Book Review: ‘The Andromeda Strain’ by Michael Crichton

A deadly new virus that kills infected people within seconds is discovered in a remote desert town. A team of scientists are now working around the clock to figure out what it is, how it works, and, most importantly, if they can stop it.

A friend of mine at work lent me his copy of Sphere by Michael Crichton, and I really enjoyed it! So when I was done with that he let me borrow Crichton’s first novel The Andromeda Strain. I read it in a single day.

I’ve only read two Michael Crichton books, but I noticed some striking similarities between Sphere and The Andromeda Strain. First, the protagonists are a group of scientists assembled by the government to investigate something strange from outer space. Second, the protagonists are set in an environment in which they cannot operate as they normally would (in Sphere they are in an underwater station, and in the other they’re in a sterile lab environment working with a virus they don’t dare go near without full hazmat suits).

Lastly, and most oddly, in each book there’s one scientist who, for one reason or another, does not actually partake in the mission. In Sphere, one of them had a panic attack in the submarine that would have taken him far below the ocean, and so remained on a ship, and in this book one of the scientists was in a hospital recovering from a surgery.

I’m not sure why Crichton does this, and I’m not sure if he does it in other books, but I thought it was odd at first to include a character that abruptly exits (for a reason that has nothing to do with the plot, nor does their absence end up effecting the plot) and then it happened again in another book. Just odd.

Anyway, the story itself was thrilling. As I said above, I shot through the entire thing in one day. I did find the ending to be a tad abrupt, however, and a little messy. I don’t think Crichton tied up all his loose ends in a satisfactory way as he did in Sphere.

Also throughout the book it is mentioned by the narrator that the scientists were asking the wrong questions, ignoring valuable data, headed the wrong way, etc. But when the big reveal about the virus is made… it didn’t seem like it was something they could have ever deduced until the moment of the reveal. It just felt weirdly anticlimactic to me.

But it wasn’t a terrible ending by any means. This was still an exciting thriller that I was happy to read, and I would highly recommend it if you haven’t read it already!

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘The Andromeda Strain’ by Michael Crichton

  1. I think many authors find a formula that works and then try to keep reusing core elements. Not a bad plan, but of course there’s always a danger that it will grow stale after a while.

    What you say about the big reveal worries me, though… I really don’t like when a twist comes out of left field; I prefer to have it be something where I (and the characters) go, “Argh, how did I not see it? The clues were there!”

    Liked by 1 person

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