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Publisher's Summary

Deep in the African rain forest, near the legendary ruins of the Lost City of Zinj, an expedition of eight American geologists are mysteriously and brutally killed in a matter of minutes.

Ten thousand miles away, Karen Ross, the Congo Project Supervisor, watches a gruesome video transmission of the aftermath: a camp destroyed, tents crushed and torn, equipment scattered in the mud alongside dead bodies - all motionless except for one moving image - a grainy, dark, man-shaped blur.

In San Francisco, primatologist Peter Elliot works with Amy, a gorilla with an extraordinary vocabulary of 620 "signs," the most ever learned by a primate, and she likes to finger paint. But recently her behavior has been erratic and her drawings match, with stunning accuracy, the brittle pages of a Portuguese print dating back to 1642…a drawing of an ancient lost city. A new expedition - along with Amy - is sent into the Congo, where they enter a secret world, and the only way out may be through a horrifying death.....

Congo was adapted to the screen and directed by Frank Marshall.

©1980 CrichtonSun LLC (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Congo

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  • hgpilot - MM
  • 28-11-15

Fantastic - better the second time around

I originally read this 20 years ago and have recently started re-listening to Michael Crichton books this year. Congo is one of the best books, in my opinion, that Crichton ever wrote. Great character development, realistic mix of science / fantasy, and steady plot development.

56 people found this helpful

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  • Ree
  • 16-03-19

the best of Crichton with excellent narration

Popular opinion on Crichton's Congo has always been divided--some feel it's one of his better novels while many feel it's the opposite. I'm one of the former. I love this book. And while the Jurassic Park movies remain among my favorites, I didn't love the books nearly as much--they were good, interesting, but failed to sweep me away like Congo did and continues to do, and for that reason, I put it well above the Jurassic Park and Lost World novels. Amy, the gorilla, in particular is a gem. I always forget how much I love Crichton's sense of humor. Amy is marvelously rendered and a fabulous character. The other characters are well drawn and interesting--no one is one-dimensional, no one is perfect, everyone is interesting.
The narration is superb, and I need to spend a sentence or two on that because when I was trying to decide whether or not to buy the audible version, I very nearly didn't because of the many negative reviews of the narration. One in particular shreds her performance of Peter, saying he sounds like a sulky teenager. I honestly have no idea where they got that. Julia Whelan does a magnificent job with all elements, particularly the sciency bits where Crichton veers off into massive amounts of exposition/history/etc that no fiction author should be allowed to get away with and yet he DOES and somehow does it really well--Julia Whelan does a masterful job with those sections making them every bit as interesting to listen to as the action sequences. As if often the case with cross gender reading, Whelan does sound a little strained with the male characters. But I've heard far worse, and it's not distracting. And she's spot-on perfect with the overall narration, the female voices, and Amy.

This was an easy 5 stars and I will definitely be re-listening to it many times in the future.

41 people found this helpful

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  • Jake Campos
  • 19-10-15

Good not Great

Any additional comments?

I found this particular novel from Crichton to be less interesting that the others of his that I have read. The story itself was good, and it had his scientific details that really help to absorb the reader into a world where the events are actually taking place. But the story seems to be a ton of build up to about 50 pages (or about an hour) of rap-up. The story seems to focus most of its content on the preparation and trip to the Congo, and falls a little flat there. The technology discussed is particularly interesting to me, but I can see it further discouraging other readers. I would recommend it, and I will likely read/listen-to it again, but before you dive in, manage your expectations. This will likely not end up on your top 100.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Nathan
  • 11-10-15

Very good

I really liked the story. The narrator did a decent job, although it took some effort to get through the male voices. Definitely worth it, however.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Jonevan Brown
  • 25-08-17

Roller coaster

This book was incredibly fun to listen to, with some great narration to boot.

If you love Crichton, this is about as classic as it gets.

"Amy good gorilla."

19 people found this helpful

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  • Billy
  • 16-08-16

Iteresting read with great narration

Really liked the narrator, she was very even and did a good job of making the long explanations that while interesting, are not blended into the story line very well, more enjoyable to listen to.
Fascinating story that was very well researched of course which helps blend the science and fiction seamlessly.

