Airframe by Michael Crichton is my second book read for the #TBR20 challenge.
In 1996, an airplane traveling from Hong Kong to Denver hit some unexpected turbulence which caused the nose of the plane to wag up and down several times in mid-flight. This caused people who were not fastened in their seatbelts to fly around the cabin. The plane managed to land, but the result of the incident was 3 dead, dozens wounded.
This incident was an absolute tragedy, and indeed a nightmare for the airline company who in investigating the turbulence theory is now running down the possibility of a technical flaw with that particular model of plane, or even pilot error; all the while, the airline tries to keep their reputation intact. Casey Singleton, Vice-president of Quality Assurance at fictional Norton Airlines is charged with investigating the cause, and it’s apparent to her a few things don’t add up. This “technical flaw” scandal is heating up, and a massive PR nightmare develops that now includes fighting off the tabloid media’s insatiable appetite. Not only that, the company was in the midst of brokering a deal to sell their freight of planes to China which concerns and stokes ire among the unionized production staff. Casey has her hands full.
What a timely book Airframe was, especially with all the talk over the past year of planes getting lost or crashing into the ocean. Crichton had the amazing ability to write about anything like he knew what he was talking about. When I read the book I though for sure he could pilot a plane. In the same vein, writing about something as technical as airplanes and the jargon they use (stalls, slats, aft), Crichton always kept the lay reader in mind, writing on a subject in a non-patronizing way. There is also a lot of repetition, so that one wouldn’t have to make notes as they were reading.
My first Crichton novel was Disclosure, which really took over my life for a solid three weeks. Excellent book. I picked up Airframe last February (yes, LAST YEAR!) and it too absorbed me for over half of the book. Then, so it goes with me, I got distracted, and the book basically collected dust on my bedside table. I think something changed, because I picked it up again following my commitment to #TBR20 and proceeded with the rest…and I have to say I seriously struggled through the rest of the book. The first half was exciting…the confusion of what happened, trying to piece things together, and looking at a tragedy from the inside of a company doing damage control. That was great. But the second half felt draggy and I began to feel impatient. I didn’t feel it was getting there fast enough…I speed read the last 100 pages. The conclusion also left me a little unimpressed.
To conclude, I think I left Airframe idle for too long, and in doing so, it lost its magic. It doesn’t mean you won’t engage with it.
Airframe / Michael Crichton
#TBR20 Project Participant!!
The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at evastalker.com. The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.