The name Michael Crichton always rang a bell, but I couldn’t recognize where I knew it from until a couple of years ago when I came across his best rated book on Goodreads – Jurassic Park. That’s right! Crichton’s the brain behind one of the most iconic ‘science gone wrong’ stories of our time. I’ll never forget going to see the movie as a child and having very specific nightmares about tyrannosauruses, so you can imagine how excited I was to realize that the source of my dino-obsession (and nightmares) came from this author.
Discovering this sent me down a rabbit-hole of his other work – which is mostly in the sci-fi, techno-thriller, and medical fiction genres. It’s definitely different from what I usually read, but I found his novels very easy to follow and I loved the immense amount of detail that goes into his writing, making for very immersive stories that get you hooked.
I’ve compiled a list of the best Michael Crichton books I’ve loved, so if you’re looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat – keep reading.
How I rated these books
I’m a mood reader, so whatever I felt at the end of the book makes it into my rating. But there are a few more things I think about when deciding on it:
- Whether the plot makes sense
- Whether there are interesting characters and character arcs
- If the style of writing is appealing
- Whether the book is worth a second read
- What other readers say about them
Best Michael Crichton Books List
Best Michael Crichton Books Reviews
1. Jurassic Park – My Favorite
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I was itching to read this as soon as I found out that Jurassic Park the movie came from Jurassic Park the book, so I did, and it landed right at the top of my best Michael Crichton books. The nostalgia for my dinosaur-obsessed self was strong and I absolutely loved discovering Crichton as a writer, so it definitely made for a five-star read.
I really liked the attention to detail in the book, covering how it all started. Crichton does not spare us any detail on the side of science, giving us the nitty-gritty behind every discovery and every plot development making it easy for us commonfolk to follow (and now I’m half-convinced I can revive an entire species myself. Stay tuned for how that one ends 🦕).
The characters and their growth arcs in the book were some of the best I’ve seen in the sci-fi genre. The way Crichton dives into the thoughts and backgrounds of the characters makes it easier to understand why they behave the way they do. For example, Ian Malcolm, the mathematician, comes across cocky and annoying but when I know what his motivations are, I can’t help but be grateful for his presence because he shares all our concerns about a park teeming with a newly revived species.
Speaking of, the book also covers the actual ethical implications of messing with nature. The entire time I was reading the book, there was this dread hanging over my head about the lines we are crossing as we experiment against the natural order of the world.
Having now read Jurassic Park, I can see how Crichton spares no detail when building characters and the plot whereas Spielberg has left out some details to make room for action and drama. I still love both, but I’m super glad I got to read the book so I have the full context.
So if you’re looking for a hair-raising adventure filled with lots of dangerous decisions in the name of science, easy-to-love characters, and of course, dinosaurs, this book is your one-way ticket to Jurassic Park. Pick it up for the dinosaurs and stay for the thrills!
- Best for: Fans of science fiction, thriller, adventure genres, and those who love dinosaurs
- Not for: Readers looking for a lighthearted and cheerful read
2. The Lost World
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The Lost World is the sequel to Jurassic Park so I didn’t think twice about reading once my trip to Jurassic Park ended. This book had a lot of focus on Ian Malcolm, so I fangirled my way into yet another dinosaur book from Michael Crichton.
Ian and his girlfriend are on an expedition led by the cloning company from the first park when they discover a horrifying truth – dinosaurs are breeding again, causing chaos all over. So our MCs find themselves once again caught up in a struggle of survival against living, breathing, incredibly dangerous dinosaurs.
Ian is a treat as usual – he’s his usual cocky, all-knowing self with a soft-spot inside the hard exterior, just soft enough to make us fall for him. I loved following his adventures this time around too, especially with his girlfriend Sarah who’s smart, adventurous, and a total girl crush.
We can’t talk about the characters in this book without talking about Richard Levine, who, if possible, is even more notorious than Ian. Add a couple of curious kids to the bunch and we have an entire cast of interesting characters to root for and go adventuring with. The cast did a lot to keep the excitement and suspense alive in the narrative with their shenanigans, and it really is just such a testament to how vividly Crichton wrote.