18 people found this helpful

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  • J. R. Bradbury
  • 17-07-17

Not his best

This book spends way too much time on events leading up to the final conflict and technical jargon. I purchased it as a cheap buy to tide me over until next month's credit, but I struggled with wanting to finish it in many places. The narrator did a good job differentiating between different characters and it was entertaining, albeit frustratingly slow in places. I recommend his other novel, Prey, over this one, but it's not a terrible choice.

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  • Adam
  • 02-09-16

Good Story, Bad Performance

This is a typical Crichton novel, a nice mixture of adventure and science. Not one of his better works but still an enjoyable read. Unfortunately it is not a enjoyable listen. I found the narrators attempts at accents to be distracting and would have preferred if she didn't even attempt them.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Dawn
  • 19-10-15

Worth reading.

It was good just not great, I can't quite put my finger on it but it was missing something.

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 20-11-16

SLEEP WROTE

THAT'S A B8 PROBLEM
Written in 1980, Crichton was just getting his feet wet. This is a mass amount of facts and figures. While some of these tidbits of information are interesting, the book as a whole is lacking. No character development, with the exception of Amy the Gorilla. The story was not compelling. You want to skip this one.

49 people found this helpful

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  • Colin
  • 21-10-15

Better than Jurassic Park!

Don't be put off by the average at best 1995 movie, the book has plenty of story lines not included in the film, plus an excellent presentation. 5*

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  • Prester Jim
  • 18-07-21

Stop Eating My Sesame Cake!

Early '80s reboot of the Boy's Own adventure yarn from that giant of the Top Gear blockbuster, Michael Crichton, Here, competing consortiums race to secure a priceless source of blue diamonds in the steaming jungle heart of Africa. Mercenaries, cannibals and witch-doctors lurk behind every baobab tree. Amy the signing gorilla paints the fabled City of Zinj and struggles with heights. There is a volcano; it does erupt.
I have a genuine fondness for the dopey, good-natured film adaptation of this novel: an unabashed z-movie piece of nonsense that is elevated by one of the most moving scenes in cinematic history ("Stop. Eating. My Sesame. Kek!"). Sadly, neither Delroy Lindo nor Tim Curry's devious Romanian "philanthropist," Herkemer Homolka, feature in the actual novel and it is much the poorer for it.
In fact, for all the action-adventure tropes, 'Congo' is surprisingly dry. Crichton appears to have been a writer who did not believe in the footnote, instead padding out his word count with large, undigested tracts of research. At one point I suddenly realised that I had been listening to a potted history of the home computer for the previous 25 minutes! It made me genuinely angry. Despite this sort of thing, Crichton was an enormously successful novelist, so his brand of buccaneering didacticism must have resonated with a lot of people; to me, however, it just felt like there was a straight-ahead romp struggling to breath beneath the excess of man-facts (and, of course, there was: it was 'King Solomon's Mines').
Happily, Julia Whelan's narration is excellent throughout and kept me onboard with the signifying monkey, all the way to the rather perfunctory conclusion.

3 people found this helpful

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  • A. Dane
  • 27-10-20

Sci-fi greatness considering it's from 1980

I enjoyed this book, I have always loved Michael Crichton and this book is very much like his other novels.
As others mention there is A LOT of science and technological jargon in this book (too much perhaps?) but reading this in 2020, with the book being 40 years old, its staggering how much of the predictions in the book have come true and for that reason alone I also (mostly) enjoyed the science bits too, though the action and wildlife bits were by far my favorite part of the book.
I, however, did not enjoy the narration all the time, when she is narrating the storyline and the female character it's perfectly fine, but for some reason she gives all the male characters a drawling, stupid voice, almost like they are high or half asleep or just unintelligent, which doesn't match the storyline, and most male characters have same voice, which means I lost track of who was talking sometimes. ,
Overall good and I enjoyed it..

