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Michael Crichton's "Prey": A book review

Updated on November 10, 2014

"It's midnight now. The house is dark. I am not sure how this will turn out. The kids are all desperately sick, throwing up...." and so begins "Prey". It starts with you wondering what's going on and keeps you wondering throughout. This book was published in 2002 but has lost nothing in the years since.

I found this a page turner that I couldn't put down. I had to continue my daily life so it took me almost three days to read it though I would have preferred one day! Michael Crichton gave us "The Andromeda Strain", "The Lost World - Jurassic Park", "Westworld" and more. If you've read any of his books you know the edge of the seat is where you'll be sitting till the book is finished.

But, back to "Prey". Though I quoted the opening lines of the book, the first chapter called "Home" introduces us to 'househusband' Jack Forman. He's the main character in the book and I liked him right from the start. After all he was in Crate & Barrel buying placemats! We meet his wife Julia when she calls him on the cell phone while he's shopping. Backgrounds are given on both characters as Jack goes home to get dinner ready for the kids.

Your instincts kick in and you know that something is going on that very same night when Julia comes home from work...tension between Jack and Julia over the kids. Jack tells us, "I started to have the feeling Julia had changed. She was different, somehow, tenser, tougher." You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this is not a good sign and things could get pretty interesting...which they do. As it appears Julia has lost touch with her children and the tension between Jack and Julia continues to build.

Did I mention Jack was the lead team manager at a software company before being fired for uncovering a "software scandal" involving his boss?

Julia convinces Jack to watch her demo tape on Advanced Medical Imaging for her company Xymos Technology...its obvious she's trying to appease Jack. When Julia falls asleep and Jack notices the date on the video he realizes it was done the day before Julia said it was...cheating and lying? He starts thinking and wondering if she is having an affair. The two older children, Nicole and Eric, are mostly normal siblings, fighting all the time. Then there's the baby, Amanda. It seems Jack truly has his hands full but this is only the groundwork for what's to come.

Julia is involved in a car accident (with mystery swirling around it) and suddenly after months of trying to find a job (his old boss had him labeled as untrustworthy) his boss wants him to come to work for Julia's company and try to find out what's gone wrong with their program code. Seems Jack's old team is now working there and everyone believes Jack can solve the problem. While Jack can most likely solve the problem this is where the action begins. You see, Jack had developed code for his "PredPrey" ("Predator Prey") based on actual Predator and prey. A predator is an organism that eats another organism. Preys is the organism whih the predator eats.....starting to see things are going to go awry? Jack's code is the basis for the 'project' at Xymos.

Jack takes the job partly because he thinks it will help him find out if Julia is having an affair. The twists and turns on this subplot keep you guessing to the very end. The job, at Julia's facility is located in the Nevada desert in a very secure facility.

When Jack arrives he fins out he will be dealing with nanotechnology, genetic engineering and artificial intelligence...a combination which turns out to be more intelligent than anyone ever dreamed. Even though everyone is nice to Jack and his old workmate Ricky seems to be in charge at the plant, right from the beginning Jack feels things aren't quite right.

Of course the protagonist is never wrong and it turns out the nanobots are using swarm technology...something Jack is familiar with but...they appear to be shape-shifting nanobots who feed on human flesh...not something Jack or anyone else is familiar with. My storyline description ends here. I never want to give too much detail or ruin reading the book for someone who hasn't read it yet.

Once Jack's helicopter lands at the facility, the next twenty-four hours (amidst a load of technical, scientific jargon) are the real backbone of this book and Crichton takes the reader on a ride through suspense, danger, and suspicion until the last page.

I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea and I know the blend of modern technology and science with fiction can often get heavy and technical, but it is so worth following through. His descriptions of his characters and their everyday qualities help you to relate and root for them! Even Ellen (Jack's sister)...she's a minor character in the book but you meet her and understand her quickly.

Anyone who likes suspense and/or science fiction will enjoy this book. As I said, I know its not for everyone but those who like this genre will certainly like this book!


About Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton (sounds like 'frighten') was born October 23, 1942 and died on November 4, 2008. In addition to the list of books he wrote, Michael was the creator of the TV series "ER".

