The beginning of this novel starts out in an intriguing fashion showing a couple of men wandering around in Piedmont, Arizona looking at quite a few people on the ground that have died mysteriously. We are quickly introduced to a Military person, General Mancheck, who establishes a team of five male Doctors, led by Jeremy Stone, a Nobel winning bacteriologist. Stone and one of his counterparts, Dr. Hall, immediately set out to this same city to investigate. They find that some seemed to have died instantly, while others have gone insane before killing themselves and taking others with them. The military is heavily involved and there is even mention of coverups in the plot as well. Then proceeds the extensive investigation on the cause of this mysterious virus conducted in the Wildfire laboratory--which is located in the middle of the desert of Nevada.
This rather short novel starts out fast but seems to hit a wall at about a quarter way through. This is the same time the story entirely becomes consumed by the medical investigation with the five doctors doing research and experiments on monkeys and such inside the lab.
While the reading of the medical jargon of this investigation is fairly easy to follow, most aspects of the actual story become minimized; and all hope for character development is gone. While this is not entirely a bad thing, it depends on why you are reading this book. Because I like to be educated while being entertained, The Andromeda Strain just did not do it for me.
What is more, the last half of the story almost exclusively takes place in the laboratory. One would think there would be no room for any action or excitement here. However, in a surprising twist, some things do go wrong while the doctors are investigating and it does lead to a rather climatic ending.
Considering this story was written in 1969, it still is interesting post-2000. We see that Crichton was ahead of his times in that he described a devastating disease like this and then researched it in a follow up medical investigation. The description still works today in most cases. The research in the story is incredible, but I believe if you are not writing a non-fiction story, you may want to include some readable factors as well.
The story itself is acceptable, it just get's lost in translation here. What really get's hurt though are the characters. Yes, Michael Crichton is not known for his characterizations, but the five leads in The Andromeda Strain were not memorable in any way.
Hey, if you are interested in the medical field--or involved in it, and you are not just looking for a good story to read, by all means read it this novel. Otherwise you will be in for a let down.