Review: “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

dark matter book cover from goodreads, background image from pawel czerwinski on unsplash
Original background cover photo credit: Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

I love Thursday nights.

Dark Matter, Chapter 1 opening

Author: Blake Crouch 
Publication Date:  July 26th 2016
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Science Fiction
Find it on: Goodreads

Synopsis

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

– – –

‘Are you happy in your life?’

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before the man he’s never met smiles down at him and says, ‘Welcome back.’

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream?

And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From Goodreads

Review

Book Content Warnings: postpartum depression

⚠️⚠️SPOILERS regarding one of the nemesis of the story⚠️⚠️

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is a mind-rending science fiction thriller centered on multiverse theory as applied to life on Earth. This unique read has been heralded as one of the brilliant scifi masterpieces of our time by Blake Crouch, author of equally popular Recursion. In Dark Matter, readers accompany main character Jason Dessen as he races against alternate instances of himself to recover the life he once took for granted. In the many worlds opened by the means of Dark Matter, dangerous characters lurk around every corner each more clever and more desperate than the next. And they all know what the next is likely thinking. They are the ultimate self-hunters. Time is short, resources are limited, and reality is what you make of it in this race-to-the-finish plot.

Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have, how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together

Dark Matter, p230

Jason is, of course, our main character here and star of the book. There are additional side characters – his wife, a female companion, and a son – but readers don’t spend much time focusing on them. In terms of page time Jason absorbs most of our attention. The others are used to complement Jason and drive the story forward but they could have been anyone; the personal details on those characters were mostly irrelevant. There’s some character development but overall this is a page-turning plot driven book.

It gets intentionally trippy with the multiple ‘Jasons’ that begin appearing but it’s usually clear which one is the original Jason we’ve been following. My only critique is that we don’t get to learn a lot about the ‘dark matter’ that unlocks the capabilities that power this whole story. Other than that the multiverse concept is interesting and there’s plenty of adrenaline-driven, blood-pumping action. There’s some suspense and build up to around two-thirds the way through when the story starts to pay off and the story gets quite good. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a fun science-fiction thriller read to pass the time!

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