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Cannonball Read IV: Sphere by Michael Crichton

By Jordan Bravado | Book Reviews | July 11, 2012 | Comments ()


coverSphere.jpg

Initially, I picked this book up on an infrequent trip to a used bookstore downtown. I had just finished reading the posthumous Pirate Latitudes and was looking for more books with movie-like visual flair. Sphere struck me as a typical alien story, but I was anxious to read Crichton's take on it.

As far as his reputation for the scientific goes, it's more or less on the back burner to the heavy psychological analysis. It does play major points in the narrative. Norman Johnson, the novel's protagonist, is an aging psychology professor called to the open Pacific Ocean to study possible alien contact. He and a team of scientists are in an underground bunker for days to research a spacecraft a thousand feet down, in pristine condition, that's possibly 300 years or older.

It's fast-paced, well-written, and includes enough heart to make a movie out of. As for the plot, I wasn't entirely impressed with the direction, but I didn't see any reason to nitpick over any possible plotholes (the science seemed solid, but I'm trusting him on this.) In any case, it's easy enough to read, but contains enough references to famous persons and theories to keep the easily-bored on the right track.

When it comes to alien contact, it started out wonderfully. What little I knew the better, for a while. When it came down to it, it was less an alien story than it was a human being story. Fear and anger are exploited, manipulation is served up plenty, and some absolutely astonishing and vast ideas were executed very well.

All in all, Sphere is creative enough to keep me reading it, and while it may disappoint someone expecting a little more aliens in my alien thriller, I certainly recommend it to the Crichton fan (as if they haven't already read it five times.)

This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it, and find more of Jordan Bravado's reviews on the group blog.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • seanfast

    I remember loving Sphere back when I was on my teenage Michael Crichton book-reading kick. The movie was ok. If you want to watch a old classic scifi with what is essentially the same plot, check out Forbidden Planet.

  • Loved the book but hated the movie. But that tends to be pretty normal for Crichton, his movies are usually screwed up from the books. Even Jurassic Park, a movie I love, is really different from the book. And the less said about the movie version of Congo the better. And Timeline? Holy cow did Hollywood screw that one up. Great and exciting book, laughably awful movie.

  • Hmm...

    THEY MADE A MOVIE OF TIMELINE. Come on Hollywood... why you gotta do dis?

  • Az

    My issue with Crichton is identical to the one I have with Grisham: one can tell they are writing this so that a movie can be made out of it.

  • Hmm...

    Really?

  • DarthCorleone

    I read this about 20 years ago when I was going through all the Crichton books released up to then. I remember thinking that the ending was a huge letdown, but it had me until that point. Mild spoiler: The "I WILL KILL YOU ALL" moment (caps appropriate) creeped me out. I never did see the movie; the reviews scared me off.

  • John W

    I was disappointed with the way they ended the story.

  • gp

    i used to have it on audiobook and would listen to it on long road-trips home.

    maybe it was just the narrator (ed asner), but it became my favorite crichton book (although the only one i never actually "read"). and the movie is still tits.

    thank you for the review!

    #alittlepieceofaxanax

  • -sal

    I also recommend the movie. It's a great little time waster, also when else do you remember hoffman, sharon stone, and sam jackson in the same movie? Plus, JELLYFISH!

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