First things first – the cover of this book had me completely fooled! Because Michael Crichton’s name is in big lettering, I thought this must have been a collaboration between Crichton and Wilson, where Wilson completed/ expanded on Crichton’s idea after his death. It sort of is in the sense that The Andromeda Evolution is a sequel to Crichton’s classic The Andromeda Strain, but the story and writing here is all Wilson’s.
Now that I’ve got that out of my way, let me get down to the nitty-gritty. The Andromeda Evolution is a book you can read on its own even if you haven’t read The Andromeda Strain (like me!). Wilson recaps the basics of Crichton’s story in his plot – 50 years ago, the entire populace of Piedmont, a small town in Arizona came into contact with an extraterrestrial microorganism when a wayward satellite crashed there. Out of the 48 inhabitants of Piedmont, 46 died shortly afterwards, and a group of five elite scientists were sent by the US government to an underground secure facility along with the satellite and the two survivors in hopes of containing the threat. During their investigation, the scientists found that the microbe “Andromeda” is self-evolving, with the ability to change its biological properties. Even though they managed to stop Andromeda from causing havoc on Earth, an evolved form of the original strain, Andromeda 2, escaped into the Earth’s upper atmosphere in the end, which could dissolve plastic.
In The Andromeda Evolution we learn that after the incidents of The Andromeda Strain, the US government had created a task force named Project Eternal Vigilance to keep an eye out for a possible reappearance of Andromeda. However, five decades of zero-incidents have put the world at ease, and Project Eternal Vigilance is on its last legs when they detect an odd structure growing inside the Amazon jungle. Drone footage shows that this anomaly has killed Amazon’s native tribes in its path. And with signs that this may be another evolution of the Andromeda strain, the US sends in a five-member scientist team to investigate it and possibly overcome this apocalyptic event before they explore the option of nuking the Amazon!
The Andromeda Evolution is written as a classified debrief report using mixed media. There are personal accounts, phone call transcripts, and video recordings to show the powers that be what ensued in the five days after the discovery of the anomaly. This, as I understand, is how Crichton had structured The Andromeda Strain too. However, having not read Crichton’s works in English (I’ve read Jurassic Park and The Lost World in Sinhala, my mother tongue), I can’t attest to how well Wilson emulates Crichton’s writing style (although The Andromeda Evolution has a quite a bit of suspense at the beginning).
One aspect of The Andromeda Evolution that stood out to me throughout is how well it would turn into a movie. Usually, I like books that give me cinematic vibes. But here, there were moments I felt the story took a backseat to action scenes. While I don’t mind action scenes in movies, I tend to prefer a low dose of action in novels! 😀 So that, coupled with some unwelcome hints of future developments which made the plot predictable towards the end, turned this into an average read.
Note: Many thanks to Harper for sending me a review copy of The Andromeda Evolution.
** You can buy a copy of The Andromeda Evolution here on Book Depository with free shipping.