This book also places a lot of focus on dinosaurs – we get some pretty detailed perspectives on the different types of dinosaurs and their behaviors, explained with (fictional) science. The awesomeness of the dinos meant that I got really into dinosaurs after reading this book and now I have an entire collection of dinosaur memorabilia that I’ve grown out of, but don’t have the heart to throw out 😅.
The Lost World doesn’t just continue the Jurassic Park saga; it brings philosophical reflections, well-crafted characters, and a dose of excitement all on its own. If you’re looking for a new adventure with dinosaurs we met in Jurassic Park, pick up The Lost World today!
- Best for: Fans of thrilling dinosaur encounters and high-octane action
- Not for: Readers looking for a slow-paced, low stakes story
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The journey that Timeline took me on is truly wild as it seamlessly switched between the present day and 14th-century France. If you’re a time-travel or a historical fiction nut (like me!), strap in because this story is one for the books!
The story revolves around the groundbreaking time-travel technology developed by the Timeline Corporation and a bunch of people experimenting with it. The company offers historians and archaeologists a chance to experience the past firsthand, but as expected with those who tamper with the past, it brings its own set of risks. I felt like Crichton did a great job taking the myth out of time travel and putting us in a whole other reality, showing us the risk of messing with the order of the world.
The plot was intriguing on its own, but I also absolutely loved that at its core, the book was basically about a bunch of dorks (Professor Edward’s team of scientists/rescuers) dealing with much more than they had initially signed up for. I got so attached to Kate, Andre, and Professor Edward that I was on pins and needles the whole time, wondering how they were going to tackle the dangers thrown in their face.
And that epilogue! Oh my god, I didn’t expect to get so emotional reading a book about time travel of all things, but Crichton really did do me in with that one. It was beautiful and really made me think about how humanity and its ways of life remain unchanged across centuries, be it in the 14th century or the 21st.
If you’re into historical fiction like I am and would love to read a fast page-turner full of time-traveling adventures, this is the book for you. I promise you, it’s a real treat with its blend of science and adventure – and not to mention the adorable cast of characters.
- Best for: Fans intrigued by time travel complexities and suspenseful storytelling.
- Not for: Readers who are looking for an easy read
4. The Andromeda Strain
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When I started my deep dive into sci-fi thrillers, a friend told me I had to try The Andromeda Strain because it would change my perspective on aliens. I dove in skeptically but my friend turned out to be right, because now I, too, am worried about aliens that are too small to be seen by the naked eye but are dangerous enough to wipe out humanity. It’s a more reasonable fear than it sounds, I swear.
The book is a full-blown version of what could happen if the plague was caused by an alien species (think Covid-19 but make it space-y and way worse). The bacteria on the satellite that crashes in Arizona can clot up blood and kill anyone instantly and with that, I felt this sense of unease, despair, and uncertainty that Crichton clearly wanted us to feel. Mysterious diseases are always so terrifying because history says that deathly diseases can pop up at any time (as we’ve all seen), so when you add aliens to the mix, it gets even more panic-inducing.
The solution to this life-ending disease is a simple one, but Crichton makes the characters (and us) put in the work and race through the book to save humankind from its end. The ride was so intense that it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
Crichton, true to his style, explains the science in pretty easy-to-grasp language most of the time, but there were some instances when I thought it was a bit science-heavy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it because it made the story that much more realistic for me, but since the book wasn’t that long, I wish we could’ve had more plot and less focus on details.
If you’re looking for a sci-fi thriller about diseases and aliens or just interested in reading about an epidemic after the unspeakable year of 2020, The Andromeda Strain might be a perfect fit for you.
- Best for: Fans of medical fiction and sci-fi
- Not for: Readers looking for an uplifting story
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I was on the search for another alien story after reading The Andromeda Strain, so when Goodreads recommended Sphere, I decided to give it a try. And well, if you ever wondered what it would mean for humanity if an alien invasion happened, the Sphere is probably what you’d have in mind, but worse. Much, much worse.
The story immediately kicks off with a wild discovery – there’s a mysterious alien spacecraft hiding in the Pacific Ocean. And it gets better – the powerful ‘sphere’ inside it can make your wildest fears and desires come to life. I won’t say more because I want you to explore this tumultuous journey by yourself and feel what I did, but I’ll leave you with this: this book has one of the most original plots of Crichton I’ve come across.
