For years, Michael Crichton has been known for releasing books at exactly the right moment. He released Jurassic Park when cloning and DNA extraction were all over the media. He released Airframe at a time of worry over air travel safety (but before 9/11). He released Prey during the introduction of nanotechnology concerns. Indeed, all the way back to The Andromeda Strain, Crichton’s books have been uncannily tied to recent events, and his research has proven to uncover new insights into the events that shape our world.

With his latest novel, State of Fear, Crichton once again releases a novel at a strangely and scarily perfect moment, as the world deals with an unparalleled catastrophe.

State of Fear primarily deals with the global-warming issue, and the book is about eco-terrorists, who are actually working for environmental groups, trying to make the world see their point of view. In order to reinforce their point, and get the world to pay attention to them, they actually try to control the weather, in the form of hurricanes, storms, and tsunamis.

What makes this book so interesting is that Crichton essentially argues that global-warming is, in fact, not occurring, as today’s media reports, but in fact, it is entirely possible that the Earth is headed for its next ice age. Crichton does make it clear however, that so little is known about our environment, nobody can predict with any accuracy what our climate will look like 100 years from now, or even 20 years from now.

Of course, the timing of this book couldn’t be more coincidental. With the horrible tsunami that has taken so many lives, it was almost surreal reading about a tsunami’s effects in this book. Indeed, Crichton could not have anticipated what the world is currently experiencing. It is beyond comprehension.

Nevertheless, State of Fear is a book that I feel I must recommend, even though it really is not a fantastic read. It rates up there with The Da Vinci Code as a thought-provoking novel, that challenges the reader to reexamine their opinions about a great many subjects. Unfortunately, there are no less than three separate climaxes in the book, which lead to a frustrating and rollercoaster reader involvement level. There are times that the book begins to pick up, when suddenly, we are treated to essentially a lecture about global-warming, including charts and article references, before we get to continue with our story. The plot suffers in order for Crichton to include all his research information into the story, rather than the story flow around his research.

But nevertheless, readers are treated to an exciting and rather compelling story that reads quickly, and in fact, feels very much like a movie—not surprising, considering the source. State of Fear has some fantastic characters who are well fleshed-out, and readers should enjoy the plot twists, as few as they are.

Is State of Fear Michael Crichton’s greatest novel? Certainly not. Is it a great piece of literature? I wouldn’t classify it that way, but it is a fun read and one worth picking up, if only for the coincidence factor of the tsunami, and for the ironic events that occur in the pages.

– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown

Book Review: State of Fear

time to read (approx.): 2 min