This novel is another Crichton classic! Sphere is mostly story and less of Crichton trying to "teach" us something (i.e., Rising Sun, Andromeda Strain, Airframe...)
The suspense begins immediately with psychologist Dr. Norman Johnson being sent deep under the ocean water to a research lab on the ground floor. This is actually quite an amazing place! He then meets with three other civilian scientists who were also brought here, as well as a handful of military personnel led by Captain Barnes and his team. Barnes is working with the United States Navy (USN). The reason they are all sent to this underwater station is because the navy has discovered a huge aircraft/spaceship on the bottom of the sea floor. To make it even more complicated, they find it is from the future. However, once the team is sent to the ship they find a strange (strange is an understatement) sphere object inside the ship. Maybe twenty feet in radius. Well, once they examine it, they can not find a way inside. The mathematician, Harry Adams, who is easily one of the highlights of the novel and who is a similar type character of Dr. Ian Malcolm of Jurassic Park, finds a way to enter the sphere. He seemingly does this with this mind in a sort of manipulation. I will not spoil any more on how he did this because it is a central point in the story line. Well, the sphere opens and he has entered. When he comes back out, he is not the same man on the inside. He looks the same and sounds the same, but something is just odd about him. There are some very strange occurrences that happen next. For example a giant squid attacks. Then Jellyfish. And then more. However, these events are not what they seem. While all of this happening, they do find a way to communicate with this sphere and realize he/she is not a very nice person (or thing). The learn it is very ignorant of humanity. So guess what happens next? Eventually everyone starts dying off. And then things begin to get really weird any intriguing. You have to read the rest to find out.
Although most people do not appreciate the ending, there really is no reason to feel slighted. Perhaps, it is a touch anti-climatic, but it does make sense. Many of us would of done the same thing the remaining characters did. So if you have never read this novel, but heard the ending ruins all that was built up, need not fear! It is very worth while and entertaining, even still.
Although this story does contain constant action and some fast-paced scenes, this is not what it is all about. It is more of a suspense of intrigue designed to get your curiosity going. Michael Crichton does a superb job of keeping us interested. By page 50, you will find yourself thinking, what is going to happen next?
Another great aspect about Sphere is the cast of characters. Norman is your average, down-to-earth, 50-year-old, who takes his job very seriously. He is balanced by Harry the mathematician who, just like Ian Malcolm, is the sarcastic type. Then there is Ted. The loud guy of the crew who really seems to be full of himself, but no one takes seriously. Also, you have Captain Barnes who is a very serious-minded military type.
On top of it all is the scenery. The entire book takes place in this cozy little building on the ocean floor. There is some rather fascinating description included.
It is a shame Michael Crichton does not stick to stories like this. I am not a huge supporter of his preachy or educational type novels. However, this is most certainly not one--rather it is an excellent story with compelling characters. With that being said, Norman is not very scientifically minded type person. so the other characters are constantly explaining things to him. It is a case of Norman = Us; Everyone Else = Crichton. It does not come off too redundant, so it is okay.
So, to sum up: Buy Sphere and read it now! what more needs to be said?