Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Best-selling author Michael Crichton passed away a few years ago, although his newest novel was released at the end of 2011. It was finished posthumously by Richard Preston, best known for his nonfiction books, such as The Hot Zone. Fun fact: Richard Preston is the brother of thriller writer Douglas Preston, whose novels (co-written with Lincoln Child) are often compared to those of Michael Crichton.

For those familiar with Crichton’s novels, do yourself a favor and pick this up. You’ll be glad you did, because it reads like vintage Crichton: it’s fast, fun, and makes the future happen now. I’ll admit that I was a bit disillusioned by State of Fear, in which Crichton seemed to come down against the idea of global climate change, which is quite different than the views expressed of nature’s vanishing beauty in his memoir, Travels. But in Micro, as Richard Preston puts it, “he was writing at the top of his game.” Crichton is known for taking a small scientific or technological fact or discovery and building a whole pulse-pounding, page-turning story around it.

Graduate students in Cambridge, Massachusetts, each studying a different field of science, are being recruited by Vincent Drake, the charismatic founder of NaniGen MicroTechnologies. The students will be flown to Hawaii just for the chance to tour the facility and see some of the technology that will, as Drake says, “define the limits of discovery for the first half of the twenty-first century.” Peter Jansen, one of the students, happens to be the brother of Eric, one of NaniGen’s executives. Just before the students are to depart for Hawaii Peter receives a text from Eric that reads “Don’t come.” Peter and his friends make the journey anyway, and are stunned to learn that Eric is missing and presumed dead after an accident on his boat.  Peter believes that Drake is involved with his brother’s disappearance and when he tries to publicly confront him with some evidence, all seven students are also made to “disappear.” Sort of.

The heart of NaniGen’s breakthroughs is the ability to shrink objects and people to less than an inch in size. The students are then dumped in the rainforest jungle where they must fight to survive against all beetles, wasps and other insects, plus birds and the natural elements as their size works against them at every turn.

Sure, it may sound like Honey I Shrunk the Kids meets Jurassic Park, but for a Science Fiction lover the story and action kept me turning pages and wishing my lunch break were longer. I also couldn’t tell how much, or which parts, of the book were Crichton’s and which were Preston’s.

For a thrilling ride through the micro-verse, find and request this book in our catalog.

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