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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  176,186 ratings  ·  3,784 reviews
A group of American scientists are rushed to a huge vessel that has been discovered resting on the ocean floor in the middle of the South Pacific. What they find defies their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently, undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least ...more
Paperback, 371 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published May 12th 1987)
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Dustin Dye I personally like Crichton's style, and I've read almost every one of his books, including his non-fiction and a number of his works under pseudonyms …moreI personally like Crichton's style, and I've read almost every one of his books, including his non-fiction and a number of his works under pseudonyms (although nothing published posthumously). I understand the criticisms though.


Integrating science into fiction. He naturally provides just enough of the scientific basis to suspend disbelief and move the story forward without bogging down the narrative.

Action. His action is (usually) easy to follow, more so that many so-called "action" writers (Ian Fleming, every Star Wars expanded universe novel). The action flows naturally in the story, and is never over-long.

Cautionary tales. He took a long-view of technological progress and was cautiously optimistic. He seemed excited about what was possible, but painted worst-case scenarios in his books and movies (Westworld).


His early prose was clumsy (The Andromeda Strain). His later books got increasingly bad (Timeline had an interesting setup, but failed in execution, State of Fear was laughable climate-change-denier propaganda, Next was stupid and appealed to literally no one). Sphere was written during his prime, and is a good example of his style, although Jurassic Park was his masterpiece.

Character development. Norman in Sphere was probably his best-developed character in any of his books, but we still only learned enough just to move the plot forward. Sphere was probably the only book where the action was driven by the characters, rather than the other way around. Crichton was good enough as an action writer to compensate for lack of character development. Too many writers can do neither (particularly fantasy/sci-fi writers, whose purple prose is a pathetic attempt to hide this fact).(less)
One1dinosaur In the beginning of the book, the book kept you interested with the comments of the large cast of characters. later, the story is driven by different …moreIn the beginning of the book, the book kept you interested with the comments of the large cast of characters. later, the story is driven by different factors I will not mention do to the spoiling of the book. So yes, it is a page turner.(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  176,186 ratings  ·  3,784 reviews

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Mario the lone bookwolf
Very much yada yada, humanities vs natural sciences and a wasted plot idea with far too less action and twists.

I still remember how boredom and disappointment grew, after the first few chapters showed the setting and some suspense was built up and then it got lengthy and neither the psychological inner character plot nor the other big mystery plot made much fun or sense, especially because the logic of motivations and thinking capacities and abilities of the protagonists were… average.

Some seem
Dec 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Back in 1993, after reading Jurassic Park (see review of that book HERE), I was like in Crichton-mode actived! ;)

So, my next novel had to be by Michael Crichton!

I went to the bookstore and this one was the first book that I checked and after reading the premise, I found it promising. ;)

So, I bought it and started to read it.


Since the beginning I was in shock amalgamated with happiness since the style and mood of the novel was astonishing good. (Of course, by then I hadn't read yet
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 7th graders and anyone else
First, an overlong apologist's review of Michael Crichton. Then, a very short review of Sphere.

(Life update: I am procrastinating).

In my opinion, you can only truly rate a Michael Crichton book by a) the depth and originality of the concept and b) the lucidity of the monologue/essay that will always occur, usually as a rant from some broken visionary genius or another, approx. 4/5 of the way through the book.

Rating Michael Crichton on his prose, either its subtlety or execution, is sort of po
Ahmad Sharabiani
Sphere, Michael Crichton

Sphere is a 1987 novel by Michael Crichton. It was adapted into the film Sphere in 1998.

The story follows Norman Johnson, a psychologist engaged by the United States Navy, who joins a team of scientists assembled to examine a spacecraft of unknown origin, discovered on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The novel begins as a science fiction story, but quickly transforms into a psychological thriller, developing into an exploration of the nature of the human imagination. ..
Sep 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, buddy-read, 2021
Crichton takes the reader down down down beneath the surface of the ocean to where an ancient ship, of a kind, has been found lying on the sea floor. Now I've not read much Crichton in my past, outside of the Jurassic Park novels, but there are at least two things I have learned about his work. He communicates the story by means of an intelligent and learned, yet personable (and that's key), main character. In this case, it's a psychologist Norman Johnson. What would be the need for a psychologi ...more

