I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Published by Crown on July 26 2016
Genres: Adult, Science fiction, Thriller
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The nitty-gritty: An addictive and thrilling story that melds physics, science fiction, and edge-of-your-seat action with an unexpectedly thoughtful meditation on the choices we make in life.
Most astrophysicists believe that the force holding stars and galaxies together—the thing that makes our whole universe work—comes from a theoretical substance we can’t measure or observe directly. Something they call dark matter.
I’ve had a review copy of Dark Matter on my Kindle for several months, and I was planning on getting around to reading it eventually, but then at Comic Con this past week I got lucky and was able to meet the author and snag a signed ARC of the book. While waiting in line for a panel to start, I started reading. And then I couldn’t stop. Dark Matter is everything I look for in a story but rarely find. It’s that rare story that grabs you from page one, and doesn’t let up until the end. And even better, it’s got lots of heart. The story is told from the point of view of Jason, our main character, and so the reader gets to follow him on his journey and experience everything he’s experiencing.
Because there are so many surprising and twisty elements in Dark Matter, I can’t tell you much about the story, because you’ll definitely want to experience this roller coaster ride for yourself! I will give you the basic premise, though. Jason Dessen teaches physics at a small local college and lives with his wife Daniela and their fifteen-year-old son Charlie. For the most part, Jason is very happy with his life, but after his friend Ryan wins a prestigious research award, Jason can’t help but feel some regrets at what his life could have been had he stayed on the research path. One night, after meeting Ryan for a congratulatory drink, Jason is attacked in a dark alley, beaten, and forced to remove all his clothing. His masked assailant drugs him, and Jason wakes up in a lab with strangers in white coats congratulating him for his amazing accomplishment. But Jason has no idea who these people are, much less who they think he is.
After narrowly escaping the lab, Jason sets out to find his family, only to realize that the wife and son he left behind are gone. With very little to go on, Jason is swept up in an ever-deepening mystery surrounding the impossible concept of superposition, as he searches desperately for the life that was taken away from him, the life he wants back.
For a book that was barely on my radar, Dark Matter has risen to the top of the pack as one of my favorite reads this year so far. Blake Crouch incorporates some fascinating science in his story, but I never felt like I was listening to a lecture. Yes, the science is there. Our MC is a talented physicist, after all, and we get to hear lots of Jason’s theories and ideas about what’s happening to him. But Crouch writes his story in such a way that science geeks are going to love the ideas in this book, while readers who want plenty of action and mystery are going to get it along with the science.
And get ready for one twisty tale! I was surprised over and over during the course of the story, and I can honestly say that I didn’t see most of the twists coming at all. Crouch’s pacing is spot on, and his use of short, punchy sentences really helped make this a page turner. I think one of my favorite story hooks is the protagonist who realizes his life is not the life he thought it was. There are so many ways this story could have gone, and believe me, I tried to make predictions as I was reading. But the author picked the absolute best possible outcomes, and I can’t imagine a better story.
One of the best things about Dark Matter is that it makes you think. I was blown away by the idea that every possible decision you can make branches off into different realities, and that there could be multiple versions of you living each of those decisions. Crouch explores the concept of choice and asks the question what if? What if I had taken a different job? What if I had met a different person? What if I had decided not to have the baby? Obviously the possibilities are endless, and where he could have simply explored Jason’s life and the choices he made, Crouch chose to reach further and show how the other lives in Jason’s close circle are affected.
Jason’s driving motivation, from the very beginning of the book until the end, is to find his family, and this simple idea creates a wonderful emotional connection to the characters. The story is fantastic without this element, but Crouch makes it brilliant by giving us a character who is so in love with his wife that he’ll do almost anything to get her back. Even a tempting female scientist, a woman named Amanda who joins Jason on his weird and wonderful journey, can’t turn him away from his goal of finding Daniela and Charlie. I hesitate to say this is a love story, for fear of turning readers off the book, but it really is. And Jason proves just how powerful love can be, but without the sickly sweet and melodramatic moments.
I’ve tried to be as vague as possible when it comes to the story, and I hope you take this as motivation to read the book yourself to find out just what the heck I’m talking about. I can’t recommend Dark Matter highly enough. If this book hasn’t already been optioned for film rights, I’d be very surprised. Go get a copy today. Please.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.