'Next' is definitely a departure for Michael Crichton in some ways - lots of characters and lots of different stories, all surrounding the same subject: genetics, and how it can be manipulated to suit just about any end.
Crichton's usual problem is too much story and characters that are too thin. At the best of times he overcomes this and finds a good balance (as in 'Jurassic Park'), but just as often he flops and the story completely overshadows the people in it (try 'State of Fear' for the worst example of this). 'Next' has the opposite problem - too many characters, each with their own piece of the puzzle, each with their own story to tell, but none are given adequate space to tell it. I had hope that it would all tie together in the end, and Crichton certainly made a valiant attempt to do so, but ultimately there were too many loose ends and the conclusion is rushed and not very satisfying.
Michael Crichton's strong points have always been well-researched topics written into tightly-paced, gripping stories. 'Next' is definitely well-researched and raises a lot of interesting points, but the story tries too hard to do too much, and in the end it falls short. It's not Crichton's worst novel, but it's definitely not the top of his game either.
Non-fiction reviewing is my area of expertise, and since others have detailed the plot ad nauseum, I'll just share my personal experience as a person who loves to escape and relax with medical thrillers and mysteries. I began this book last week, and although it's a large book, I finished it on Saturday. In other words, this books is an amazingly gripping tale! Not only did I have trouble putting it down (I took it with me in the bathtub and even snatched moments to read when … more
In "State Of Fear", Crichton took on the panic mongers who have a vested interested in promoting the idea (and fear) of global warming. The environmentalists, Gaists, hands-out "scientists" and others who make fine livings promoting bad science and rampant fear didn't like it. Of course, they don't like anyone who doesn't unquestioningly accept their shaky science or dares to bring up their abortive "global cooling" scheme of decades ago. (For an excellent non-fiction evisceration of environmentalists, … more