When I was a kid Michael Crichton novels were what first got me to love reading. It all started with Jurassic Park, of course (spoiler alert for my number one pick!). I’ve been re-reading several of his books over the past few weeks so here’s a ranking:
8. EATERS OF THE DEAD (a.k.a. THE 13TH WARRIOR). A highly entertaining ‘real world’ remake of the Beowulf story re-imagining Grendel as a surviving pocket of Neanderthals. In addition to this it’s also interesting for showing a Muslim character visiting Norse society (which is actually a true story!).
7. THE LOST WORLD. I don’t remember the details very well but it does tell a drastically different story from the movie while starting with the same premise. There wasn’t anything terribly new to say but I do recall some thrilling dinosaur sequences. I’m pretty sure Crichton did invent the iconic ‘two T-Rexes pushing the RV over the cliff’ sequence.
6. MICRO (finished by Richard Preston). It’s Honey I Shrunk the Kids if it was R rated and scientifically accurate. This is a classic Crichton adventure with iconic action scenes and fascinating science. They need to make this into a movie!
5. TIMELINE. After Jurassic Park (the novel) there were a lot of Crichton books I didn’t love. This was by far the best one. It’s a combination of two classic Crichton styles; the painfully research accurate historical adventure, and the plausible science fiction technology run amok story. The modern day characters experiencing what Medieval European life was truly like and how different it was from today was a fascinating premise and I recall it had some thrilling adventure as well.
4. THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION (by Daniel Wilson). Alright this is a cheat because it was written by someone else well after his death, but it’s a direct sequel to the Andromeda Strain and I absolutely love this book. It’s one of the few modern books I have re-read multiple times. It’s an incredible page turner with an irresistible story.
3. CONGO. And now we enter my holy trinity. I re-read these three books endlessly as a teenager. They are the ultimate Crichton stories. Incredible page turners full of mystery, horror, well researched science fiction concepts, and truly iconic action sequences. Congo was made into a very disappointing movie, but the book is incredible. Amy the talking gorilla is a fun and fascinating character. The dangers of the Congo rain forest make for so many incredible sequences and the gorilla attacks at night are truly terrifying. They need to make this into a better movie!
2. SPHERE. Another disappointing movie but an incredible book. Discovering a derelict alien spaceship deep beneath the ocean is an incredible mystery. But it gets even weirder and better from there. The mysterious attacks are iconic action sequences and the slowly unraveling answers about the nature of the alien ship make for a true page turner.
1. JURASSIC PARK. This was the book that turned me into a reader as a child. The notion of dinosaurs being recreated in modern day, in a theme park, and running amok was an irresistible premise for a ten year old boy. I read this book over and over years before the movie ever came out. Either this or Lord of the Rings is the book I’ve re-read the most times in my life. The movie is one of the greatest classics of all time but the novel is even better. There are so many incredible dinosaur sequences in this book that it took three different movies to even begin to adapt them all onto film.