Review: Blake Crouch’s DARK MATTER
The Need to Know: This book will unsettle and fascinate you.
Have you ever regretted something that you did or didn’t do? Wondered what might have been different about your life if you had pursued “the road not taken”? Questioned whether you made the right or wrong choices?
In Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, that basic notion of what if becomes terrifying.
Jason Dessen is a physics professor at a small college who once had the potential to make a big scientific discovery. But his girlfriend at the time, Daniela, became pregnant with their son, Charlie, and he walked away from his research to be a better father and partner. Now, an old friend of his, Ryan Holder, is the one making huge scientific breakthroughs.
Jason is happy. But he gave up a lot professionally to be where he is personally, and part of him wonders what if. In Jason’s words, his “life is great. It’s just not exceptional. And there was a time when it could have been.”
After randomly meeting up with Ryan at a bar, Jason is returning home when he’s kidnapped and taken to an abandoned factory. He’s told to change his clothes and he’s injected with something.
When Jason awakens, he’s greeted by a group of scientists who treat him like a returning hero. They tell him that he’s been missing for 14 months. Frightened, Jason escapes the laboratory and learns that Daniela is a famous artist who is not married to Jason Dessen, his son Charlie does not exist, and he has won the Pavia Prize for his research, not Ryan Holder.
Has Jason imagined his life with Daniela and Charlie? He knows that can’t be the case. Then who brought him here? What is “here” and how does he get back to his old life?
Crouch’s riveting plot relies on quantum physics. And now I’m going to quote a concept from the book, because there’s no way that I can adequately paraphrase it. “The Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum physics posits that all possible realities exist. That everything which has a probability of happening is happening. Everything that might have occurred in the past did occur, only in another universe.”
This theory has compelling implications for Jason in Dark Matter, who struggles to get home to his wife and child all the while knowing how difficult it will be to find his precise world. And oh yeah, that task is made even more difficult by others who have different agendas when it comes to Jason Dessen—who would do anything to keep him from finding his Daniela and Charlie.
Dark Matter is one of those weighty, bold books that should appeal to people like me—with very little background in physics (really, I can’t say that enough)—and to people of a scientific bent. Crouch makes us care about Jason and his dilemma, and then plays with our emotions through his skillful unwinding of the plot. This book is fast-paced and action-heavy, but the plot's implications for Jason—and possibly on us—will leave you thinking long after the last page.
If you’re looking for a different kind of thriller, check out Dark Matter.
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