Congo - Michael Crichton i'm having a little trouble with myself right now. i just gave this one 4 stars and Inner-Snob Mark is getting very twitchy, almost trigger-happy, ready to take control of my favorite hand and bump this one down to 3 stars. never fear, i have a tight rein on Inner-Snob Mark and have carefully compartmentalized him away tonight. but he does have a few good points. my God, i gave the timeless classic The Last Unicorn 3 stars. i gave Room - which wrecked me emotionally and had me crying like someone died - the same 4 stars. and Congo gets only 1 star less than either Picnic at Hanging Rock or The Thin Red Line - two books that i think are perfect from beginning to end. eh, so fucken what. stars are stupid, right?

okay, so that's the disclaimer. it will probably be longer than the actual review.

i LOVED this book. it was one of those immersive experiences, one that i dived into and stayed deep. Crichton is not known for having an interesting writing style, but his prose is clean & straightforward & dry without being off-puttingly clinical. ack, Inner-Snob Mark just had a spasm when i used the words "Crichton" and "prose" in the same sentence. no complaints whatsoever about the quality of writing. Congo is not corny and it is not emotionally manipulative and there aren't stupid lines where i start breathing loudly in frustration. what it does have is a superbly brisk narrative that does not falter despite the very dense level of information surrounding it. and that's another great thing: the very well-done infodumps. i'm going to sound a little schoolboy-ish here... but i learned so much! about the Congo, of course. but this being Crichton, i also learned a lot about apes and technology and corporate philosophies and tons of other interesting shite. the author makes sure all of his research is on the page and yet it didn't feel didactic and it didn't take away from the plot - if anything, it drew me in further.

oh yeah, and it had one more awesome thing. in my GR friend Bill's words: The big star in this story is Amy, a gorilla with a 620 sign vocabulary. After reading this, you will want a gorilla for a best friend. ah, Amy... i know we would be fast friends!