Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reader's review - Michael Crichton (The Andromeda Strain)

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What if an unknown bacterium from outer space one day were brought down to earth by a meteorite or ... a crashed military satellite?

This is the hypothetical situation, 'The Andromeda Strain' are built around. It is an old book from 1969, which the course is characterized by the language which is a little old-fashioned, and the advanced techniques described in the book, is long overdue.

The plot is nevertheless interesting, because the subject still has some scientific interest today. Ask yourself: What if a similar event one day actually took place?

'The Andromeda Strain' describes a sudden and deadly outbreak of an unknown
disease in a small town in Arizona. The only survivor is an old man with stomach ulcers and an infant. We are following a small group of scientists who are fighting to identify this microscopic killing machine, and at the same time they are fighting for the two surviving inhabitants and - as time goes on - their own survival.

Michael Crichton's writing style is a bit too technical and you'll sense that he sometimes disappears completely into his own world in excitement of science, technology and skills.
Unfortunately, this means that although this could have been a really exciting story, it almost ends up being an academic treatise.

One big mistake from the author I have to mention is, that he repeatedly describes errors committed by scientists and at the same time explains that the error will be  discovered several days later. In this way, all the excitements are pulled out of the story, because the reader knows in advance that the fault will be detected and corrected later on.

So in short terms: The plot is fine. The story is great. But it all slips out of the hands of the author. Instead of a unique thriller, this book ends up being a mediocre and somewhat boring story.