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    Review of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN by Michael Crichton (see his website)

    Avon, October 2003 (Originally published 1969)

    Review by Jennifer Vilches

    A satellite that orbits the Earth to collect particles and organisms for study goes off course and crashes near a small town in Arizona. The satellite recovery team discovers streets full of bodies and their base loses contact with them. The Wildfire team of scientists is activated to study and hopefully stop the spread of this disaster. They recover the satellite and two surprising survivors from the town and head to the secure, sterile laboratory located beneath the Nevada desert.

    Will they find the organism that killed the town of Piedmont? Can they recover from their mistakes and a lack of information? How did the two very different survivors (a baby and a sick, old man) stay alive? Will the Wildfire team prevent a final catastrophe as their sterile environment is compromised? The scientists are racing against the clock to find the answers.

    The Andromeda Strain is Michael Crichton's first novel. Written in 1969, the technology is a little dated -- what was cutting-edge is now fairly commonplace. However, the plot is still relevant in this age of biological and chemical weapons. It was fresh and exciting when it was first released, but it may feel a bit clichéd now, if only because many authors have followed in Crichton's successful, groundbreaking footsteps.

    The urgency of the scientists is plain and the twists of action that occur outside the laboratory should add to the tension, but the documentary-style narrative leads to a somewhat dry and distant feel to the book. Heavy in scientific details, the science is clearly the star of the show - overshadowing the characters.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 3/12/04

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