This is the epitome of a three star read. I liked it overall, but it was very dated, and has that signature Crichton lack of character development in favor of extreme technical detail. About 200 pages from the end, though, the tension really picked up, and I did end up enjoying it.
This is essentially a book about the aftermath of an airplane disaster in which there are fifty-six casualties, and three deaths. The incident comes at a very bad time for Norton Aircraft, who are in the process of finalizing a huge sale to China of fifty planes that would secure the company’s financial future. Our main character, who is essentially an avatar for the investigation and not so much a three dimensional human, is Casey Singleton, the vice-president of Quality Control for Norton, and it’s her job to figure out what actually happened on the airplane. Was it mechanical failure? Pilot error?
There is A LOT of information about how airplanes are built, how they work, and what happens behind the scenes when something goes wrong on a plane. Especially in the middle, it was overwhelming. I skipped a lot of the technical stuff. Also, Michael Crichton must have really had it out for the press, because there’s a plot in here all about how journalists (on TV mostly) don’t care about details or facts, and actively misrepresent things in ways that harm people (and companies – boo hoo). This was simultaneously prescient given the existence of fake news (which could be read as an evolution of this), and also had the feeling of an old man yelling at clouds. SPOILERS Crichton got his kicks out by torturing the hell out of the (young and female!) reporter on a plane during a test flight at the end of the book. At one point during the flight, her vomit is so copious it literally runs out between her fingers. Lesson learned, young female journalist! END SPOILERS.
I don’t feel like getting into the background casual sexism and racism, but they were unfortunately par for the course for a 1996 novel. Anyway, not mad I read this, but definitely not a favorite.
CBR BINGO: Machinery (3rd BINGO: Machinery / Sportsball / Self Care / Libations / The Wilds)