From the back cover:
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.
So just how interesting can a book about clouds of little robots that kill people be? Very interesting, actually.
Prey‘s story is told in first person through the eyes of Jack Forman, a man who has recently been terminated from his job and now forced to be a stay-at-home dad with his 3 kids until he finds a new one while his wife works a very prestigious position at a company called Xymos Technology.
His wife, Julia, has recently been acting very, very strange. He talks a lot of the past, how she was always happy, extremely gorgeous, and in love with him. Now she lies about where she is, stays out late sometimes not even coming home at all, yells and screams at her kids, in one instance even smacking her infant child for crying too loudly, and acts overall hateful and resentful towards Jack. He thinks it’s an affair, but he soon finds out that an affair would be nice compared to what is really happening.
Jack eventually gets one lucky break. He is offered a job at Xymos as a consultant, sent in to fix some code errors in a program that he had originally written himself called PredPrey, a module of artificial intelligent based on, you guessed it, predator relationships with their prey. But it turns out there is something far bigger going on than he was ever told.
A cloud of nanoparticles was accidentally released into the desert and is reproducing, thinking, and evolving on its own at an alarming rate. Now it’s Jack’s problem. How can he deal with a seemingly invincible killing machine while he’s constantly wondering about Julia? Who has to die before the truth is revealed? Is he fighting to survive just to live a sad life without his true love by his side? Don’t ask me, read the book!
Crichton did a fantastic job of really putting the reader in Jack’s shoes when reading this novel. When Julia comes home acting weird and Jack feels heart-broken, so do you. When Jack’s infant daughter breaks out in a weird, possibly deadly rash, you feel as strained and worried as he does. When one of the characters turns on you, revealing their true self, you feel just as betrayed as Jack.
The characters in the book are all portrayed extremely well and come to life in amazing ways. You’ll form seemingly real bonds with most of them and won’t be able to help but feel a little depressed when one of them falls victim to their technologically advanced predator. The only problem is Crichton’s need to keep going, even when someone dies, without letting the other characters in the book mourn the loss of a good friend. This is understandable since when one person dies that usually means the others are running for their lives.
There was one death in particular which I found particularly heart-breaking. Charlie, a loud obnoxious man who loves belching, farting, and just plain pissing everyone off, dies in a manner that finally reveals several key points to the story. But he was the character I bonded with the most since I also love belching, farthing, and pissing people off as well. I really wish there was more down time when key characters die, but the fact that there isn’t just makes the story feel that much more real and intense.
The only real problem I had with the book that upset me deeply was the fact that it ended. Some people complain about Crichton’s close attention to detail and dislike his style of describing everything in depth. I don’t feel it at all. I see how it could be there for some people, but in my opinion Crichton’s ability to write just about anything and make it suspenseful helps to keep the flow of things going. And if he stops to explain something then it’s usually pretty important to the main plot anyway.
Prey is one of the best books I’ve ever read, ranking right up their with Ken Follet’s World Without End, a book which helped shape my life into what it is today, no joke. I’ll review that soon, but for now I want you to go out and find a copy of what is one of the greatest technothrillers ever written, sit down on the poop pot with an Angry Whopper and enjoy yourself some suspenseful storytelling. Just try not to drop the Whopper in the toilet.
- Amazing plot
- Keeps you on the edge of you seat
- Characters all seem very real
- You feel like Jack Forman
- Nanotechnology is actually pretty interesting… and scary!
- Some people don’t like Crichton’s close attention to detail
- No time to mourn the deaths of characters you’ve bonded with as everything is happening too fast to keep suspense as high as possible.
Overall: 8.8/10 (Great)
Story: 9.0/10 (Nanobots have never been this interesting… or horrifying)
Characters: 9.0/10 (You’ll grow attached to just about every single one and miss them when they are gone)
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10 (If the book grips you like it did me, it’ll keep your attention from start to finish)