Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Spark of American Culture: Review of Next, by Michael Crichton

As you all might have known, a good chunk of time ago (see the first post about it published Sunday, July 19, 2009) I obtained an audio-book of the Michael Crichton’s futuristic Sci–Fi Next. I finished it somewhere around mid-December. Here’s the review which I so duly owe:

Starting off from the beginning—the very first words the narrator (remember, it’s an audio-book; I can’t tell where things are positioned—only what comes before the next [as a side note, some of the chapters were damaged, too, so I couldn’t listen to them]) heard as follows:

“This novel is fiction, except for the parts that aren’t.”

The dryness, the simplicity, and the truth of this line—the realness, in other words—is the best way to summarize the entire mood of this novel.

Plot wise….

In this novel, gene-research company BioGen is involved in a variety of law suits—and its employees are extremely shady people. Like I said before, there are a number of minor plot threads in this novel—and most of them are here, within the company and the employees. (But these are so minor I’m not going to dive into them.)

The three biggest plot lines, however, aren’t within the company of BioGen.

First off, Henry Kendall realizes that his other company’s research with genes has produced a transgenic chimpanzee—with his own genes. Such transgenic experiments are outlawed, and, the talking chimp, named Dave, must be killed. However, Henry steals Dave away, and his wife, Lynn reluctantly allows him to stay. Their son, Jamie, becomes attached to Dave, even though Dave’s primal, animalistic instincts make the chimp hard to keep secret.

The second thread is the tale of fleeing Alex Brunet. Her husband’s (Frank’s) cells have been bought by BioGen—and they need more. Frank is gone. The company hires bounty hunters to find Alex’s son, Jamie (yes, there are two Jamie’s), but Alex is aware of their plan and runs away with her own son Jamie. Alex flees along to her long-time friend named….Lynn Kendall.

Yes. The two Jamie’s are now united—and most of the plot threads tie together.

Dave, Jamie, and Jamie all make friends quickly. So when the bounty hunters come, Dave (the violent chimp) tries to defend the kids from the bounty hunters (he bites off an ear!). However, the bounty hunters grab the wrong Jamie—they grab the Kendall Jamie instead of the Brunet Jamie.

Meanwhile, Alex and the Kendalls manage to track down the bounty hunters within a couple minutes. They find that the bounty hunters have taken refuge into a health clinic at a resort, where they plan to extract the cells from the boy. With the help of a genetically engineered parrot named Gerard and Alex’s gunmanship, they are able to recover the kidnapped boy.

Now, here’s what I think about the book:

The Good: The plot is excellent. The characters are well developed. Everything about this (expect what is below) is very, very nicely done.

The Bad: Goodness, all the swear words! Really! Throughout the novel, there are tons and tons of cuss words, both in narration, and many spoken. While they give credibility, I really think they weren’t needed.

The Ugly: The plot threads, in my opinion, are the worst part of this entire novel. They’re usually scattered (Plot Thread A, Plot B, Plot C, Plot D, Plot A, Plot D, Plot C, Plot A, Plot B) so you forget what’s happening and you lose track of the characters. Goodness, it gets a little annoying.

So all in all, this novel’s not that bad…One of the better ones I have read in a while by a contemporary writer…

Though not extraordinary, Next is at least, a tiny spark of what we used to call American culture.


  1. Watch the movie its alot better

  2. Read State of Fear. It's good too. Next is what got me into Crichton.


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