I was home sick this weekend and looking for an exciting book to read, and I fell upon my shelf of Michael Chrichton novels. I read these things endlessly in the 90s, but I haven’t touched them since then. Some of them I barely remember, so reading them will be almost new to me. I think Jurassic Park was the first “adult” novel I ever read (this was way before the movie) and I absolutely fell in love with it, reading it over and over again. He does a wonderful job of combining thrilling action sequences with real world science and history. It’s great to read fantastical stories that are as plausible as possible. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child novels strongly remind me of Chrichton.
So, working off 15 year old memories, here’s my best to worst ranking of his books:
JURASSIC PARK: even ignoring the movie, this is a classic page-turner that captures the childhood love of dinosaurs. There’s so many amazing sequences in here (many of which weren’t in the movie).
SPHERE: incredibly engrossing and creepy and terrifying; so much better than the movie suggests.
CONGO: I remember loving this as a kid and being creeped out by the killer gorillas and fascinated by the talking friendly one. (and the movie was terrible as I recall)
TIMELINE: I really loved how ‘real world’ this time travel adventure was, showing how life and language really was back then.
EATERS OF THE DEAD: I only have vague memories of liking this, again for the real world history. The book, of course, was much better than the movie.
MICRO (with Richard Preston): this would make a great movie, a realistic and scary Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
PIRATE LATITUDES: another great historical thriller. a real life Pirates of the Caribbean.
LOST WORLD: I remember nothing about the novel, just that it was unmemorable and a completely different story from the movie.
GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY: I remember liking this, but I don’t remember why.
NEXT: I vaguely remember this one being just okay.
STATE OF FEAR: hilarious right wing propaganda but still a page turner!
PREY: I just remember this being very small and unmemorable.