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  • Just
  • 23-01-21

Classic Crichton

A very good novel excellently read by Julia Whelan. Whilst this is certainly not among Crichton's best novel it is by no means the worst, and a must for Crichton's fans.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Swords and Spectres
  • 16-08-21

Great fun

Having worked my way, rather slowly, through Michael Crichton's works, Congo was one I've been eyeing up as a potential 'home run'. With that in mind, I put myself off reading it for a while and am wishing I'd gotten to it sooner. 

Congo is utterly charming as a novel. The level of connection the reader gets with Amy, the gorilla capable of speech (through American Sign Language), and the bond she shares with the human (Peter) responsible for her training is a wonderful one. Crichton does an excellent job of getting across just how intelligent not only Amy is, but how intelligent all apes are and can aspire to be.

The plot itself features a trek through the African Congo to discover the reason behind the brutal deaths of a previous research team for the first part, and for a yearning to get their hands on 'blue diamonds' for the most part. Aided by native guides and other experts in various fields, Amy and Peter are along for the ride and, as both Amy and Peter soon learn, it is not a ride they will enjoy. 

The novel is a good look into how an animal raised in captivity amongst humans and all of their modern conveniences we enjoy (tv, fast food, make-up etc ...) deals when it is led back into the wild. A wild with which it has next to no memory of. 

The storytelling is done at an excellent pace and the characters are built in such a way that they are all very believable and easy to assimilate into the story. Nobody feels forced or shoe-horned in and they all have their own little quirks that go the extra mile towards making them feel 'real'.

I can't comment on how the book lines up with the movie as, not being a huge film fan, I have never watched it. It's certainly one I would look to in the future as the book was enjoyable from start to finish and I can only hope the movie does it justice.

My only real negative about Congo is that Crichton has a habit of running off on lengthy anecdotal tangents that last so long that I often forget what part of the novel I'm up to. For instance, a character could make an off-hand comment about blue diamonds and Crichton takes that opportunity to impart every shred of knowledge he has managed to research on the subject. The information is always pretty cool and I love the stuff I learn from it, but it takes me away from the story for far too long and sometimes it feels a bit jarring rather than seamless.

On the whole, Congo was a wonderful novel and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. Sometimes a stand alone is just what you need in this world of ten-book series and Congo was a great palette cleanser.

Julia Whelan's narration is great and she brings each character to life in just the right way. It's always tricky when one narrator has to cater for both male and female characters, but she did this remarkably well. Top marks as far as narration is concerned.

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  • Ruthie
  • 27-07-21

Disappointing

There’s possibly a good story in there somewhere, but it gets totally bogged down in regular mind numbing passages about the technology the characters are using. This meant that for the first time I wished I was listening to an abridged version of a book. As for the characters, the only really likeable of the leads is Amy the gorilla & perhaps Peter, her human custodian. It’s therefore difficult to care if the humans make it through their perilous journey. There’s no sign that they ever learned from their selfish mistakes, grew in any war or showed any contrition for the devastation they (although mainly one character in particular) caused. The narration was acceptable, but only just acceptable. I made it through by increasing the speed. I certainly won’t listen to it again or read it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-07-21

A compelling adventure story

Surprisingly different to the 1995 film, Crichton's novel has a grounded sense of realism, danger and threat, largely absent from the film. Really enjoyed the narration.

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  • LyndsayA
  • 08-05-21

Fascinating

An intriguing exploration of human-animal relationships. Amy the Gorilla is complex, intelligent, and wonderful. Brilliant.

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  • AAkhtar
  • 27-10-20

not brilliant but okay

not the best I mean its quite dull in places and relates more to the safari (journey) then the mysterious destination zinch

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  • Joni J Mielke
  • 27-08-20

Interesting

Congo is a work of fiction but listening to it you would almost believe that it was based on fact. The characters, human and gorilla, were vivid in all their facets and were easily brought to life by the vocal talents of Julia Whelan, which I enjoyed more than the story itself in all honesty. A good book became an excellent audiobook on the strength of its narrator, and I would recommend it for that reason.

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  • Miyuru
  • 03-01-17

A little underwhelming

Really good story but I was underwhelmed by the ending - it had a lot of promise but left too many lose ends and questions unanswered

1 person found this helpful