I also think that it was this originality that added so much philosophical and psychological depth to the book. The entire time I was reading this book, I was thinking about what makes us strong as humans and how humanity is susceptible to its own desires. It helped that the entire story unfolded in the mysterious depths of the Pacific Ocean, giving us the perfectly eerie and intense backdrop for musings about the unknown.
Crichton, like always, makes us ponder the consequences of scientific advancement while exploring the idea of a powerful life beyond earth and we are torn between possibility and the danger of possibility. So if you’re looking for something suspenseful and extraterrestrial, the Sphere is a perfect read that checks all those boxes.
- Best for: Those who enjoy gripping science fiction and psychological thrillers
- Not for: Readers seeking a lighthearted or straightforward narrative
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When I told a hardened Crichton fan that I was getting into techno-thrillers, they repeatedly said I had to try Prey because it was one of the best pieces of speculative fiction that Crichton has produced. I agree with them, because after a riveting read that had me completely hooked, I know firsthand that Prey is unpredictable and thrilling at every turn of the page.
Let me just start by putting it out there that this book was unprecedented with a capital U. And I can’t even say Crichton didn’t warn me because our narrator, Jack Foreman, tells us on the very first page that, “Things never turn out the way you think they will.”
Foreman, along with his ominous predictions was such an amazing narrator to root for because he’s one of those characters who become heroes due to circumstance. It all starts when he’s rehired at the same place that fired him because he’s the only one with the expertise to attempt controlling these nanoparticles. So he goes all in but discovers, to his alarm, that he can’t trust anyone around him to do the right thing and put an end to the moving mass of nano predators.
One thing I loved about the plot development is the contrast between Foreman and his wife – both make different decisions in the face of overwhelming responsibility. The conflicts that came up owing to different opinions kept the tension at an all time high, and gave me enough fuel to suspect Julia, the wife, of ulterior motives. She didn’t sit well with me from the start of the story, and I was biting my nails to find out how it panned out for Foreman and Julia.
As usual, Crichton’s characteristic style of suspense and his deep emphasis on science doesn’t fail in this story either. In fact, I thought the science was even more whacky, dangerous, and closer to home in this story because it was about nanotechnology.
With Prey, you’re in for a classic tale about the dangers and ethical implications of toying with science, so if that sounds like a good fit for you, pick up this book and discover humanity’s potential to destroy the world in a chilling, absorbing read.
- Best for: Fans of science fiction and techno-thriller genres
- Not for: Readers looking for a low stakes thriller
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I have to admit I’m a little claustrophobic about rainforests, but this book came with such high praise that I set my fear aside to read Congo. No regrets at all, because I fell in love with the book, and the rainforest, from the very first page.
The adventure takes place in the jungles of Congo, following Dr. Karen, Peter – the monkey expert, and the tough Monroe Kelly. The team uses high-tech gadgets on a mission chasing a rare blue diamond, sponsored by a mysterious company – and I’m already hooked on the intrigue. The plot, the pacing, and the mystery factor made this book so immersive that I was glued to my Kindle to make sure I didn’t miss a single detail.
I absolutely loved Amy – the gorilla! I’ve always been fascinated by just how intelligent they are, and this was perfectly captured in the character of Amy. After reading the book, I have half a mind to go to a jungle, befriend a gorilla, and spend the rest of my days chilling with my new best friend, because Amy was that awesome and smart, adding a lot to the dynamics of our little scavenger team.
Also, can we talk about the ‘info dumps’? I know some may find it annoying but Crichton does it in such a natural way that you actually look forward to having oddly specific and highly relevant information thrown your way. I think this is one reason Crichton is well-loved as a sci-fi and techno-thriller writer, because he gives us the necessary context without making us wade through jargon and subject-specific concepts.
So, if you’re a fan of stories that keep you engaged from start to finish, Congo is definitely worth checking out. Bonuses include a healthy dose of science, a highly intelligent gorilla, and an action-packed adventure in the depths of a rainforest.
- Best for: Readers interested in expedition challenges and high-energy action
- Not for: Readers looking for a psychological thriller
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My odd fascination with reading about air disasters (which probably stems from my fear of flying) led me to this Crichton novel about an air disaster. Now let me tell you, this is not your typical aviation calamity tale; it’s a mesh of mystery, disaster, and detective work that had me hooked from the takeoff to the landing.
