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3.8 out of 5 stars
Airframe: A Novel
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on July 18, 2004
AIRFRAME is another mystery on Crichton's growing list. The daughter in this tale shouts, "Oh, Mom, I missed you!" Which is what the reader will also echo in his or her search for character in this novel. When you write film scripts, which this essentially is, you leave it up to Sharon Stone to provide the elements of character. The heroine, Casey, in this story is one of the author's chess pieces, a woman who dumps her daughter off on her ex husband and engages in zipless sex while she stumbles her way to solving the mystery of the why an airplane dove out of control.
Crichton does put some nice messages out there. He shows how TV news show producers and anchormen become prostitutes to their own stories. He displays the infighting that goes on between corporate bosses and their wannabe underlings. He demonstrates how corporations play footsie with their big customers. So what if he does pass off film scripts as novels, Hollywood is where the money is. The reader can't have everything.
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on January 23, 2004
I'm not real sure why this book has never been made into a movie. It is Crichton at his best-- detailed, well plotted, and well written-- and while I know it was a best seller when it came out, it just never seemed to garner the attention his more sci fi oriented books have.
A near disaster in the air leaves three people dead and nearly three dozen injured. Casey Singleton is sent by her hard-driving boss to uncover the mysterious circumstances that led to the disaster before more people die. But, as you might expect, someone doesn't want her to find the answers she is looking for and soon she is risking her life to unravel the mystery.
While Crichton has featured strong women in other books, Casey Singleton is, I believe, the first to actually be the lead character in the book. And she is truly a great character! More than just solving the mystery rides in her shoulders, the fate of the company she works for may depend on whether she can solve the mystery before someone sees to it that she is no longer around to try to sort things out.
Crichton probably does a better job of explaining the inner working of airliner manufacturing and the airline industry itself than most textbooks. Well there are echoes of "Disclosure" here, Crichton ably demonstrates that the most entertaining intrigue is corporate intrigue. A truly superior novel.
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on August 11, 2003
Like a good neighbor, Michael Critchen is there. When you want to read a no hassle guaranteed good book, M.C.'S airframe is a book that can certainly share that tile along with many of his other novels. Airframe is as slick moving and as aerodynamic as one of planes described in his novel.
The story involves a plane that has an in air accident, people are hurt and questions need to be answered or heads will roll. Critchen takes a technical subject and makes it easy to follow. You will learn alot about the airplane industry, deregulation drawbacks, corrupt business men, union troubles and immoral reporters. Critchen pulls no punches on touchy subjects and makes it really entertaining. The last 100 pages read like a roller coaster ride, loops and all.
In a nutshell, an accident in the air causes many to be hurt. Now the question is cast: Is the plane unsafe? What caused the accident? Will this accident prevent a potentially large contract from being obtained? Who or what will prevent it? Critchen's heroin Casey, must put her reputation on the line as the airplane quality assurance rep, and dig through the mass of technical facts, bureaucracy and overzealous reporters. What will happen next you'll need to read to find out.
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on October 5, 2001
Airframe is a very realistic novel by Michael Crichton, which shows the real way that the plane industry works. This novel gives you and inside look at the ways that planes are made, how investigations are conducted, and how much the media complicates things. The only real main character in the book in Casey Singleton, a single mom that has just been premoted to the Vice-President position of the Incident Review Team, IRT, at Norton. She is a very plausible character, much like all of the characters in this book. She represents the good in people; the will to do whatever it takes to bring peace to chaos, which she demonstrated many times during the novel. The evil in the book is represented mostly by the media, who is always trying to get their story no matter how many people get hurt by there selfish actions. Evil is also present in Casey's boss, John Marder. He becomes greedy with his rise to success, and ends up putting Norton in danger.
