From Jurassic Park to Terminal Man and Congo, the diverse novels on this list show off Crichton’s skill in the thriller genre and his interest in scientific advances. Many warn against arrogance and ignorance but also manage to be highly entertaining and hard to put down.
Jurassic Park is undoubtedly Crichton’s best-known novel, but it is not always cited as his “best.” It was developed into a screenplay that made Crichton a household name and initiated a dinosaur craze in novel writing and film-making.
It follows a group of doctors, civilians, and two children who become trapped on an island where John Hammond, owner of InGen, has been developing a dinosaur zoo. Using genetic engineering, the industrious, although naive, Dr. Wu, has recreated long-extinct spices. But it soon becomes clear that Jurassic Park is far more than Hammond or his vast wealth can handle.
The Andromeda Strain
The first novel Crichton published under his own name. It was released in 1969 after the author fully committed himself to pursuing a career as an author. It follows an Air Force team that attempts to recover a military satellite. They soon discover that everyone in the town where it landed has died. A microorganism in the area, Andromeda, is responsible.
Prey was published in 2002 and shares many of the themes seen in Jurassic Park. The book explores artificial life, genetic algorithms, nanotechnology, and more. Crichton writes from the perspective of Jack Forman, a software programmer whose wife works at a nanorobotics company.
Eaters of the Dead
Eaters of the Dead takes readers to the year 922 and follows Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a real Arab traveler from the 10th century. The book is inspired by the classic epic Beowulf and includes some excerpts from the poem. The full title of the novel is Eaters of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in AD 922. It was later republished as The 13th Warrior.
Ahmad ibn Fadlan travels with a group of Vikings north and discovers that he’s been enlisted to help the group fight a terrible creature plaguing their community.
Congo is certainly one of Crichton’s better-known novels. It follows three adventurers who set out on a quest to find the lost city of Zinj. There, they hope to uncover diamonds and other riches. Along the way, they investigate several mysterious deaths. They face cannibals, gorillas, and a genetic engineering experiment that’s gone terribly wrong. The novel was published in 1980 and was followed by a 1995 screenplay of the same name.
Rising Sun was published in 1992, a year before Jurassic Park. It is a slightly different novel that, rather than exploring jungles and scientific advances, spends its pages in the corporate world of Los Angeles. Crichton writes about the competing interests of Japanese and American businesses and how they intertwine with murder.
The Lost World
The Lost World is the sequel to Jurassic Park that was published in 1995. It follows a group, including Dr. Ian Malcom, to a second island populated by dinosaurs, Isla Sorna. Malcolm travels to the island after a colleague goes missing there. The book is quite different from the film of the same name, released in 1997.
In Terminal Man, published in 1972, Crichton explores the implicates of a brain-based pacemaker used to control seizures. The test subject, Harry Benson, becomes homicidal and terrorizes his city. Famously, Crichton described Terminal Man as his least favorite novel of his career.
The novel was published posthumously in 2017 and is set in the American West. It follows a young student caught up in a surprising controversy while hunting for fossils.
Twister is a book written after the successful Twister film was released. It follows a group of storm chasers intent on using any means necessary to record what happens inside a massive tornado. The screenplay/novel is well-loved by fans of the movie as it mostly follows the film exactly.
State of Fear
A 2004 novel focused on a group of eco-terrorists plotting a series of crimes to bring attention to the dangers of climate change. Although criticized by scientists and readers for Crichton’s controversial opinion of climate change, the book is still considered one of his best.
What is Michael Crichton’s most popular book?
Without a doubt, Jurassic Park is Michael Crichton’s most popular book. It was published in 1990 and is the novel that solidified the writer as a household name. It was followed by The Lost World and a long string of dinosaur films and TV shows.
What should I read if I like Michael Crichton?
If you like Michael Crichton, you might also consider reading books by authors like Orson Scott Card, Robert A. Heinlein, John Grisham, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Max Brooks, and Andy Weir.
Which Michael Crichton book should I read first?
Most Crichton books are a good place to start, but many readers find themselves exploring Jurassic Park first and then moving on to one or more of his more recent novels, like Prey or Dragon Teeth. Other great options include Easters of the Dead and State of Fear.
What is Michael Crichton best known for?
Michael Crichton is best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of the television series ER. He wrote 28 novels throughout his life and has had his work translated into dozens of languages.