Reviews: The Fear Index

The Newest Michael Crichton novel by Robert Harris

The Fear Index by Robert Harris is his most indistinguishable book to date from a Michael Crichton novel, in all it's positives and negatives. I mean by that, that it's a simple thriller, frilled and framed by twoish buzzword scientific/social concepts to give it an air of sophistication taken to an absurd level but with the implication that we are meant to draw certain conclusions and an event like it isn't far off. Prey- Nanotechnology/genetic biology, Jurassic Park -DNA/Chao Theory, Rising Sun- Economics/Being Japanese...etc

The Fear Index's keyword is stock-trading and hedge funds (particularly in regards to computer automation). It's about a brilliant inventor who starts finding strange things happening to him by some unknown powerful assailant.

I have told you enough information now to guess the book in it's entirety. If you're thinking of a particular plot thing that surely he wouldn't be bad enough to write- you've guessed correctly. For me this book was 200 pages of hoping that surely this wasn't going to be the big final twist and, yes it was. It's agonising as every page blatantly and awfully hints at something you know is cliched and terrible but is going to be true anyway.

And we're meant to take away a message. Which is the big problem with this forumla, because exactly enough research has been done for these writers to think they can make conclusions about things they know nothing about. They put in the work, but the truth is they've just done two years research into something they have no background in. In State Of Fear Michael Crichton thought that was enough for him to be able to tell that every single environmental scientist had done the correct research into global warming but had interpreted it completely wrong but luckily Crichton knew the way. Their conclusions might be right, they might be wrong, they just don't have the competence to be able to inform us as to which.

In that respect it's quite harmful. It's an entertaining thriller that makes you feel good because it tricks the brain into thinking you learning and it's written to persuade. And it's fun when you buy into that feeling, but ultimately it's shallow,if you realise the incorrectness it leaves the book feeling empty and false, if you don't then the book ever so slightly misinforms you.