Crichton graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching public policy with Jacob Bronowski. He taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT. Crichton's 2004 bestseller, State of Fear, acknowledged the world was growing warmer, but challenged extreme anthropogenic warming scenarios. He predicted future warming at 0.8 degrees C. (His conclusions have been widely misstated.)

Crichton's interest in computer modeling went back forty years. His multiple-discriminant analysis of Egyptian crania, carried out on an IBM 7090 computer at Harvard, was published in the Papers of the Peabody Museum in 1966. His technical publications included a study of host factors in pituitary chromophobe adenoma, in Metabolism, and an essay on medical obfuscation in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Michael Crichton The Official Site, About Michael Crichton,

Read "Prey" the whole book online at

Read another hubber's tribute to Mihcael Crichton by Gypsy Willow at

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Have you read any of Crichton's books? If the answer is yes, did you enjoy them?

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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I'll have to go back and read your hub. He is sorely missed Gypsy. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      My all time favorite author. So sad he's gone. I wrote a hub about him too. I enjoyed this as an audio book too.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      It was a really good book Jon. Thanks for the compliment! I enjoyed reading it too.

    • Call me Jon profile image

      Jonathan Yun 5 years ago from Clifton, Virginia

      Prey is absolutely one of my favorite books! I have so many unanswered questions though from the end, but will restrain myself in order to prevent any spoilers from slipping out. Great review tillsontitan!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks TT. How sad he didn't get to accomplish more...I'm sure he had it in him!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      A most excellent review. I really enjoyed this book and I miss Mr. Crichtons's works. Voted up and more, Tills! :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      He really was amazing Jools. I hope I didn't spoil it for you. Seems you and I share a love of reading. I don't think I ever missed an ER episode either. Thanks for stopping.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Mary, great review. I almost had to stop myself reading because I didn't want to discover any spoilers :o) I think on the basis of your review, I might be tempted to download this to my Kindle - what an interesting, intelligent man Michael Crichton was too, it is not surprising to discover that he created E.R. (brilliant show, never missed an episode) and also Jurassic Park - what an imagination.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      You're right Lizzy, Robing Cook did write Coma, I'm going to fix that in my hub right now. That's what happens when you don't double check your Internet resources! I enjoy both authors ;) Thanks for your help and your vote.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I just got around to reading "Prey" this year on my Nook reader. I love this genre, and have read (I think) most of his, as well as Robin Cook's works. (I believe "Coma" was one of Cook's.)

      This was a great hub to introduce someone to Crichton, without having any spoilers. ;-)

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      You are most welcome Leah.

      Good idea Moonlake...hope you enjoy.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Will have to download this one to my Nook. I want to use up my gift cards at Barns and Noble. So this will be one of the books. Voted uP!

    • Leah Vanessa profile image

      Leah Vanessa 5 years ago

      Ok, thank you :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Leah if they're interested in Sci-Fi I don't see why not. There's no sex in the book. There is some 'bad language' but no more than they would hear on the bus.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Yes! Proffesionally done. I mentioned you on my last hub! Thanks!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Oh I'm so glad I really gotcha on one Lord! I think you might be saying you agree with Docmo that I write a good review ;) Paula always makes us laugh!

      Peg, I bet you enjoy this...definitely a page turner.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Mary, You've picked one of my favorite authors to review and now that I've read this I want to get the book for my upcoming vacation! Yes, It sounds like just the kind of page turner that keeps me reading into the late night hours. You've set up the action just perfectly without giving away the important parts. Now I must find out how it turns out.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Terribly sold on this one Mary. I have a admiration for science and nano-tech stuff. Docmo said so right! I was born on Nov 5th, and he died a day before of my 46th b-day. Will have to catch up where he left. Great review Mary, and Paula made laugh so loud!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Austinstar, love the new profile pic...very pensive. Funny the first book of Crichton's that I read was "Coma" too! Thanks for the thumbs up on "Prey".

      Rusticliving if you like sci-fi you'll like "Prey". Thanks for the thumbs up.

