Author: Michael Crichton
Year Published: 2002
Synopsis: In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles—micro-robots—has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.
It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.
Every attempt to destroy it has failed.
And we are the prey.
As fresh as today's headlines, Michael Crichton's most compelling novel yet tells the story of a mechanical plague and the desperate efforts of a handful of scientists to stop it. Drawing on up-to-the-minute scientific fact, Prey takes us into the emerging realms of nanotechnology and artificial distributed intelligence—in a story of breathtaking suspense. Prey is a novel you can't put down.
Because time is running out.
Review: I've never read a Michael Crichton novel before, and now I'm a little concerned as to what I might be missing out on. This book was absolutely fantastic, and I'm so glad it was recommended to me. I loved how the real science was blended with fiction - it made everything seem so much scarier because it might actually be able to happen. Nanoparticles can be kind of scary anyway, but to have a swarm of them become self-aware is terrifying. After taking a class on nanotechnology, it was also really interesting to see the field in its earlier stages even though it was presented in a work of fiction.
Although the book picked up about 1/4 of the way through, the beginning seemed a little slow. Yes, it was necessary background, but I had a little bit of a hard time getting past all of the family issues and such before coming to the meat of the story. It was interesting and well written, but it just didn't seem like it was important (at first). I do think it made the story more feel real though - all of the characters are flawed in some way or another, and nobody is perfect or makes the best decisions.
I also really enjoyed how subtle details from earlier in the book came into play later on, once we start to learn about the swarms. Not everything is as it seems, and it makes for a more thrilling read. At least in my humble opinion. And then you have the swarms themselves. Those things are freaking scary, and it's amazing to me how Crichton is able to take something that is just a bunch of tiny robots and turn it into a crazy predator that hunts pretty much everything that moves. And then, even when the story starts to get weird, it's still pretty crazy and I could totally see it happening.
I will definitely be checking out more of Crichton's books - I'll probably hunt down Jurassic Park next. This book has some pretty strong language in it, so I wouldn't recommend it to young kids or anyone who is easily offended, but I would definitely recommend this to any fans of fiction backed by real science, suspense, thrillers, and all those sorts of books. I would give this book a 4/5.