Prey, like many of Crichton’s books, is hard to peg down into a single genre. Crichton had this masterful approach of blending sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and horror. Compared to some of his other books, Prey is a bit tamer. By that, I mean that the book is easier to read. The explanations of real-world science that leads to the sci-fi aspect are not as intense as in his other works like Congo or Jurassic Park. That being said, science and new technology will still scare you senseless after reading Prey.
The mystery, like the science, was on the lighter side in Prey (for a Crichton book). The story had the twists and turns you can expect from Crichton’s work but to a lesser extent. None of the reveals felt particularly surprising; Prey did not have any “I did NOT see that coming” moments. On the whole, Prey is one of the easier Crichton books for a general audience. It is a good starting point for people who want to test the waters with his novels and may not want to jump feet first into the sheer level of science and raw information that is prevalent in many of his other acclaimed novels.
Readers can see bits and pieces of Crichton’s earlier works repeating themselves in Prey. The book centers around a group of scientists trying to stop a threat the rest of the world does not know about that could ultimately have global repercussions, similar to The Andromeda Strain. The threatening technology was made by scientists basing their work off of technology they did not 100% understand. In other words, the scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn’t stop to think if they should. And when disaster finally strikes it is a battle of man vs. monster, a common theme in many Crichton books.
For the time being, Prey is one of Crichton’s books that has aged well. This was the 3rd-to-last book published before Michael Crichton died. The relative newness of Prey makes the sci-fi aspect more believable compared to his older works. Take something written much earlier like Congo in comparison. A lot of the “advanced technology” in Congo is technology we actually have today. Or are a least a lot closer to in the present than when Congo came out. The technology in Prey is still far enough away that it feels futuristic enough to be scary. Technology we have already tamed is not scary; upcoming technology that could potentially spiral out of control is very scary.