Have spent the last couple of weeks struggling to read Michael Crichton’s Next. Yes, one of my favorite novelists has really hit a dud with this one.

Welcome to our genetic world.

Fast, furious, and out of control.

This is not the world of the future–it’s the world right now.

Is a loved one missing some body parts? Are blondes becoming extinct? Is everyone at your dinner table of the same species? Humans and chimpanzees differ in only 400 genes; is that why an adult human being resembles a chimp fetus? And should that worry us? There’s a new genetic cure for drug addiction–is it worse than the disease?

We live in a time of momentous scientific leaps; a time when it’s possible to sell our eggs and sperm online for thousands of dollars; test our spouses for genetic maladies and even frame someone for a genetic crime.

We live in a time when one fifth of all our genes are owned by someone else, and an unsuspecting person and his family can be pursued cross-country because they happen to have certain valuable genes within their chromosomes.

Devilishly clever, Next blends fact and fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems, and a set of new possibilities can open at every turn. Next challenges our sense of reality and notions of morality. Balancing the comic and bizarre with the genuinely frightening and disturbing, Next shatters our assumptions, and reveals shocking new choices where we least expect.

The future is closer than you think. Get used to it.

~Synopsis from back of the book

Just reading this, I should have realized that this book has no story. Let me correct myself, this book does have a semblance of a story. But mostly, it reads like a collection of scary, newspaper articles that cover the gamut of issues that could crop up with regard to genetic research.

I spent half the book looking for a protagonist, but there was none. There were just some random people (not a single one lovable) who are all affected in some way or the other due to genetic research. There are crooked, ruthless owners of genetic research firms, crooked lawyers trying to twist the interpretation of the law according to their client’s wishes, scientists who over-step their boundaries…,the list is very long. Every possible issue that could arise due to genetic research is dealt with in this book.

And, that ultimately is the problem. There was so much overload of information, that I can’t seriously say that I relaxed and enjoyed this book. I cannot even say that I found it informative, most of these issues have been simplified so much that a lot of the intricacies involved (and I am sure there are many) are lost.

All in all, a very disappointing read!

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