Book Review: Next by Michael Crichton

Next_book_coverMichael Crichton was a man of many talents. He’s part Harvard Medical School graduate, M.D., as well as a best-selling author of literary fiction, and writer/producer/director of television and film.

You could shine a flashlight on pop culture, and chances are you’ll have seen something that was written, produced or directed by Michael Crichton. Some of his more popular works include Jurassic Park, Westworld and ER.

He was a very intelligent man and a workaholic who passed away too soon at the age of 66.

Crichton’s work, while entirely complex in its delivery and understanding, makes for a profound experience that tricks you into believing the future is just around the corner, and Next is no exception.

Next takes place in the present world, where both the government and private investors spend billions of dollars every year on genetic research. The novel follows many characters, including transgenic animals, in the quest to survive in a world dominated by genetic research, corporate greed, and legal interventions.

Next is a page-turner with a steep learning curve. You have to sit down and really digest everything that is coming at you. It is not a simple read; Crichton tosses out complex genetic and medical jargon like candy.

The Washington Post describes this novel as “part lecture, part satire and part freak show.”

As much as I admire the surrealism of this book, I do feel there were far too many characters, presenting perspectives on the larger story that felt either out of place or completely unnecessary. I can see why Crichton decided to do this, but I still feel the novel would have been just as effective if he had kept out one-off characters.

I really enjoyed the chapter transitions that featured newspaper article clipping that depicted satirical, yet somewhat believable events in time. For example, did you know that blondes will go extinct sometime over the course of the next 200 years?

If you’re in the mood for a complex techno-thriller flooded with character drama and bizarre sub-plots, this could be your golden Wonka ticket. However, I would not recommend this novel to just anyone; personally, my experience reading this novel was satisfactory. I was engaged, but it was far too complex a story to really be able to understand.

If you do come across this in a book store somewhere, whether tomorrow or five years from now, just remember that the concepts presented in the tale walk the fine line between real possibility and satirical fiction.

FINAL SCORE: 2.5 out of 5

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