I had some idea what to expect when I picked up the late Michael Crichton's sci-fi thriller Sphere because I'd seen the movie years ago -- a movie I love by the way despite a lot of lambasting from the critics and grumbling from the book's fans. Sure it isn't perfect (with its moments of cheese and flubs); nevertheless, the exciting, chilling core of Crichton's story is evident and for me the film still stands as a great example of escapist cinema, that mesmerizing addictive blend of science fic
Joe Valdez
Bullet points seem appropriate when it comes to Sphere, the 1987 science fiction thriller by Michael Crichton. One of the qualities about Crichton's work that I love is the unabashed clarity of his concepts and the dependable navigation of his novels. Crichton doesn't seem like he's lost or should stop to ask for directions. Other writers--those with loftier creative ambitions, perhaps--tend to circle around ideas (like mankind's first contact with extraterrestrials) as if they've never been in ...more
ash | spaceyreads
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
2.5 stars. Was debating whether to give it a 2.5 or a 3, with the number changing throughout the book. Man, this was... Lukewarm? Lackluster? Disappointing, definitely.

What I liked
• Interesting premise that held my attention up until the middle of the book, where improbable things start happening and Crichton failed to make them feel real
• Slightly dry, witty style of writing, but again, made the dialogue really unrealistic

What I didn't like
• Terribly written characters. Crichton really overd
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Sphere' by Michael Crichton is a superior read in science fiction entertainment! The moments of ROTF are many, primarily because of the intentionally funny dialogue which I adored. (In my checkered history of trying to make a living, I worked as a secretary for a Department Head at a Medical Center/Science facility at a famous University. Science investigators ARE remarkably territorial, argumentative and viciously competitive.) I also was fascinated by the protocols the author mentions that ha ...more
Dave Edmunds
Jul 17, 2021 rated it really liked it

"The fears unleashed by contact with a new life form are not understood. The most likely consequence of contact is absolute terror."

I've been getting into my Michael Crichton books lately as part of a chronological read-along with Mike Kearns, from Mikesbookreviews channel on YouTube.  While they've all been entertaining reads, Sphere is without doubt the pick of the bunch so far. I'm not joking, it's so bloody good. 4.5 stars out of 5 and so close to full marks.

Sphere doesn't mess about.  I
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Well... that was very strange.

This book is a combination of psychological thriller and science fiction. It follows a group of scientists as they investigate what is thought to be an alien vessel that crashed on the ocean floor.

Crichton's musings have a tendency to be deeply speculative of the human condition, but without using language that alienates the audience. I can follow his line of thinking easily without getting lost.

This novel's plot takes a sharp left turn off the path I expected it t
Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader)
“You look so unhappy right now.” That is a quote from my boyfriend about my face while reading this. I fell asleep while reading this. In the middle of the day. It also took me almost three months to read. Safe to say, I did not enjoy it. I absolutely love/loved Jurassic Park (who doesn’t) so I was really excited to dive into my second Michael Crichton book. Boy was it a let down.

I’m not going to lie, the writing was really good, the science was fun and the characters were likable but boy was t
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Read this when I was in high school, and was one of the few times I've been up nearly all night reading, saying to myself every hour, "I need to go to sleep," but then couldn't put it down. The movie adaptation was atrocious, so don't judge this story based on the film (I always pictured Ted Knight in the role of Ted, not Liev Schreiber [though Mr Schreiber is a talented actor]). The story has a very tense, claustrophobic feel, and rightly so, as the characters are trapped at the bottom of the o ...more
Murf the Surf
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Do you all remember how great the Andromeda Strain was and how us baby boomers were hooked therefore on Crichton's future endeavors, however unscientific and implausible his writings became? Being a science, SciFi, and computer geek, I ate up any dish he served. I believe many of you were not that impressed today with his writing, and have missed a lot because of the movies instead. I truly enjoyed this book and could easily see how a movie would be made someday in the future. Since this review ...more
Margaret Taylor
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fantastic read by Crichton! Kept me turning the pages and loved the setting, atmosphere, and sense of dread. Highly recommend!
Kay ★彡
Five civilian experts were selected to join a small Navy crew to the south Pacific. They were to explore a spacecraft at a thousand feet depth that had crashed over three hundred years ago.

This was such a fun sci-fi thriller. It gives you claustrophobia induced experience of being in an underwater habitat - a damp, confined space. It also has the psycho factor, Normaaaaan. It gives me the creeps. The ending, though, was not what I had expected.
I'm reading Nick Cutter's upcoming horror novel The Deep right now and it's reminded me of how much I enjoyed Sphere, Michael Crichton's best novel. It was my favorite book when I was a kid. I remember what a page-turner it was and how much the tension kept ratcheting up until it was unbearable. I remember the plot being extremely clever as well, and how much of it was dependent on less of the sci-fi aspects and more on the characters themselves. I read it so much when I was younger, the book fe ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
One of the first books I ever read, and will always hold a big place in my heart. There's always room for (view spoiler). ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Oh I liked this book!
The psychological thriller combined with sci-fi: an excellent mix!

