Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Overview: Dark Matter captured and held my attention from the moment it jumped out at me in Barnes & Noble, through to the very last page on my iPad (books are an expensive hobby my friends, sometimes I attempt to be fiscally responsible by taking advantage of the iBooks/Nook discounts).
Our leading man, Jason Dessen, seems like a normal enough young lad for all of about ten pages. In that first chapter, we learn about his life: his wife & son, his job as a professor, and even catch a hint of regret and resentment still lingering from years past. Then, suddenly, a masked abductor knocks him unconscious and all of that is gone. When he awakens, he’s strapped to a gurney, and is surrounded by strangers in medical suits…
…except to them, Jason isn’t a stranger. He’s their friend.
Saying any more than that would spoil the book. What I will tell you is to be prepared for a mind-bending sci-fi thriller that makes you question just how ‘improbable’ and ‘far-off’ this future really is.
Thoughts: Like I said—I was interested in this book from the moment we locked eyes from across the room (though I didn’t down my drink as the rhythms boom) (yep, I did just make that reference). Though the recent trend within these genres has more along the lines of sci-fi OR thriller, Dark Matter is both, in the best way. My novel thoughts below:
1. It requires a bit of patience. I have taken the liberty of constructing a more accurate section title for chapters 1-5:
“A recollection of obviously crucial foreshadowing clues to future events impossible to predict at the present moment, leaving you with absolutely no chance at understanding their significance yet.”
Though the book is very quick to take off, it will be several chapters until you begin to fully understand what the hell is going on.
2. …but once you do finally know, you’re hooked. And I mean hooked.
3. It gets surprisingly metaphysical. As I just typed this, I stopped to look back at the summary on the back, and I guess it did allude to some physics topics. Nonetheless, as someone whose physics background is one solitary semester taught by a gravity-doubting hippie in my freshman year of HIGH SCHOOL, I had to do a bit of side-googling to fully understand the theories and concepts the novel incorporates.
4. My one caveat… The world that Jason wakes up in is the one he has always dreamed of: the future he had to throw away to have the life that he chose. This is a concept we all relate to at least in some small way… the what if’s? and if only I had known…’s. It’s true that we—myself included—have all convinced ourselves that “everything happens for a reason” or, my personal favorite, “everything works out in the end,” and I’m not saying those aren’t true, but I mean, come on. If you were given the chance to see what your life could have been if you hadn’t broken his heart… if you had pursued your dream of becoming a famous guitarist… if you didn’t lose that sixty bucks your grandparents gave you back in ’09…
…you wouldn’t be tempted to stay?
Jason doesn’t see it this way—not for a second, and that’s pretty unbelievable to me. In the first chapter, he’s daydreaming about the exact life he wakes up in, and you’re telling me that once he is living this dream, it doesn’t even cross his mind to try to explore and enjoy it?? I’m not doubting the incredible strength of love…I just wonder how many of us would truly and honestly show that level of conviction given those same circumstances.
Recommendation: Set aside a few hours for two or three consecutive nights and dive in. Dark Matter is a book that encourages—or rather, requires--you to use the full span of your imagination and truly contemplate what is, what isn’t, and what could be. Even the least imaginative reader will be forced to contemplate the different layers of reality, and how even the smallest decisions can completely and effectively alter the course we are on.
The beauty of this novel lies in the infinite doors of possibility; in this world it creates, not just anything is possible, but everything is possible—if not attainable.
PS: for those of you that have read the book, I have two questions I’d LOVE to get your thoughts on: