Book review: Next by Michael Crichton

June 10, 2008

Title: Next
Author: Michael Crichton
Pages: 423

The author

Michael Crichton (born in October 1942) is a doctor with an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He has written over 20 books, including the famous Jurassic Park.

Besides writing dozens of books he also wrote and directed several motion pictures and television programs.

His books usually feature technology quite prominently i.e. most of his novels are “techno-thrillers”.

Crichton is 6 feet 9 inches tall and was named one of the “Fifty Most Beautiful People” by People magazine in 1992.

The plot

Next is a cautionary novel about the dangers of genetic research. The novel explores the world of genetic research in which it is possible to create transgenic (i.e. genetically modified) animals. I was surprised to learn that the GloFish mentioned in the novel actually exists!.

A company called BioGen purchases the cells of cancer survivor Frank Burnet from a university hospital. The doctors at the university harvested Frank’s cells ostensibly for non-profit research purposes. The university however sells the valuable cells to BioGen for billions of dollars. An outraged Frank takes the university to court but loses the case.

Meanwhile BioGen finds that their cells have been purposely contaminated by an employee, making them useless for further research. BioGen decides that they paid not only for the cells that Frank donated but the cells in his body as well. They need the cells desperately as the company is in financial trouble.

As Frank has gone into hiding BioGen sends a bounty hunter after Frank’s daughter and grandson, claiming that they have a right to the cells in their bodies as well.

The book covers other sub-plots as well. Most come together at the end. The talking orangutan (who swears at tourists in French and Dutch) seems disconnected from the rest of the story.

The verdict

Next was a pretty exciting novel but Crichton introduces too many characters and does not explore their lives in detail. The chapters are quite short and the story switches from one person to the next at “cliffhanger” moments. This is a common way to generate suspense but the large number of characters makes it slightly confusing.

I’m not a huge fan of the thriller genre but this was pretty good.

One Response to “Book review: Next by Michael Crichton”

  1. […] Next by Michael Crichton […]

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