Pages: 448 (448 total pages this year)
I haven't read any Crichton in a while and I read and loved Richard Preston's The Hot Zone several years ago, so I figured I'd give Crichton's newest posthumous novel a try.
The premise isn't THAT original (especially to us who grew up during "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and all 750 sequels), but it still kept my interest. Seven grad students from Massachusetts accept an invitation to visit the mysterious Nanigen Microtechnologies corporation in Hawaii. While there, they find out what Nanigen is really working on-- they figured out how to shrink people and are sending them out on expeditions to discover microscopic species and data that no regular humans could see.
Things get a little campy with the evil villian CEO of Nanigen, Vin Drake. See? His name even sounds like an evil cartoon villian. Drake shrinks the grad students and turns them out into the wild after he discovers that they might be on to some of his evil doings. Drake just didn't quite seem to fit for some reason. He really was just too cartoonish for a science driven novel.
Also, I'm a little mixed on the idea that there were seven grad students. Seven main characters are lot of people to keep track of in a novel and these people just fell flat. I'm going to blame Preston here because most Crichton novels have many main characters and I can differentiate between them all years after reading some of the novels. On the good side of having so many characters is wiggle room for some main character deaths. Lots of deaths. I admire an author (or authors) who isn't afraid to kill of their characters. It packs more of a punch when it's someone you know rather than some nameless background character. I just wish some of the characters here had more personality.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. It was pretty suspenseful and it managed to keep my interest the entire time, despite it's shortcomings.