Michael Crichton’s fiction has terrified readers for years: THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, EATERS OF THE DEAD, CONGO, SPHERE, RISING SUN, JURASSIC PARK, and more. Attention to hair-raising details and plausible scientific facts were the hallmarks of his writing and the elements of his craft that made his stories so frightening. His many bestsellers had kept us up at night thinking about the unimaginable. When Crichton died in 2008, the world of fiction readers collectively lamented the loss of one of the greatest thriller writers of our time.
"Preston has done an admirable job of weaving a seamless story from Crichton’s detailed notes. To both their credit, the secret of MICRO is revealed early on in the novel, and yet the writing keeps you engaged."
During the height of Crichton’s popularity, another formidable fear was jumping off the bookshelves at an impressive rate: Richard Preston’s THE HOT ZONE, the nonfiction tale of the very real ebola virus. The true-life thriller introduced its audience to the horrors of a ravaging and threatening disease that resulted in its victims “bleeding out.” Like Crichton, Preston excelled at exacting detail that at once fascinated and repulsed the reader. A huge bestseller, THE HOT ZONE kept people up at night dreading a biological enemy and a pandemic threat that was all too possible.
So when a partially completed manuscript was found after Crichton’s death and it was announced that Preston had been chosen to complete it, the word “perfect” came immediately to mind. Who better to finish the work of a master thriller writer than another master thriller writer? And so MICRO was born.
MICRO is the story of seven graduate students, stars in their burgeoning fields, who are recruited by a start-up company, Nanigen MicroTechnologies. The novel opens when Peter Jansen and his labmates are visited by his brother Eric and two officers of the microbiology firm. The students are quickly whisked off to Hawaii to visit the labs, and from that moment on, the pace of the book never stops. Vin Drake, the CEO of the company, manages to miniaturize the students when he fears they are on to a deadly secret held by very few people. They escape into the rainforest, where the true perilous action unfolds and the writing exceeded my expectations. The descriptions of miniature scientists scrambling up trees, stumbling over nematodes, fighting off an army of ants, encountering hungry grubs, hungry birds, hungry bats, hungry hungry hungry animals are nothing short of spectacular. In fact, the human characters take a backseat to the scientific concepts and the flora and fauna of the lush forests of Oahu.
Preston has done an admirable job of weaving a seamless story from Crichton’s detailed notes. To both their credit, the secret of MICRO is revealed early on in the novel, and yet the writing keeps you engaged. Where Crichton ends and Preston begins in unclear. It all works as one compelling voice. What is clear is that Preston can hold his own as a fiction writer, and if there are any other unfinished Crichton pieces lying about, Preston is up to the task of completing them.
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on December 15, 2011