You first learn of two incidents concerning the Norton N-22, their wide body plane. On both of the planes all of the evidence, the little that there is, points toward an un-commanded slats deployment. Such a mistake would cause the plane to fell a little turbulence, but then before any real damage could happen the autopilot would take over. The problem is that one of the flights, Trans Pacific flight 545, had four deaths and over fifty injuries. After a few days of investigation, Casey and her crew conclude that the slats did in fact deploy, but they are not sure the reason. Casey cannot really understand what happened until the data recorder is found. While doing a search of the plane itself she finds what she is looking for. With the help of the data box and a home video found in the plane, she discovers the reason of the accident. What the team finds shocks everyone. Casey and the rest of the IRT recreate the first flight, to show exactly how the planes problems began. After the test the give a press release and relate to the press the real reason to the flights problems and who will blamed.
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on September 19, 2001
A plane crashes, a company fights for survival, the Unions are mad, and a woman tries to solve it all. Only Crichton could construct this novel. Taking a perfectly plausible idea, and turning it into an action and information packed page-turner.
Its apparent Crichton has two things going for him - he can write fluidity, and he can write informatively. He brings the user to world of aviation without confusing or boring the reader. More importantly, he can do it while incorporating it into excitement and intrigue of the plot. This is classic Crichton.
This is a great, though non-typical mystery. It's not a who done it, but why it happened mystery. This book is not all great however. It is, after all, a book revolving around the aftermath of an airplane crash in an aviation company. The ending is a little unsatisfying, the main character evokes no feeling, and the aggressiveness of the Unions is not too believable.
It's a very good book, but it's not in the class of Sphere or The Great Train Robbery.
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on June 11, 2001
This is a difficult book to rate.On one hand, Michael Crichton's Airframe is a page-turning book. So long that I haven't spent one whole day sitting and just reading one book. It captures me from the first page and turn more excited till the end.I suppose Crichton have done a lot of research about the commercial airplane, this informative detail is added in the scene of this book and being a crucial part to get reader understanding more for all the technical stuff in the book. Very well-done.
On the other hand, I found that there is not so many impressive feeling left much after finish reading this book. I don't have any intention to re-read this book which I think it pretty weird for me. Not like "Congo", "Sphere", "Jurassic Park" or even "Travel", all these books I always pick them up and re-read from time to time. At least, the action scenes in this book is very dull. Overall, I give this book 4 stars, this is an exciting and a good choice for anyone. Make sure that you have free time before open this book.
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on June 3, 2001
The book was classic Crichton, but I was disappointed with his factual errors that could have been avoided with some really basic research, such as:
1. His description of a turbofan engine was very jumbled and just plain wrong. In one passage he refers to the fan and compressor interchangeably as he talks about metal temperatures of 2500F. The air temperature does not get anywhere near this high in that part of the engine because it is prior to fuel combustion. Even in the hot section of the engine, this might be the temperature of the gas, but certainly not of the metal. Thousands of engineers in the aerospace industry could have helped him with his description without giving away any proprietary information.
2. He refers to runways #2 and #3 at the same airport, apparently thinking runways are sequentially numbered. As any private pilot could have told him, runways are numbered by the compass heading, with the last digit deleted, so that a runway aiming to the east is #9, one to the south is #18, and so on. You would never find runways #2 and #3 at the same airport.
As usual for Crichton, the book was a page turner, but these blatant errors interrupted the flow of the story for me.
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on May 28, 2001
Michael Crichton's Airframe is a shining example of the fog over the fine line between classics and passing fads. Written in 1995 amidst a global fear of air travel, Airframe is a fast-paced story of one airline's struggle between the media and financial ruin. Norton Airlines is a top-notch airline manufacturer with a flawless record. When one of their planes goes down because of a mysterious "turbulence" the company's Incident Review Team must frantically piece together the puzzle to save a corporation. This combined with a rabid dog news agency, provides for an enthralling novel that only Michael Crichton could orchestrate.
Michael Crichton does an excellent job developing his characters in Airframe by stepping outside the typical novel frameworks and using a technique that is rarely seen in pop novels. Crichton, the founder of such notable screen works as Jurassic Park, and ER, uses a screenplay format in this novel. The characters are exposed in life like situations by an author who is basically a camera lens, unbiased and factual. While indulging in the pages of Airframe the reader's mind immediately wanders away and "watches" the action take place in one's head. Unlike other ensnaring books; however, Airframe's plot is arranged in sections and cut scenes as though it were ready for the big screen. In doing this, the characters are exposed as they would be on a film, without author narrative.
