best michael crichton books

14 Best Michael Crichton Books You Have to Read

This collection of the best Michael Crichton books are the ones you should read if you want fantastic stories with a scientific twist.

Michael Crichton is one of the most influential novelists of recent times. He may not be a household name but you’ll have heard of some of his books such as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain.

A lot of the Michael Crichton novels on this list have been adapted into movies which is a testament to his writing and the thrilling nature of his stories.

When you’re reading Michael Crichton books, you’ll be amazed at the level of detail in his prose. Most of his books focus on scientific themes and they offer a good level of detail as well as brilliant plots.

So, if you love science, mystery and thrillers, you’ll love anything written by Michael Crichton. Especially the books listed below!

Best Michael Crichton Books

Jurassic Park

cover of jurassic park novel

Jurassic Park is Crichton’s most well-known book and the one I’d recommend if you had to read one of his books.

The plot is similar to the movie in some respects but the book differs in many ways. I won’t divulge too much but one change is that John Hammond, the benevolent benefactor of the park in the movie, is portrayed as a cold and ruthless entrepreneur in the book.

Crichton’s novel details a lot of the science behind chaos theory, and through the character of Ian Malcolm, provides plenty of reasoning why the park is doomed to fail. Crichton is known for this in his books and it makes reading Jurassic Park all the more enjoyable.

The main reason I read Jurassic Park is due to the movie. It’s my favourite movie and I wanted to read the book that inspired it. So good was the book that I think it’s actually better than the movie, which is some statement considering how good the movie is!

The Lost World

Cover of The Lost World

The Lost World is the follow-up to Jurassic Park and is also another book that inspired a movie, Jurassic Park: The Lost World.

This time the book and the movie differ considerably. There are a few parallels between the two, such as them being set on Isla Sorna. Other than that, if you’ve already seen the movie, then the book will be an interesting read and you won’t have too many spoilers.

I didn’t enjoy The Lost World as much as Jurassic Park but it’s still a good book, and like all of Crichton’s best books, it’s a thrilling read. The plot revolves around Ian Malcolm travelling to Site B, Isla Sorna after pressure from a billionaire afraid that the Costa Rican government might find the island and kill the dinosaurs that roam free there.

I won’t divulge any more of the plot but if you enjoyed Jurassic Park and Crichton’s work in general, then you’ll enjoy The Lost World!

Micro

Cover of Micro

Micro is the second of Michael Crichton’s books that were published after his death. As the name suggests, it deals with the microscopic and follows a group into the ‘micro world’ after they are shrunk at the headquarter of Nanigen.

The book is a riveting read and it rivals Jurassic Park for its plot and prose. The action is non-stop and you quickly get into the story and become invested in the characters.

As you’d expect from a Crichton book, there’s plenty of scientific detail in Micro that tells you in-depth how the scientists were shrunk and warn of the dangers of new technology and the threat it can pose in the wrong hands.

Despite only being a draft when Crichton died, the finished story is brilliant and you can’t tell that it was finished by someone else. It has many of the hallmarks of Crichton’s best books and is well worth reading if you’re a fan of his work.

Prey

Cover of Prey

Prey is one of the more fascinating books on this list. It’s a book about nanotechnology and genetic engineering and is a fascinating look at the pitfalls of such technology.

The story revolves around Jack Forman, a software programmer whose wife is a high-ranking executive at Xymos, a company that develops nanorobotics.

As the novel progresses, he discovers that the company his wife works for has a few secrets to hide and he has to race to mitigate the impact of its decisions. Prey has everything you’d expect from a Crichton novel, and offers some fascinating insights into nanotechnology.

It’s a fast-paced and thrilling novel that I found hard to put down when I read it. While not one of his most well-known works, it’s a brilliant read and one you’ll enjoy!


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Airframe

Cover of Airframe

Airframe is one of the least typical Michael Crichton books you’ll ever read. There’s no fancy scientific or technical wizardry in the book, rather it focuses on what some might consider the rather dull airline industry.

It did feel like this book was dull for the first few chapters when I read it. The pace was slow and I was considering whether to give up. But, I persisted and I was rewarded as the plot picked up in the second half of the book.

The plot revolves around Casey Singleton, a quality assurance vice president who’s assigned to investigate an air crash for the fictional, company Norton, which resulted in three deaths and 56 injuries.

Airframe is a technical book and it can be hard going a first, but if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded!

The Andromeda Strain

Cover of The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain is the book that made Crichton’s name, which is interesting because it was actually the first novel he published under his own name. He had previously published five novels, but they were under pseudonyms.

It’s incredible that the book was written in 1969 and was published before the first moon landing! Reading it, you don’t get the impression it was written so long ago such is the quality of the plot and the writing.

The story is based on the outbreak of an extraterrestrial microorganism in Arizona and the efforts of scientists before it spreads any further. I first read the book way back in 2006 when the plot was fun but seemed outlandish.