      Listen Effer, I was on the pushing end of those deals, it was a no brainer ;)

      Thanks Vellur.

      Glad you enjoyed my review Graham!

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      A nice in depth review. I'm more of a non-fiction man myself. Well done.


    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Michael Crichton - one of my favorite authors. A great review and an interesting read.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      LMAO....funny! Don't be lyin to have so birthed babies!! Time to birth a book......

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 5 years ago from California

      I just started reading Michael Crichton's " Congo." I've heard of "Prey" but I haven't bought the book yet. I'm glad you wrote this commentary on it. It looks very intriguing so I will definitely pick it up! Thanks for sharing Mary! Thumbs up! Lisa

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Michael Chrichton is one of my very favorite authors and the almost undisputed winner of the techno thriller genre. The first book I ever read of his was the medical thriller, Coma which later gave us our first look at Tom Selleck as a well defined living corpse. Excellent book and movie.

      Prey may be one of Chrichton's sleeper books. It is an excellent read like all of the Chrichtons novels. They are always close to being real and scary.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Oh GF I am an avid or should I say "rabid" reader! Put a book in front of me and I'm awake nights reading it! My daughter just gave me "Hunger Games" but I'm not going to start reading it until after the holiday....a book of my own? Oh Lordie, Miss Scarlet I ain't birthed no babies!

      I know Steve, I wonder why they didn't make a move either...maybe too many technical difficulties ;) Thanks for the vote!

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for the review Mary, I haven't read Prey, it does sound interesting surprised they haven't turned it into a film like many of Crichton's other books.

      I remember a Star Trek TNG episode which had swarms of nanobots infecting the Enterprise.

      Voted Up and Interesting.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Till....Oh my, such a shame and terrible loss to the literary world, at such a young age. Sad.

      I am familiar with Michael and love what works I have read. You have completely sold me on "Prey." (Ever thought of selling mud to a pig farmer? No doubt you could!)

      All I ask, GF, is that you introduce these fabulous reads, s l o w l y. I do not devour books as quickly as I used to......and your FABULOUS reviews get me racing to the library, piling books up, only to have to have them re-newed before I've even read them! lol.

      Your gift with words tells me you need to get busy writing that book of your OWN!...............UP+++ & shared.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Crichton was a great writer Mohan...glad you liked my review of 'Prey'. I agree he died too early with so much more to offer. His education and background helped make his books so believable. Thank you for the compliment BTW, I enjoy writing reviews.

      MPerrott thanks for reading and voting up!

      Janine its in the 'scary' genre I guess but a good read.

      Amberld hope you enjoy the book. You're welcome.

      Carol...wasn't sure about book reviews on hubpages. I know the Shades of Grey series did well but that's because of their current controversial popularity. Steven Tyler review didn't fare anywhere near as well. Guess I'll have to read more and post more. Thanks for the vote.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      He has also been one of my favorite authors. And you did a great job on this hub describing the book. I love book reviews here and wish there were more. Nice to have some one share enough information for you to make a decision on whether or not you want to read the book. Thanks for a great hub. Voting up and Sharing.

    • amberld profile image

      Amber Dahnke 5 years ago from New Glarus, WI

      This book is something I am going to have to read! It sounds so interesting and I also have loved Micheal Crichton since the Andromeda Strain. Will be checking it out soon. Thanks for the great review!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Mary, am avid reader, but admit I have never really read one of Michael Crichton's books, but after reading your review here I am definitely going to give this book a chance and try to see if I can download it on my iPad. Thanks for sharing this book with us and have voted up, shared and tweeted too!!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      I've loved Michael Crichton since reading the Andromeda Strain many years ago. Great review - voted up!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks for reviewing one of my favourite author's book. Crichton was very much an early influence with his diverse subjects ( Recombinant DNA, robot technology,Dinosaurs, sexual politics, Airlines, Weather, nanotechnology, Vikings, law, cannibalism, apes, alien virus...) and gripping writing. When I found out he was a medical Doc the adoration was complete. A giant of a man physically and intellectually he was sadly taken from us too early. Prey deserves a worthy review and who best to give it to us than you, Mary. Awesome review. Shared/tweeted.