Michael Crichton"s "Next" Is Serious Monkey Business

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The first thing you should know about Michael Crichton is the dude can tell a story like few others ever have.
Not unexpectedly, this holds true with his 2006 book, Next.
You also should remember that he was six-feet-nine inches tall.
I'm not sure what that factoid has to do with a book review but any time a person reaches such an impressive physical stature and doesn't play professional basketball, it should be duly noted.
As a teenager, I was infatuated with early Crichton work (Congo, Sphere, Jurassic Park).
He sort of lost me through the Disclosure, Rising Sun, and Airframe years but Prey, State of Fear, and Next got my attention again in a big way.
Crichton novels work best when they're focused around a "big idea" and Next is no exception.
The big idea here regards the ramifications of corporations and universities patenting parts of the human genome for the purpose of developing high dollar medical treatments.
Followed to its logical conclusion, what if a company patented a cell line taken from a particular person but then lost the cells? Would this company be within their legal rights to forcefully claim another sample of those cells from the person, even if that person was unwilling to provide it? I don't pretend to be the scientist Crichton was, so will leave nitpicking over the details to others.
For me, the drawbacks were lack of character development and way too many characters in the mix - it seemed he was adding new people every chapter through the first third of the book.
I literally quit wasting my brainpower trying to keep them all straight and decided the important ones would make themselves known at the appropriate time as the story progressed.
On the plus side were the brain-bending "what if" questions posed, best represented by the transgenic parrot, Gerard, and the humanzee, Dave, who probably were the most developed characters in the book.
As with all Crichton books, Next reads like a darn good movie.
It sets the fields of law, religion, science, and business on separate train tracks all headed at top speed towards a single spot, then steps back to watch the wreck unfold.
The bottom line is this: Michael Crichton has always been about story and ideas, sometimes at the expense of character development but, if you like to think, "what would happen if...
," it doesn't get much better than this.
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