Reading it again after living through the Covid pandemic was an interesting experience. I was much more invested in the plot and I understood the urgency with which the scientists were acting.

The Andromeda Strain has stood the test of time and even though it might bring memories of darker times, it’s still a brilliant novel worth reading!

Timeline

Cover of Timeline

Timeline is a little different from the other Michal Crichton books on this list, as it doesn’t explicitly focus on a scientific theme.

A group of history students travel back in time to 14th-century France to rescue their professor who had previously travelled there.

It’s an intriguing plot and one that while focused on time travel and quantum technology also has a strong historical theme running through it.

Timeline is an interesting novel and if you’re looking to read something by Crichton that’s a little different to what you’re familiar with, this is a good place to start!

Dragon Teeth

Cover of Dragon Teeth

Dragon Teeth is the most recent of the books by Michael Crichton to be published. It was published posthumously in 2017.

The focus of the book is on dinosaurs but it’s different in nature to Jurassic Park. It’s set during the bone wars in America in 1876.

It’s based on the real-life tension between two palaeontologists, Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, and how the fictional protagonist William Johnson handles this as he works for both during the summer.

Dragon Teeth is a brilliant thriller with plenty of suspense throughout. The fact it’s Crichton’s last novel makes it special too as well as being a brilliant read!

Sphere

Cover of Sphere

Sphere is one of Crichton’s books you might be more familiar with as a movie. As with many of his books, Sphere was turned into a movie starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson.

It wasn’t the best movie but it’s an entertaining watch. Sphere, the book is very much better than the movie and is another psychological thriller with science elements to it.

The plot involves a team of scientists who’ve been assembled to investigate a spacecraft that’s been discovered at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The novel starts off with heavy science fiction themes but the longer it goes it morphs into a psychological thriller that deals with human imagination and its limits and boundaries.

While it might be one of the best Michael Crichton books that immediately come to mind, it’s a brilliant read and one that will keep you engaged from the first page to the last!

Congo

Cover of Congo

Congo, as the name suggests, is a novel set in the African country. It follows an expedition searching for diamonds that ends up investigating the deaths of an earlier expedition to the rainforests of the Congo.

It’s a thrilling novel and follows several intriguing plot devices such as gorillas learning sign language and lost diamonds.

Crichton envisioned Congo as a lost world novel similar in vein to King Solomon’s Mines. You certainly get that feeling as you read through the book and discover the world and characters he creates.

Congo is a good read and though not one of Crichton’s most well-known books is still an enjoyable read!

The Great Train Robbery

Cover of The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery is a historical novel that focuses on the events of the Great Gold Robbery in Victorian England in 1855.

A gold heist involving £12,000 worth of the precious metal takes place during a train journey from London to the front in the Crimean War.

While the book more or less follows the events that took place, there are a few historical deviations in Crichton’s novel. The main one is the names of some of the characters which are different to the actual figures involved in the robbery.

The Great Train Robbery is one of the most underrated Crichton books and is worth reading if you’re a fan or a lover of historical fiction!

The Terminal Man

Cover of The Terminal Man

The Terminal Man is one of the most fascinating books on this list and is one of the most ambitious novels Crichton ever published.

It follows Harry Benson, who suffers from seizures and the attempts by doctors to implant a ‘brain pacemaker’ in his amygdala to attempt to control his epilepsy and seizures.

It’s a bit of a crazy plot, which is all the more remarkable given it was written in 1972! That Crichton was writing about such topics as mind control just shows the breadth of his curiosity.

Crichton was on record as stating The Terminal Man was his least favourite work. But it’s an interesting story nonetheless!

Pirate Latitudes

Cover of Pirate Latitudes

Pirate Latitudes was the first novel to be published after Crichton’s death in 2008. It was found on one of his computers as an unfinished draft by his assistant.

The book is set in the 17th century and follows Captain Charles Hunter, who’s hired by the Governor of Jamaica and plots to raid treasure from a Spanish galleon.

It’s an enjoyable read and one that’s quite different from the other books on this list as it’s overly concerned with science. In fact, there’s very little of it at all.

The writing isn’t as tight in some places as it could be, but considering Pirate Latitudes was published posthumously, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Next

Cover of Next

Next is an intriguing book about genetics and transgenic animals in a novel that weaves fact and fiction together in thrilling fashion.

It’s a bit different from Crichton’s other books as there’s no overriding plot. Instead, Next should be seen as a series of differing episodes that are weaved together to form one larger narrative.

The story concerns gene research, its implications for now and the future and the politics surrounding it. It’s not as well packaged as some of the other books on this list but it’s still an interesting read and you’ll learn about genetics by doing so.

Next is more satire than serious, which makes a big change from most of Crichton’s other books. So, if you’re looking for something on this list, it’s a good choice!

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