I grew up on Michael Crichton. Jurassic Park is one of those rock-n-roll books that grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go, and I similarly enjoyed most of Crichton's other work. And so, wanting to step away from the fantasy genre for a bit (which I've read exclusively for the past year), I went back to some of my favorites.
Prey was the first one I picked off my bookshelf.
It was a quick read. I started it on Monday and finished Thursday, maybe six or seven hours altogether. Like most of Crichton's books the premise is simple: there's a facility in an exotic location, and things go wrong. In Prey it's a fabrication plant building medical nanobots: robots so small they can swim in your bloodstream, giving a better view of your insides than any MRI machine. The plant is in the middle of nowhere in the Nevada desert, and Jack, the protagonist, is hired to visit the plant to help with some problems with the computer code.
He has ulterior motives to visit the plant, however. His wife is an executive at the company, and has been working at the Nevada facility for weeks. She's secretive and begins acting strange, and Jack suspects that she is having an affair. Visiting the plant gives him an opportunity to determine what she's really been up to, as well as relief from months of being a stay-at-home dad during unemployment.
Upon arrival at the facility he finds out that a few million nanobots were released into the desert, due to faulty air conditioning filters. The nanobots keep returning to the facility though, in human-sized swarms. Like a big pack of gnats. Things quickly spiral out of control from there, and the reader finds out that the swarms have some biological functions as well, and are able to enter a human's brain through their blood stream and possibly control their impulses. Eventually the 'nest' of the nanobots is destroyed, as well as the facility itself.
The book is paced well. The first 1/3 of the book is Jack slowly realizing that his wife is hiding something from him, and reads like a mystery/murder. Crichton does a great job of making the reader feel that something is wrong, so when the protagonist figures it out the reader is already ahead of him.
Then the book switches gears and becomes more like a thriller/sci-fi novel at the facility. The formula is similar to his other books Sphere or Jurassic Park, where chaos and danger slowly escalate out of control, but in Prey it's different enough that I didn't mind. The characters are what are really important, and by then the reader cares about Jack thoroughly.
Even having read the book 15 years ago, and remembering the general premise, I enjoyed Prey very much. The nostalgia factor was high, and I'll definitely be rereading some of Crichton's other books next.