The major themes of this story are the man versus self struggle of protagonist Casey Singleton and her man versus man struggle against the biased and twisting news agency. The story is written in the "slice-of-life" format, focused around one event, and the characters are represented in a realistic way. All characters are flawed in their own way, but some, as in the case of Casey, are trying to be better people. Thus another aspect of the conflicts rears its head: good versus evil, or more specifically honesty. At the completion of the book, Crichton shows where the characters are a few years down the road, and subtly passes judgement on them in accordance with their stance on the good versus evil theme. Airframe is a book of morals tales.
The plot of Airframe, as Cricthon would write it, is easy to read and draws the reader in to the story. The story ends with the warm sense of completion, which inspires one to read other books that Crichton has written. Within the screenplay rubric, Crichton uses foreshadowing that is only seen after the event. I learned this from my father, who, because his line of work, reads large quantites of text in a short time. He has a habit of analyzing what he is reading while he reads, and immediately begins looking for evidence to support the conclusions he has drawn. It was he who pointed out some of the well hidden foreshadowing devices used in this book. The hints are in the fabric of the story, but one must focus to see them.
Several moods are inspired because of this book. The moods change quickly based on revelations in the story, once again very similar to the way moods change in a movie or television show. The moods in Airframe range from hopelessness to anger to contempt and finally to success.
Airframe is written in third person omniscient point of view with a non-intrusive and unbiased author.
I would recommend this book to anyone because it is entertaining and informative. Crichton is a very learned man and typically studies his subjects to the point of obsession in order to be factually accurate. Airframe is no exception.
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on August 9, 2000
The inner workings of this book are fantastic. Michael Crichton puts us into the Norton Aircraft facilities, with all the political goings on, the backstabbing, the wolves at the gate and now...an air disaster.
As well as entertaining us, Crichton provides with an education in Public Relations and how the investigative journalism doesn't care about the truth, unless it suits their entertainment needs (one example is the DC-10 story he puts in).
I liked the main character who is always on the edge of losing her job. She has a tightrope the size of Dental Floss to work on and timelines that are impossible to meet. That, and the fact that her superiors want her to fail. It was worth the price of the book just to see how she would escape the tomb that others had thrown her in.
The book is chopped up into days (she has 7 days to figure out what caused a near-fatal problem that caused 3 deaths on a flight.) and that provides good suspense and closure as each section ends.
I recommend this book to anyone. It is a good read and one of Crichton's best books.
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on August 7, 2000
I would define Crichton as a cerebral author. All his books are written as though he is an expert in whatever subject matter the story revolves around: DNA and cloning in "Jurassic Park", deep sea salvage operations and time travel in "Sphere", the intricacies of an 1800's criminal mind in "The Great Train Robbery", and now flight dynamics and airplane construction in "Airframe". True to Crichton's style, "Airframe" starts off running with a catastrophic airplane accident happening within the first few pages, and he leaves the reader guessing until the last page--literally.
The story is a successful mix of well developed characters, suspenseful intrigue and mystery, and enough detail to allow you to understand the complexties of airframe manufracturing without overwhelming you with too much detail. I will not summarize the plot since the book is too much fun to start reading it with prior plot details. Just make sure you don't mind neglecting the rest of your life because once you pick up this book, you won't want to put it down.
I lopped off one star because the middle of the story wandered around a bit with one of the side stories focusing on a Union protest and teamster-type threats directed at the protagonist that was supposed to add an element of danger that wasn't really needed. Other than that one minor misstep, this tale is expertly written with all the Crichton-detail that make his books so enjoyable and (gasp) educational! You will not be disappointed with this one.
(On a personal note, I particularly enjoyed the way he accurately portrayed TV journalists. Having worked in the TV news field for five years, I can assure you that his depiction is right on the money.)
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