In typical Crichton-style, the book is full of suspense as it follows the mystery of what happened in the air which resulted in injuries and death, but this wasn’t the sole selling point of the book for me. I absolutely loved Casey’s character! She was super cool, independent, smart, and determined to see things through. Crichton does a wonderful job of writing a strong FMC and I couldn’t help but cheer her on.
Now, let’s talk airplanes. Airframe doesn’t just give you a thrilling story; it also serves as a mini lesson on aviation. As usual, Crichton dives into the nitty-gritty, explaining everything from airplane structure to manufacturing without talking down to his readers. I love his careful attention to detail because it makes the book easy to follow and shows me that Crichton is super thoughtful about his audience.
Airframe is a great choice if you’re looking for an exciting read about air disasters, complete with nail-biting investigations that follow it, so pick it up for a turbulent ride that you don’t want to miss!
- Best for: Fans of techno-thrillers and mysteries
- Not for: Readers who are sensitive to flying and air disasters
9. The Great Train Robbery
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Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and when I came across this Crichton novel from the genre, I didn’t waste a single minute getting into it. It turned out to be a Jules Verne-style adventure novel, and one of my favorite Crichtons to date.
The Great Train Robbery has everything a great heist novel should have: a charming and witty MC, fast-moving scenes packed with thrill and suspense, and an ambitious plan. I’ll just say this heist plan was inspired by the actual great train robbery of 1855 and leave it at that, because it cannot get any better.
Watching Pierce, our MC, go through every little twist and turn of the plan, sort out the setbacks, and fine-tune every last detail was downright fun. It had that devilish luck usually found in classic heist novels and took the thrills up a notch or two because our stakes are high and the robbery dangerous.
I was completely taken by Pierce’s character because he’s one of the most charismatic, subtle, and gentlemanly villains I’ve come across. He can seamlessly flit through both the upper and lower classes of society and does everything he possibly can to ensure he achieves success.
In this book, we see Crichton tackling a different type of thriller genre and leading us into a historical drama but he still manages to make it thought-provoking with the development of Pierce’s character. Commenting on how society sees criminals and villains he says “Criminals are not limited in intelligence, and it is probable that the reverse is true.” And considering what Pierce gets up to in this adventure, I can’t agree more.
So if you’re in for a fun and adventurous heist-novel, The Great Train Robbery is the book you should pick up. Go for the heist, stay for the criminal – you won’t regret it.
- Best for: Historical fiction and adventure enthusiasts, especially those interested in heist stories
- Not for: Readers who prefer a contemporary or sci-fi thriller
10. Eaters of the Dead
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Continuing our streak of historical fiction from Crichton is Eaters of the Dead that takes us into the depths of history with a tale focused on Vikings and an Arab courtier named Ibn Fadlan. When I first read this, I felt like it was sneakily similar to Beowulf, and lo and behold, Crichton had actually fashioned it off the classic epic. The result? An equally epic adventure that had me hooked from the very start.
The story follows Fadlan who travels all the way from Baghdad to end up helping the Vikings get rid of a terrifying monster. The book is written in the form of a travel journal and a manuscript, and the choice of this form made for an amazing reading experience because I truly felt like I was actually following Fadlan along his trials and tribulations through his 10th century travelog.
As is expected from a novel about fighting a literal monster, the plot unfolds with gripping action and relentless suspense. Reading it was like being in the middle of the action itself, nervously anticipating the next move of the unseen menace and not knowing what to do when the inevitable attack came.
Set against the suspense were the intriguing observations that Fadlan made of the Vikings, and I absolutely loved the contrast between action and contemplation. He is as much a historian as he is a fighter, and he documents the Vikings, their culture, and their curious way of life as they attempt to slay the deadly beast that haunts them in the night.
If you enjoy historical fiction, you might like this travelog-style thriller novel from Crichton because it’s got the perfect combo of action and intrigue. Buckle up for an exquisite dive into the life of Vikings, set in an exciting reawakening of the classic Beowulf.
