Review: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain was a novel recommended to me by my Microbiology professor at the beginning of the semester. Crichton is a master of blending science and fiction, and though I am not always a fan of science fiction, this book was one I enjoyed.

A space probe has come back to Earth, and with it… Something extraterrestrial. Suddenly in remote Arizona bodies are showing up, and the only thing keeping it in check is a group of scientists and their frantic rush to find a cure.

This book was more science than thriller, and will appeal to anyone who has done work in a lab. It was a highly technical novel,  with a strong foundation in microbiology and virology. I was impressed by how much fact and protocol Crichton included within the pages, as always he was truly a man ahead of his time. Though The Andromeda Strain was published in 1969, much of it is still applicable to science today. With a broad cast of characters, the novel reads more as a series of events with the characters serving as vessels of the story rather than being the focus.

There was some suspense, but nothing close to the level of thriller that can be found in Crichton’s other book Jurassic Park. One exception being that the ending was a complete surprise, and came unexpectedly. The writing was concise but not stilted. Rather like an analogy in the book, the story is a finely tuned sports car hugging the wall closely and handling turns sharply, foregoing the wide awkward turns that a larger vehicle must execute.

One thing I didn’t much care for was the absence of women. All the characters were male, though considering the date it was published and the genre, that isn’t unusual. I feel that a woman might have brought a different element to the story and made the book more relatable to myself as a reader, but that in itself is a minor criticism. I am of the opinion that literature needs more diversity in all areas.

The Andromeda Strain will appeal to readers who enjoyed the technical intricacies of Andy Weir’s The Martian. In all I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars, though it probably will not be as enjoyable to someone who does not have an interest in science.

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Have you read The Andromeda Strain? Seen the movie? I have been considering watching it with my husband now that I finished the novel, but I am skeptical that the film will be nothing like the book.

 

 

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