Friday, January 05, 2007

Book Review

I have just finished reading Next by Michael Crichton. I have been a fan of his books for years and I particularly like Jurassic Park and Prey. Next, like all novels by this author, is immanently readable and moves at a fast pace, instructing the reader about the complex nature of gene therapy and transgenic animals in a relatively simple manner. Not to give too much away, there were certain animal related aspects of this book that I really liked, and it was a very fast, enjoyable read. However, like State of Fear before it, I feel it suffers from what I call the 'Lost' syndrome. Like recent television programmes are copying the popularity of reality television (the 4400 and Lost spring to mind) and abolishing the conventional hero who leads the reader through the world of the story, so has Michael Crichton in Next. There are no central characters that we can root for or identify with. There are multiple short chapters about different characters that are all separate but mildly linked. Joe Bloggs, who we meet in chapter one, may not appear again for another 200 pages, and so on. At times I found this choice of narrative quite boring. Without any apparent cohesive strand to the narrative, the middle of the book lagged for me. My interest in these (seemingly) random characters wained. The chapters are so short that it often took me several paragraphs to remember who the reintroduced character was, only to move on to another character within as many more paragraphs. I don't like this particular way of writing. I like to have a hero and a strong narrative. In this age of reality tv, everyone has a chance to get their story told, but in reality there are some people whose stories are just not interesting enough to anyone other than themselves and their friends and families. I dislike this trend creeping into literature. I admire Michael for trying it out, but as so many of his books are made into movies, I couldn't help but wonder if this was the blueprint for the script and shudder at the thought of such a fractured film.

All in all, I found Next very absorbing and thought provoking. I hope Michael returns to the more conventional main character approach of the novel, but other than that, I would recommend this book to fans of his work. 5/10

Book pledge: 2/150


Anonymous said...

That sounds very disappointing. What a pity! There was a central character in State of Fear (though he wasn't very likeable & I can't remember his name) though that book was about MC's own anti-global warming theory theories! But sounds like Next doesn't even have such interesting ideas behind it!

Pinky said...

I am looking forward to reading it. please put me on the list Inky