- Best for: Fans historical fiction and adventure, readers who like retellings
- Not for: Readers looking for an urban or contemporary thriller
11. The Terminal Man
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I haven’t really explored medical thrillers, but when I saw that Crichton has a well-known medical thriller in his list of works, I decided to give it a shot. It was bone-chilling and exciting from the get-go, and I recommend this to anyone who wants to start exploring the genre.
The plot itself terrified me. Benson is a man who frequently suffers violent seizures, so the Neuropsychiatric Research Unit decides to apply an experimental method on him in an attempt to ‘cure’ him. This method converts Benson’s seizures to pleasurable experiences in his brain through the use of electrodes, and Benson, liking this feeling a little too much, learns to increase the simulation. However, when it becomes difficult for his brain to handle, he escapes from the hospital with a deadly intent.
The book had my heart in my throat from start to finish and I promise you, I’m not exaggerating. The breakneck pace of events accumulating with each turn of the page gave it an exhilarating feel of a superhero saga, except our protagonist wasn’t a hero; he was a man medically induced to be a maniac and I loved how unhinged and out of control he was as the villain of his own story.
While Crichton is known for piling a lot of scientific information into his novels, The Terminal Man deviates from this formula. It doesn’t give us the usual scientific information overload, but instead resorts to an explanation limited to the unfolding events. I felt like something was missing, probably because I don’t have any kind of background on medicine and would have appreciated more of that classic Chrichton detail but still, the lack of detail didn’t take away anything from the plot development or characters.
If you’re looking to switch up genres with a medical thriller, The Terminal Man might be right up your alley because it has a maniac villain that you can sympathize with, a crazy science experiment gone wrong, and a thrilling chase to make things right. What more could you ask for?
- Best for: Readers who like medical experiments and psychological exploration in books
- Not for: Readers looking for a contemporary or urban thriller
12. Odds On
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a heist movie and a techno-thriller combined to make a single work of fiction? Well, after reading Crichton’s Odds On, I no longer had to guess because I got to jump in on a heist gone wrong as variables in the plan go haywire.
Jencks, Miguel, and Bryan mastermind a plan to rob Reina, and like in all well-laid plans, they have to account for one too many variables. And in this case, the hiccups in the plan come in the form of three beautiful women and technical failures that Jencks didn’t account for.
I loved the whole summery vibe of the book that came from the hotel’s descriptions, its guests and all the partying, because it gave the heist trope a whole new face lift. I definitely had fun reading this book because the characters kept me engaged with banter and scheming and the narrative kept me guessing on where the story would take me.
This is one of the early novels by Crichton and I have to say it shows. There’s a few plot holes here and there with a couple of places where I felt the story dragged on, but thanks to the technical add-ons and the well-crafted heist plan, I could really see the exceptional thriller writer Crichton would become a few more novels later.
That said, I definitely had fun reading Odds On. This is a low-stakes heist thriller perfect for a beach read or to take a break from Crichton’s high-pressure thrillers, so I recommend Odds On to anyone who wants a lighthearted read with heist thrills, close calls, and unexpected alliances.
- Best for: Fans of low-stakes heist thrillers
- Not for: Readers looking for a well-written thriller
13. State of Fear
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Can I just take a minute to talk about how Crichton effortlessly weaves science and suspense together, sparing no detail all the while making the book a thrilling ride? That’s exactly what happens in State of Fear, and even though the book is huge with nearly 700 pages, I could not put it down.
So the plot follows Dr. John Kenner, who is a genius environmental scientist, and a whole gang of characters who are on a race against time to stop the world from literally being destroyed by itself. Talk about one hell of a premise.
I was sold enough by the setting, but I have to say the locations explored across the book took the cake this time. From the icy depths of Antarctica to the tropical vibes of the Pacific, Crichton paints beautiful landscapes with his words that make you feel like you’re right there, battling the elements alongside the characters. The natural beauty of the backdrop was jarring (in a good way) against the intensity of the plot, so I really think Crichton wanted to make a statement about environmental action by making the locations stand out.
Crichton also threw in facts and perspectives so seamlessly into the book, making us question everything we thought we knew about climate change which, I feel, is timely and necessary, given the climatic state of the world right now.
So, if you are in a mood for a heart-pounding and mind-expanding read, give State of Fear a read. I’m pretty sure you’d come away with more than a chilling reading experience.