Can't wait to watch the movie adaption now.

A spacecraft is found underwater...There is a sphere inside it. A group of scientists are sent to investigate but of course, strange things start to happen. Tense and gripping.
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
Well, I had no idea there was a Sphere book. I only saw the movie and thought that was it. Not to mention that the book is written by the same author as Jurassic Park.

A group of American scientists are rushed to a huge vessel that has been discovered resting on the ocean floor in the middle of the South Pacific. What they find defines their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently, undamaged by its fall from the sky.
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
May 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
3.5 Stars
As I would expect from Crichton, this novel was filled with compelling scientific ideas wrapped into a page turning mystery. I liked the mystery more than the actual reveal. I just personally didn't want the story to go in that direction. Regardless I still enjoyed the novel and look forward to reading through more of his work.
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an exciting and very fast-paced read, and for the most part I enjoyed it. It was my first time reading anything by Crichton, although I had watched the Jurassic Park movies several years back.

The story opens with our main character, a psychologist named Norman, being flown to a remote location in the Pacific Ocean where he expects to encounter a plane crash with survivors that need counseling. Instead, he finds that he’s going to be part of a team of scientists who will be going more th
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Characters: 4/5
Although it was sizable cast, each character had such a distinctive and memorable personality. The book to some extent was about how these different personalities would react in a crisis situation, and overall, I think Crichton did a good job fleshing that out.

Plot: 4/5
The plot was well-paced, and had enough mystery and intrigue to keep it compelling. It certainly had some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, and it was fun to see that unfold.

May 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Michael Crichton's books can be hit or miss affairs,this one was definitely a miss.

An alien vessel crashes on the ocean floor.It is a three hundred year old spaceship. How many times has a similar idea about aliens and space ships been used in science fiction and in movies,I've lost count.

A team of scientists is assembled and put in harm's way to investigate. Crichton's characters seem pretty one dimensional to me.It is hard to distinguish one from the other.

One by one the scientists start poppi
Chris Dietzel
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first half of 'Sphere' is probably the greatest thing Crichton ever wrote. The amount of plot twists, each superbly executed, is excellent. However, the second half of the book falls apart as it becomes a different type of story than the first half. Still a very good read and one of Crichton's top five best books, but I just found myself wishing the story could have unfolded at the same high level from the first page to the last. ...more
Feb 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: I wouldnt wish this on my worst enemies
Words cannot express the contempt I harbor for this book.
My hatred for it knows no boundries. There are few pieces of literature that I cannot come to appreciate in some way, even fewer that compel me to demand the time back that I spent reading it so that I may do something more productive like piss on the third rail.

It was rather suprising, considering Michael Crichton has published some excellent work. I guess he pulled this one out of his ass while drunk/high/stoned/oncrack/bordering on suic
✨Bean's Books✨
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book!
Dr. Norman Johnson is flown to the middle of the South Pacific and dredged thousands of feet below the surface to investigate a so-called plane crash. The operation is military-run and Norman suspects from the very beginning that there is more than meets the eye. Upon meeting his other team members and being briefed by Captain Barnes, who is head of the operation, he soon learns that they're actually investigating an alien spacecraft more than 300 years old at the bottom of the ocea
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been such a long time since I've read a book by Michael Crichton, but after reading Sphere, I was completely blown away, it's just become one of my all-time favorites by him, right up there with Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain! I jumped into it expecting just a typical and predictable Sci-Fi Underwater adventure, nope, nothing of the sorts! Yes it is Science Fiction, but also a mixture of a psychological thriller, developing into an exploration of the nature of human imagination.

A gr
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
As good as I remembered the first time years ago. Now I need to revisit the movie too, which I enjoyed. The main character, Norman, for some reason is a winning character to be in the head of. There's just something likable about the guy, but then again the same could be said for all the major players. The mystery is a clever one and the claustrophobic sea environment compliments. Full review to come. ...more
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Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was one of the most successful novelists of his generation, admired for his meticulous scientific research and fast-paced narrative. He graduated summa cum laude and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. His first novel, Odds On (1966), was written under the pseudonym John Lange and was followed by seven more Lange novels. He also wrote as Michael Doug ...more

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