Title: State of Fear

Author: Michael Crichton

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 722

Rating: 3.5/5

This is the longest out of all of the Michael Crichton books that I’ve picked up so far, and so predictably it has the same problem that some of his others do where it’s perhaps 100 pages too long. But I’d rather that than it being too short.

I also liked the fact that this tackles the concept of global warming, which makes it arguably more relevant now than it was when it was first written. Crichton always tends to use a lot of science in his books, and while that’s pretty cool as an idea, it also runs the risk of leaving his books feeling dated. The good news is that it didn’t happen here.

We actually have all of the elements for a gripping technological thriller, with conspiracies galore and high stakes worth millions of dollars. There’s also a hell of a lot of death here, especially when you consider that this is just humans vs humans as opposed to, say, a lethal virus from outer space or giant, genetically-modified dinosaurs.

Crichton has an approachable writing style that means that it’s super easy to get absorbed into the story without having to worry about suspending your disbelief. The characterisation is actually better here than it is in a lot of his other books, while the story line is pretty good too. There’s enough going on that it doesn’t feel as though you’re just slogging through it. As soon as one part of the story draws to a close, another one pops right up.

What I will say is that considering that it tackles the subject of global warming, I thought it could have had higher stakes. After all, global warming threatens every single one of us, but it never really played into that, instead focussing on the lives (and deaths) of a core group of characters. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but given the threat level of one of the core elements of the plot, it was weird to see it used just for background instead of the devastating event that it actually is.

But despite all of that, it was still worth reading just to see Crichton’s take on things, and I can’t help wondering how much his characters’ viewpoints reflect his own. Some of them are assholes though, so I’d like to think not in those cases. And besides, he kind of covers both sides, simultaneously arguing that global warming is an existential threat and that it doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately for me, that’s about all I have to say about this book, but I still have another 300 words to go thanks to my arbitrary rules which mean that I try to use one word for every page that’s in the book. That’s usually not a problem, but when you get longer books like these, it can be difficult.

That’s because there’s only so much to say. After you’ve covered the concepts and the themes and talked about the way that it investigates those while still telling a decent story, there’s not much left to cover. It is what it is, another Michael Crichton techno-thriller with a lot of cool ideas to it, even if it does leave you wondering whether he was a climate change denier.

The good news is that he sources every claim that his characters make, and so if you’re of a scientific persuasion then you could always do a little more research of your own. I didn’t bother to do that, but then I’m a writer and not a scientist. The same was true of Crichton, and so you might want to bear that in mind, too.

And I think that pretty much brings us to the end of this review. The good thing here is that it’s definitely a book that’s going to make you think, and that’s all I can really ask for. It’s not something that I go in for every time I pick up from a book, but it is something that I look for when I turn to Crichton because he’s just so good at it. There aren’t many other authors who can teach you stuff and make you think without it being kinda annoying.

Learn more about State of Fear.