Wednesday, April 7, 2010 By: Suzanne

State of Fear: Audio

Contrived is not usually a word I use with Michael Crichton but State of Fear is exactly that. Crichton obviously had an agenda when he wrote this book and I feel his plot suffers because of it.

Several of his other works obviously started with the idea that "something is bad and we shouldn't do it, here's why" but they never felt as if they had an agenda. They were just the stories of what could happen if the science went wrong. Next, and  Jurrassic Park are good examples. State of Fear feels contrived and arrogant.

The story is told mainly from the point of view of lawyer, Peter Evans. Peter works for millionaire philanthropist, George Morton, who donates large sums to environmentalist causes, mainly in the organization National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF). As the story progresses we learn there are eco-terrorists plotting the biggest story ever. They want to make headlines and at the same time make it look as if it was caused by global warming. The hero of the book is international law enforcement agent, John Kenner, who is out to stop these terrorists.

The problem I have with the book is not that Crichton has a different point of view from mine on climate change (he doesn't believe that it is caused by people) but that he makes any character in his book with a different point of view seem like a moron. The only smart people in the book are the ones who know the "truth." That is, Michael Crichton's idea of what that truth is. He makes it seem as if every environmentalist is a stupid Hollwood, brainless idiot who doesn't know how to actually protect the environment. There are those in the world and I wish they would stop being the talking heads for the environmental movement, because they are morons. However, all environmentalists are not like that. 

The next problem I have with the book is that Peter is a whiny, irritating person who asks the dumbest questions. I want my main character to have a bit of one brain cell, please. Listening to this person makes me want to throw the discs out the window because I hate him.

Another problem I have with this book is related to that. Peter for some reason is always along when John Kenner is after the bad guy. Why? He knows nothing of what is going on and doesn't know how to stop these people. He has no information and no skill. In fact, when he goes on the first "mission" he is almost killed. Then, instead of staying home and healing from that, Kenner takes him along on the next "mission," where he is almost killed. But then he gets to on the next one too! It's just plain irritating. No government official is going to leave to fate of millions in the hands of this idiot time after time.

The last problem I have with this book is none of the main characters are ever killed, no matter what Crichton has to do to make them live through the most improbable situation. Give your readers some credit Crichton and let a character or two die. Maybe he'll read that from wherever he is now! hehehe

Crichton ends the book with George vowing to start a new kind of environmental organization, one that will "study the real problem and fix it" instead of relying on outmoded ideas of what the problem might be. I think that's a wonderful idea but it doesn't fit with the rest of the book at all. He spent all this time telling us that there is no problem we can fix, because we didn't cause it. The appendixes are filled with Crichton's notes on his studies leading up to writing this book. He admits he doesn't know the cause but then tries to convince the reader we are not at fault. You can't have it both ways, Michael. You can't know and not know.


gaby317 said...

Tonya, I like that you're honest about your opinion. I tend to soften my reviews but appreciate reading a frank assessment of a book's strengths & weaknesses.

Tonya said...

hahaha! Is that a nice way of saying I'm too mean in my reviews? I tend to be pretty awful about books I don't like, but then again this book got such praise that I felt I had to say why I didn't agree.