NEXT (Michael Crichton)

NEXT, by Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
HarperCollins, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-06-087298-4

I’ve been reading plenty of books in the 18 months or so since I last posted a “book blog” entry. I’ve been a lazy blogger. I admit it.

After waiting for my number to come up for this book on loan from the library, I began reading “NEXT” late Thursday night. Actually, I only read the introduction and then went to sleep. Then I picked it up the next afternoon. This book became my Friday night date, and I finished it Saturday morning.

“NEXT” is a well-timed book about genetic engineering — specifically, our total lack of legal, social, and ethical preparation for how to handle this science that is growing by leaps and bounds.

This is not a ground-breaking or earth-shattering book, but it is a page-turner, despite some editorial errors: in one case, a genetic experiment which had nothing to do with sexuality or gender identity was mistakenly referred to as “transgender,” rather than “transgenic.”

Did the book make me think? Probably not in the way the author and publisher intended. Genetic engineering has been on many people’s radar for a good while, and there’s little news coming out of this arena that shocks me. A number of years ago, I just started assuming that human cloning projects were already underway and all manner of experiments had at least been attempted, at some time in some place.

Do I think that we have the necessary wisdom to make sensible and ethical decisions about the short- and long-term impact of genetic manipulation? As a mass consciousness, no, not so much. As individuals, some of us do, many of us don’t.

I do admire Crichton’s ability to interweave so many characters and sub-plots, while introducing expository information in just the right amount at just the right time. Many authors struggle with this — Dan Brown in particular. While being carried along by the story, I was also studying Crichton’s style, and am understanding why he’s such a popular author — even though his books tend to be rather long and scientifically dense (if not always completely accurate).

I love it when I get hooked like this by a book. I remember similar marathon reads of Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” and “Timeline.” I also hate it — because I was already really tired when I started reading, and had a lot of other things to get done in that period of time. Still, I found myself carrying some saltines to bed Friday night, so I could keep reading while actually eating something (since I’d forgotten about food for a while).

Now, it’s back to the library for this book, so the next patron can have a go at it. I hope that person will enjoy it as much as I did. In the meantime, I’ve got many more titles waiting for me….

Posted in a reader muses and tagged , , .

One Comment

  1. Hi Jen–long time no see (seventeen years, I think). I’m curious as to how you ended up in my homestate… but a blog probably isn’t the best way to catch up.
    In any case, I’ve found a place that resembles Epworth: the Earlham School of Religion. That’s a long story, but I’m hoping that the Rev. will be curious enough to follow that up.

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