like he was getting way too preachy and heavy-handed (ahem, State of Fear), or he was just dumbing things down too much for the eventual Spielberg movie.
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Old January 15 2012, 09:45 PM   #6
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I've enjoyed the few Crichton novels that I have read over the years (Andromeda Strain, The Lost World, Airframe, Timeline, Prey) but have skipped his last few efforts due to the overall poor reviews. I received a copy of Micro for Christmas and have been curious to read it. I actually really like Richard Preston's work (The Hot Zone and The Cobra Event) so I was feeling optimistic that this collaboration would turn out well.

It's too bad that some people aren't enjoying it. Guess I'll have to read it for myself to see.
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Old January 15 2012, 09:49 PM   #7
JarodRussell
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I've never been a fan of taking a dead guy's unfinished work and adding stuff to it. Remake it, leave it, or release the fragment, but don't mess with the original work.
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Old January 15 2012, 09:55 PM   #8
Tom Servo
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I thought it was pretty good. Crichton is my favorite author, so it was was kind of sad when I was done, knowing that this is the last book of his that will ever come out. I will agree with others that it wasn't his best book, I would say it's on par with with State of Fear, but it was better then Next. I have to say my favorite books of his are The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Timeline, Airframe, and my absolute favorite, Sphere.

I do agree that Micro would make for a pretty cool movie, if done in the correct way. And dammit I still want a movie of Airframe as well, as I think that could be absolutely fantastic.
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Old January 15 2012, 10:23 PM   #9
Gothowitz
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

State of Fear was a fun read.
Looking at the Author's message, 2 Appendices and the Bibliography he used writing it you can tell the topic was a deep passion of his.
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Old January 15 2012, 10:44 PM   #10
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

Emh wrote: View Post
The prose constantly broke the simple writing rule of "show, don't tell" that it became hard for me not to throw the book across the room.
To be fair, if it weren't for repeated and continuing violations of this rule Star Trek would not exist at all.
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Old January 16 2012, 10:03 AM   #11
Owain Taggart
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I thought Pirate Latitudes showed promise at the beginning, but ultimately it fell apart and wasn't very satisfying in terms of a pirate adventure. I guess that's because he hadn't had time to fully flesh it out? Could have been really awesome if it had been on the same level as Jurassic Park.
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Old January 16 2012, 10:52 AM   #12
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I was disappointed by Pirate Latitudes. It just seemed so generic. The plot was boring and it just wasn't piratey enough.
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Old January 16 2012, 01:15 PM   #13
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I liked Pirate Latitudes. I thought it was a solid adventure and interesting as a real world "that way it really would have happened" take on Pirates of the Caribbean.
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Old January 16 2012, 06:45 PM   #14
Owain Taggart
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

Enterprise is Great wrote: View Post
I was disappointed by Pirate Latitudes. It just seemed so generic. The plot was boring and it just wasn't piratey enough.

Yeah, that's why I thought maybe he didn't have enough time to flesh it out. Much of the piratey elements were absent. It did have its moments though, like the siege on the island. The problem was that it felt like a mainstream take on pirates, and it didn't offer anything new. Didn't feel like the world was fully taken advantage of in terms of potential, and I think that's because there wasn't much description to make the world stand out
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Old January 16 2012, 07:19 PM   #15
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Re: Micro review (Michael Crichton's final novel)

I think the last of Crichton's books I truly enjoyed was 'Timeline.' After that, I dunno... I just couldn't get into them as much. I still read 'Jurassic Park' once every 18 months or so, though.
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