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“Next” and “Congo” by Michael Crichton

Friday, October 01, 2010 - Book Reading

Next

This book was fantastic, however, it seemed more like a collection of short stories that share a few characters than a novel.  It bounced around a lot between story-lines that barely intercepted each other and when they did it was typically minimal.  That doesn’t take away from the greatness of the book, though.  In a way, it adds to it.

My favorite part of this book, not including the talking, sentient animals, are the “news articles.”  They appear between many of the chapters and announce things like “ADULTS DON’T GROW UP ANYMORE” and “HUMANS AND CHIMPS INTERBRED UNTIL RECENTLY.”  This one cracks me up the most because I’m a blonde.  :-D

BLONDES BECOMING EXTINCT

Endangers Species to ‘Die Out in 200 Years’

According to the BBC, “a study by experts in Germany suggests people with blonde hair are an endangered species and will become extinct by 2202.”  Researchers predict that the last truly natural blonde would be born in Finland, a country that boasts the highest proportion of blondes.  But scientists say too few people now carry the genes for blondes to last much longer.  The researchers hinted that so-called bottle blondes “may be to blame for the demise of their natural rivals.”

Not every scientist agrees with the predictions of impending extinction.  But a study by the World Health Organization does indicate that natural blondes are likely to become extinct within the next two centuries.

More recently, the probability of extinction was reviewed by The Times of London, in light of new data about the evolution of the MC1R gene for blondeness.

That particular article topic is visited a few times throughout the book.  In one of the articles it even suggests that blondes are the smartest people.  :-p

Anyways, this entire book is about genetics, gene therapy, and the legal issues surrounding the patenting and “ownership” of genes.  It highlights the problems with people being so sue-happy and how ridiculous the idea that someone can own a gene is.

At the end of the book is a very interesting author’s note.  Without including all his reasons, this is what he says:

At the end of my research for this book, I arrived at the following conclusions:

  1. Stop patenting genes.
  2. Establish clear guidelines for the use of human tissues.
  3. Pass laws to ensure that data about gene testing is made public.
  4. Avoid bans on research.
  5. Rescind the Bayh-Dole Act.

I decided to Google a few of the article headlines to see if they were real, instead I found this: What’s Real? It’s a list found on Crichton’s site of the things that are in this book and are real.  It’s surprising, to me, but definitely adds a bit of horror to the stories told in the book.

Congo

After I got about half-way through this book, I realized that I had read it before.  I’m fairly positive that I read it in middle school, but I’m not too sure on the date.

What is most memorable about this book is the way that it reads like a true accounting of an actual expedition.  As with “Eaters of the Dead,” each page makes it more difficult to believe that this is a work of fiction.  After reading this book, I Googled the story just to make sure that it was fiction.

Karen Ross and Peter Elliot are two very lifelike main characters that use each other to get what they want.  Elliot’s gorilla Amy is also very realistic.  When I was younger, I used to think Koko was totally awesome!  (I still do, for that matter.  I think it had to do with the fact that she had her own cat.)  Amy the gorilla reminded me of Koko.  Although, I don’t remember ever reading that Koko smoked cigarettes or drank champagne.

Anyways, the book is awesome and if I was to try to write anything else about the book I would end up giving spoiling the story.

Occasionally Important Information:

Five H. G. Wells Books
"Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World" by Michael Crichton

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