MICRO

The latest and last Michael Crichton book, Micro, takes readers through the Hawaiian rain forest, the twist is that the characters are small - much smaller than your thumb. The story opens with the discovery of the bodies of three murdered men on Oahu. They are found in a locked room and are covered with hundreds of tiny razor-sharp cuts. The question is who murdered them and how did the murderer get out of the locked room? The only clue is a tiny robot with razor sharp blades that is barely visible to the human eye.

In another part of the island, a secretive company has developed ground breaking nano technology. They are using tiny robots to harvest microscopic items out of the Hawaiian forests. The materials hold great pharmaceutical promise. The directors of the company, Nanigen MicroTechnologies, travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts to recruit graduate students to help with the research. Seven students decide to travel to Hawaii for a visit.

Once in Oahu everything spins out of control. Peter Jansen, a student receives a cryptic text message from his brother Eric who is a director for Nanigen. Peter then receives news that his brother, an experienced sailor, has died in a boating accident. While looking into his brother's death, Peter realizes that not all is right with Nanigen.

Peter and the other grad students have a run in with the psychopathic president of the company, Vin Drake. While ostensibly showing them the company's technology, Drake shrinks the students into microscopic size. The students escape the lab and the race is on. Dodging both gigantic insects and the people sent to kill them, the students show remarkable resilience by drawing on their areas of scientific expertise. The time is short however, as the test trials of others studied after being shrunk, show 72 hours is the most a human can survive at that size.

Crichton died in 2008 before finishing this manuscript. Richard Preston was chosen to finish the book and I think he did a stellar job. I couldn't tell where Crichton's story ended and Preston's began. The story moves quickly and is filled with fantastic scientific machines - but that is vintage Crichton. A story that feels somewhat like a cross between Fantastic Voyage and Mysterious Island, the book will have you looking at insects, birds and indeed the dust in your house in an entirely different way.

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