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Prey by Michael Crichton
Review by Steve Sawicki
Harper Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061703089
Date: 01 November 2008 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Michael Crichton has done it again. This time he's poking around with nano-technology and artificial intelligence. As usual the story is gripping and downright scary.

Jack is an unemployed software engineer, fired because he blew the whistle on some corporate funny business. Now he's a stay at home dad and taking flak from his wife for not finding a job quick enough. She's doing PR for a firm selling nanocameras to the government. Or at least that's what Jack thinks she's doing since she's been acting kind of strange and looking different as well. Jack ends up getting hired by the company that employs his wife so he can go and figure out a software problem they're having. The problem isn't software but rather the self-aware nanocloud they've created. The cloud that is acting like a predator and might have actually taken over an employee or two.

Crichton really knows how to grab onto an idea and play it out to its evil conclusion. He does it again with nanotechnology, folding in some artificial intelligence just to make things even more complicated. And, as usual, he puts his characters smack dab in the middle of the whole mess. That he writes characters that are more or less normal just makes the whole affair that much more trouble. Crichton is also not squeamish when it comes to killing off a character or two or three as needed by the plot. And that's the case here as well so don't go getting too attached to anyone.

As with all Crichton books, the pacing builds slowly at the beginning until it reaches a near frantic pace. And the ending is typical Crichton as well, conclusive but also somewhat ambiguous, as if he's saying "okay, we solved this one but who knows what else is out there?"

I'm coming to like Crichton's work more and more as I read him. He's got a thoroughly captivating style that draws you into the plot. And he's writing for everyone not just a genre segment. His characters are great, his settings extremely realistic and the science behind his plot not that out of line with current practice, which just makes everything all that more scary.

I haven't found a bad Crichton book yet and this one is even better than the rest. What a great idea for a story. Highly recommended and what an entertaining read.

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