- Best for: Techno-thriller enthusiasts, fans of political intrigue and climate change themes
- Not for: Readers looking for a low stakes thriller
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Workplace drama is always a banger on screen and, of course, IRL, but this was the first time I read a book with corporate drama/intrigue/thriller as the main plotline. Trust me when I tell you it was suspenseful read full of twists and turns (and lot of tea🍵).
Tom, our senior executive MMC, is just trying to climb the career ladder when his ex, Meredith, decides to drop a harassment bombshell on his promotion parade. Honestly, all that corporate scheming, juicy accusations, and professionally-veiled drama throughout the book literally had me raising eyebrows on more than a few occasions.
The story really feels like something you might encounter at work with everyone stirring up trouble for their own benefit. I loved how the book prompted me to reflect on the crafty getups of people trying to gain power in office or outside of it. It also convinced me that anyone could be plotting something nefarious at work, so here’s looking at you, my work bestie! 😆
Crichton’s dialogue is snappy and the characters are colorful and intriguing to follow around, so the book had me feeling like I was eavesdropping on the hottest tea being spilt in the break room.
So if you are up for a corporate rollercoaster along with scandalous secrets and twists, Disclosure is the book to buckle up for. Be warned, you might come away with an unhealthy suspicion about your co-workers!
- Best for: Readers who enjoy thrillers with a corporate twist
- Not for: Readers looking for a sci-fi thriller
15. Pirate Latitudes
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Action? Adventure? Pirates? Sign me up, yes, thank you. Michael Crichton took me on an unforgettable adventure of sea battles and treasure hunts in the Caribbean, starting with Hunter’s daring pursuit of a Spanish galleon.
I was immediately taken with the premise because it scratched this super specific itch for a Pirates of the Caribbean-like setting and honestly, Pirate Latitudes is how I’d imagine the movies would read like if they were written into a book.
The story was not just about the loot (even though we were hanging around literal pirates), it was also about exploring mysterious tribes, ancient ruins, and adventuring through unexpected challenges on the way.
Crichton also weaves in political intrigue masterfully into the plot, and it really made for an awesome combo along with the piracy. Captain Hunter battles not just the sea, but also European powers and local authorities out in the hunt for him. Add to this the crew’s alliances and betrayals, and we get a Crichton-brand thriller on the high seas.
Pirate Latitudes kept me hooked with adventure, camaraderie, and unexpected turns from start to finish, so I’m recommending it for those who fantasized about becoming a pirate – the Neverland variety or the Jack Sparrow variety.
- Best for: Those who like exciting stories with pirates, action, and political intrigue
- Not for: Readers who want a contemporary thriller
Well, there you have it – my picks of the best Michael Crichton books. From dinosaurs and extraterrestrial life to pirates and mad scientists, Crichton has a diverse range to pick your next read from. So try out a few sci-fi or techno-thrillers that appeal to you best, and you might just discover a cool new go-to author. Happy reading!
What to Read Next
I recommend checking out ‘No products found.’ from my list of the best James Patterson books if you want to maintain the sci-fi-high. The plot covers a post-apocalyptic dystopian society that’s been taken over by robots so it’s a bit of a switch up from dinosaurs, but it’s another interesting take on what could happen if technology went too far.
If you want more thrillers to add to your TBR, you might want to check out my collection of book lists and reviews of the thriller genre.
No products found. is his most popular work with over 935,000 readers rating it on Goodreads. No products found. is also considered to have some of his best writing in it.
If you’re into science fiction, starting with Jurassic Park or No products found. is a good idea. For a blend of history and adventure, try No products found.. If you like medical drama, No products found. might be a good choice.
There are no hard and fast rules here because most of Michael Crichton’s work are stand-alones. So you can get started with a subgenre you like, whether it’s sci-fi, techno-thrillers, historical thriller, or medical fiction.
Personally, I recommend starting your Michael Crichton journey with Jurassic Park because it’s such a classic. Then you can follow up with No products found., the sequel and venture into other subgenres Crichton has written for.
Yes. No products found. is Crichton’s Jurassic Park and The Lost World published in one volume.
Michael Crichton wrote two Jurassic Park books – Jurassic Park published in 1990, and The Lost World published in 1995.
Michael Crichton, author of the book that inspired the movie, got the idea from the work of paleobiologist George Poinar, Jr.