Author: Blake Crouch
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Thriller
Format: Hardback (342 pages)
Publisher: Crown (July 2016)
My Goodreads rating: 4 stars (4.5 stars)
Book Depository: Dark Matter
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
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 the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of. (Goodreads)
It’s almost 3 in the morning and I’m on a roll with these reviews! I literally finished this book about ten minutes ago and have just settled down enough to write a review. Because boy, what a mindfuck this book was, in the best way possible.
I’m not shy when it comes to science fiction books, in fact I love them, but for some reason they rarely make it onto my ‘read’ pile. I’m not sure why, because I don’t actively avoid them. I love mind-bending space and/or science explorations, and this book really delivered. When physics professor Jason Dessen is abducted on his way home from a bar, his life is turned upside down. We’re left as in-the-dark as he is, as he struggles to understand why his life becomes altered in such a way that everything he knows and loves suddenly doesn’t belong to him. This book is marketed as a thriller, so it really surprised me how much physics and scientific explanations would impact the story, but I’m glad they did. I really love exploring the possibilities beyond our realm of understanding, even if the science lingo takes a few tries to wrap my head around.
Like I said, this book messes with your mind from the start. I was terrified for the first half of the book, as Jason’s life is drastically altered, especially as he meets a group of strangers who treat him like they know exactly who he is. As he runs around trying to piece together the missing memories and things that don’t add up, the book gets seriously exciting. I was on the edge of my seat (or bed, because I was lying there with my mouth hanging open) as Jason unravels the pieces, and realises that his role as a fantastic physicist plays a huge part in his predicament.
This book wasn’t just science fiction, though. It was also quite an eye-opening and poignant exploration of what it means to be human, living as a tiny speck in a universe more complex than we can ever hope to understand. It was really sobering too, as the meaning of relationships is explored, as well as the consequences of even the tiniest changes in the decisions we make everyday. So, we get a brilliant and thought-provoking exploration of physics as well a heartbreaking tale of love, loss and the limits of humankind all in one. I loved it.
The writing was good, but not great, and I did have some issues with pacing and paragraph structure, but that doesn’t mean the writing doesn’t flow. Crouch does a great job balancing the science bits with the overall plot. I do admit, certain bits took some time to wrap my head around, but I can’t really complain. There’s only so many ways to dumb down complex science in order to retain the essence of the theories while making it understandable to the general reader. So, a bit of a warning: prepare to have some science talk thrown your way. It’s mind-blowing, and important to the plot.
The characters are really well-written. I could really get behind Jason as a protagonist, and I’m glad. It;s kind of unfair, but I can’t help but to compare this book to The Martian; both deal with some interesting topics to do with survival and science, but Crouch manages to do what The Martian couldn’t- create a story and interesting characters around science, not rely on the science jargon so much that other aspects of storytelling suffer.
Finally, the last quarter of the book is some mind-blowing shit, let me tell you. I was actually terrified, just thinking about the possibilities and horrifying nature of that plot twist. Once you wrap your head around it, it makes sense- but in a frightening, “oh shit that stuff is deep” kind of way. And I loved every second of it.
So, if any of this sounds interesting to you, I would seriously recommend this book if you haven’t already read it. It has a perfect mix of mystery, plot twists, science, character development and fast-paced action, and in all honesty it makes you question the bigger picture. Just how much do we really not know about the universe we live in? And will we ever really know the possibilities?
All your life you’re told you’re unique. An individual. That no one on the planet is just like you.
It’s humanity’s anthem.
But that isn’t true for me anymore.
That’s it for this review! Thank you so much for reading, and if you have any thoughts on this book I’d love to hear them 🙂