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A book by Michael Crichton

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No one ever does anything until it's too late.

  • Apr 15, 2008
Pros: Exciting, freakish, well-researched and well-constructed novel

Cons: Some things I think Jack should have figured out (because I did before him)

The Bottom Line: The scary part is that this is something that could happen sometime in the future...

Jack Forman is unemployed. Bummer. He used to be in charge of creating computer programs that are based on animal behaviors, this way the programs can run on their own and still function without human interference. It also means they have the ability to adapt to new challenges. But that’s all in the past now, and Jack is a stay at home dad while his wife Julia works at Xymos. Xymos is developing nanotechnology, and it looks as though they may have done it – until something goes wrong. It’s all very hush, hush, but Jack gets called in since it’s his program that’s helped the nanos become what they are now – independent. All too soon he realizes that the nanos aren’t just buzzing about aimlessly. They have a new goal – and it just happens to include killing every living thing around the Xymos plant, humans included.

Michael Crichton could have easily named this book Swarm considering how much they used the word and the fact that the nanos were a swarm (hence the word usage). But whatever the title, this was a fantastic book. I figured it would take me five days max to read it, assuming I read a few chapters each day. Yeah—no. I read this book in two days. Basically I couldn’t put it down. When I did, in the back of my mind I wondered when I’d get the chance to get back to reading it. The suspense and excitement were great. You never knew who would get killed next and you always wondered just what was wrong with certain people. Oh sure, you could make guesses, but you could never quite put your finger on it. When you do find out, it comes down hard and makes you think, “Ohhh…that sucks.”

There were a few times that I couldn't believe Jack failed to understand what the significance was of an incident until much later. I sat there on the couch thinking, "Oh, come ON dude - even I know what just happened!" Likewise, some may doubt the amount of evolution the nanos achieve when it comes to dealing with humans. Sure, it did feel a bit far-fetched, but who knows just what might happen in a situation like this? Suspension of disbelief folks, that's what it's for. The method used to destroy the nanos at the end due to their composition was a very cool concept and makes for some exciting action and grotesque pictures in the mind. Heheh.

One thing that I loved about this book was Crichton’s attention to detail and the amount of research he did for this book. As usual, he’s taken real elements of science and applied them to a science fiction novel in such a way that the real life possibilities are very creepy. I mean, we’ve all seen robots and artificial intelligence freak out on us before - Terminator, I, Robot, The Matrix - all ending with ugly consequences, and while I’m no stranger to nanos going haywire, this is the first time I’ve seen them get this nasty and creative, as well as the first time I’ve seen a writer utilize this much actual science to make the book more plausible than is comfortable.

The book takes place in only a few days, the main chunk of action occurring in one day. You get a small essay at the very beginning from Crichton himself, explaining the possibilities of nanotechnology, as well as the frightening consequences. Throughout the book he adds in the necessary science and information so readers can better understand how the nanos are functioning, but don’t’ worry. While technically these pieces are info dumps, they’re done in such a way that they seem to go by quickly, surrounded by text that makes them more like flash thoughts in Jack’s mind as he ponders the nanos’ evolution and actions. Add to that the fascinating nature of the information and they aren’t info dumps to wade through at all.

A great book with excitement that just never seems to end. Here’s hoping it never becomes reality.



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More Prey reviews
review by . November 12, 2010
I have had little success with popular thriller writers.   Clive Cussler's writing is comically inept (but not enough to make me read a second title), and Dan Brown's DaVinci Code is passable but tepid and hardly worth a followup.  This Michael Crichton came highly praised for its technical topic, as his books always are, and since I hadn't read any of them, I thought to try it.      Well, it is better than Cussler, faint enough praise, and about on …
review by . August 19, 2010
   Prey is science fiction in a much more pure form than what most science fiction writers put out. Michael Crichton was always brilliant about that. He did the same thing for Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, and for many other subjects in his books. Crichton takes a real idea with real science behind it and takes it to the logical (extreme) conclusions. What would be the logical conclusion (taken to the extreme) if we figured out how to get Dinosaur DNA and started cloning them? What would …
review by . May 31, 2005
As per usual, Michael Crichton takes a top that he is currently interested in (nanotechnology in this case) and weaves an entertaining story around this central theme. Better than Crichton's last book (Timeline), I quickly got through this story and wasn't disappointed in the slightest bit.    For all Michael Crichton fans I would recommend "Prey" and I think you would find it a good, albeit light read. If for nothing else, Crichton's meticulous research into the field of nanotechnology …
review by . September 20, 2004
A repeated theme in Michael Crichton's "Prey" goes something like this: "Things never turn out the way you think they will." I find myself wishing that this were true of the novel itself. "Prey" is a novel that only Michael Crichton could have written, and that comes with both the good and the bad.    Crichton's plot, timing, and his ability to keep a story clipping along at a brisk pace are all in evidence here. Michael Crichton books are sometimes better than others, but he …
review by . June 10, 2004
Crichton does an excellent job of writing a heart-pounding high tech thriller! This is a story of nano-technology gone out of control. Those familiar with Ben Bova's tales (Venus, The Asteroid War series, etc.) would know the concept of nano or microscopic computer technology going in. In both cases the potential is there for both good results and total disaster. It is scary because science is probably trying very hard to perfect this technology and the way things seem to be designed today; the …
review by . March 05, 2004
Remember the plot of Jurassic Park? The well meaning scientists, the crazed mercenaries, the bewildered civilians and the villians---tons of ready-made living dinosaur meat cultivated from Jurassic era DNA? All this made for a good story and a fully blown cinematic spectacle when the creatures were brought to life on the big screen.     That's pretty much the tale of Prey---instead of dinosaurs, the menace consists of a "swarm" of nano-sized computers created by a Silcon Valley …
review by . February 09, 2004
Michael Crichton has produced another high-tech page-turner that will hold your interest to the very end. You might call it Andromeda Strain meets Jurassic Park since the human-engineered malevolence is at the microscopic level in the form of nanoparticle-sized machines that have escaped from their laboratory and begun reproducing at an alarming rate.The narrator of this adventure, Jack Forman is an expert in distributed programming. Only now his career has been interrupted by some Silicon Valley …
review by . January 05, 2004
A hallmark of Michael Crichton's work over the years has been the issue of technology with unintended consequences thanks to human error. We are not as smart as we think we are, in short. From his first book, "Andromeda Strain" (which later became a movie of the same name) his literary vision has been of forefront technology coupled with human error bringing about unintended and often disastrous results. In "Andromeda Strain," the spacecraft brings to earth space microbes that grow and kill. A concern …
review by . January 29, 2003
this was highly intersting and suspenceful. Jack is a lovable character, and one roots for him, through this weird ordeal he got himself into. The enemy is hard to evade, since it can be invisible, unless it forms into a big black swarm. It's kinda like the 1986 Chernobly accident, the invisible radioactive rays that killed so many people. The silent and invisible enemy! You think it's not there, untill you see what happens to ya! awesome book, one of Crichtons bests!
review by . January 06, 2003
Crichton introduces his cautionary tale of technology run amok with a fairly dire summation of human shortsightedness. "The total system we call the biosphere is so complicated that we cannot know in advance the consequences of anything that we do." Add greed and arrogance to ignorance and technology and you have the basic ingredients for one of Crichton's page-turning plots. "Unfortunately, our species has demonstrated a striking lack of caution in the past. It is hard to imagine that we will behave …
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Nicole ()
Ranked #165
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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InPrey, bestselling author Michael Crichton introduces bad guys that are too small to be seen with the naked eye but no less deadly or intriguing than the runaway dinosaurs that made 1990'sJurassic Parksuch a blockbuster success.

High-tech whistle-blower Jack Forman used to specialize in programming computers to solve problems by mimicking the behavior of efficient wild animals--swarming bees or hunting hyena packs, for example. Now he's unemployed and is finally starting to enjoy his new role as stay-at-home dad. All would be domestic bliss if it were not for Jack's suspicions that his wife, who's been behaving strangely and working long hours at the top-secret research labs of Xymos Technology, is having an affair. When he's called in to help with her hush-hush project, it seems like the perfect opportunity to see what his wife's been doing, but Jack quickly finds there's a lot more going on in the lab than an illicit affair. Within hours of his arrival at the remote testing center, Jack discovers his wife's firm has created self-replicating nanotechnology--a literal swarm of microscopic machines. Originally meant to serve as a military eye in the sky, the swarm has now escaped into the environment and is seemingly intent on killing the scientists trapped in the facility. The reader realizes early, however, that Jack, his wife, and fellow scientists have more to fear from the hidden dangers within the lab than from the predators without.


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ISBN-10: 978-0066214122
ISBN-13: 0066214122
Author: Michael Crichton
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Harperaudio
Date Published: November 01, 2002
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