Ever since a brutal car accident, Harry Benson has been prone to sudden, violent seizures that render him a danger to himself and everyone near him. But there may be a cure. Dr. Roger McPherson – esteemed head of the Neuropsychiatric Research Unit at University Hospital in LA – is certain he can help Benson through Stage Three: a unique experimental surgery in which electrodes are placed on the patient’s brain, targeting its pleasure centers with soothing electrical pulses.
The operation is successful, and for a while, Benson seems to improve. But when he figures out how to get the pulses with increasing frequency, events take a sharp turn and he escapes into the city – a psychopath with a deadly agenda.
Let me begin by saying that I typically enjoy this kind of story. The premise of this techno-thriller by Michael Crichton really does fascinate me. It had such promise, such potential for resulting in an absolute gem of science fiction. It is unfortunate, then, that this potential remains unrealized, resulting in a lackluster tale that amazes the reader with its ability to underwhelm.
For starters, Crichton’s characters are a wreck. They’re stale, cardboard cutouts that show little depth and no development throughout the course of the story. Even the maniacal Benson failed to arouse any sort of interest in me. We also have the stereotypical independent female – you know, the one who ends up making all her male peers look like a bunch of idiots.
For another thing, the plotting really lacks the intensity requisite to this type of fiction. No genuine suspense is generated by the goings-on; and far from being persuaded of the precariousness of the situation, I felt like yawning.
Which brings me to the ending, the supposed “climax” of the whole shebang. I can sum it up in one word: pathetic. Upon finishing the book, I said to myself, That’s it? Really? After all I trudged through, that’s it?
Can this story get any worse? Yes. It can.
There’s plenty of profanity scattered throughout Crichton’s story, but worse than that is the amount of sexual content, consisting of tasteless humor, crude dialogue, and suggestive behavior (one entire chapter takes place in a strip club). And this risque trash is necessary to a good story in what way?
This review is merely my long-winded way of advising you to avoid this book like the plague. You’re not missing anything. Except garbage.