This book was by far my favorite book I’ve read in 2017! I feel like after such a long year of reading books that were just shy of being great for me, Dark Matter came along and changed everything! It’s so twisty and psychological and exciting and intriguing. Holy crap I am so glad I got this recommendation. I apologize for the craziness here, but I just finished the book and I had to get some of that post novel-finishing excitement down before the afterglow wears off. As usual the following review will have a lot of spoilers.
Here’s a synopsis of the story: Our main character, Jason Dessen, lives a relatively happy life. He is married to the love of his life, Daniela, and they have a 15-year-old son together and live in a brownstone that they both love in Chicago. Jason gave up his career as a successful physicist when they had their son to become a college professor and Daniella gave up hers as an artist to be a stay-at-home mother to Charlie. They are both happy with their lives although Jason does have some feelings of regret about leaving behind his work and the funding for his big project in the field of physics. One night his friend Ryan, who has just won a prestigious award in the same field, invites Jason out for drinks at their favorite bar a few blocks from the brownstone and with Daniela’s persuading, decides to go. After an hour or so of listening to Ryan inflate his ego, Jason leaves feeling a little peeved that he could have been the one in Ryan’s place if he had just made different choices in his past. On his way home, he is kidnapped by a man in a mask, taken to an abandoned warehouse and held at gunpoint while he is shot up with a strange drug that causes him to blackout. He wakes up in a huge lab and is bombarded with scientists (one claiming to be his best friend but whom he has never met), students who idolize him and his “genius work”, and psychologists congratulating him on being the only man to return from “the box”. Jason quickly finds out that something here is not right. He soon realizes that this Chicago, this world is not his world. But here he is a celebrated physicist who not only succeeded with the project he had started before he had Charlie, but he exceeded all his hopes for the project. He is wealthy and practically famous. But where is Daniela? Did he have a son in this world? He must then discover what happened and how this is even possible as well as how he is going to get home. Does he even want to go home?
So I want to start off talking about our main character Jason. He is your typical family man. Loves his wife and son, he’s happy with his job as a college professor even though he was once a very promising scientist on the verge of making some big leaps in his field. He gave it up for his family and only occasionally has pangs of regret for what could have been. Pretty typical. But through the development of the story we see his love for his family grow more and more fierce. He will do whatever it takes to get back to them and is pushed to his breaking point physically, mentally, and emotionally so much in the novel, but doesn’t give up. He is a super relatable character and I found myself rooting for him. There were some humorous points as well and I think as a main character Jason was very well rounded and fleshed out. He was a flawed man and was very ready to admit that, which I liked as well. The supporting characters were great as well and I especially loved Amanda. She put everything on the line, her job, her life, her sanity to help this man because she felt it was the right thing to do. She was also a badass woman who made tough decisions when Jason was too weak to do so and I really like that their relationship remained mostly platonic instead of taking a very cliched route, which it totally could have. I loved seeing the different versions of Daniela in the different worlds and how she always found herself in her art. I really appreciated the chapter from her point of view after Jason2 had been living in the real Jason’s place for about a month. Because come on! How would you not notice all the little things after being married to your husband for 15 years? I mean I never expected her to figure out what was actually going on, but the fact that we got to see that she wasn’t oblivious to the changes was nice to see.
My favorite aspect of the story is definitely the plot and holy crap the pacing! I had such a hard time putting it down because there were so many twists that were totally unexpected. This is the first novel by Blake Crouch that I’ve read but I am definitely going to have to go back and read his Wayward Pines series. The writing in this was superb. There were some tricky parts of the story that could have been really confusing or hard to follow, like the description of how Jason2’s invention works and Schrodinger's Cat theory as well as what I am going to call the “Jason Convergence”, but the way Crouch tackled those parts was super easy to follow but also not dumbed down to the point of being boring or making the reader feel stupid. The story jumped around a few times to different perspectives like I mentioned above with Daniela’s POV and a few times we got the POV of Jason2 which helped with pacing and gave the story even more dimension (not that it needed any but still appreciated).
The questions the story makes the reader ask themselves are probably ones many of us have asked ourselves before, but the author makes us think of them in a whole new way. Dark Matter makes us appreciate what we have in this life, but also shows that it’s ok to mourn the other lives we could have lived if we had made different decisions. It makes you wonder, if you did have the chance to journey through the multiverse and change your fate (wow I just said that in my head as Merida from Brave….anyways…) would you really want to? I know if I was in that crazy ass hallway and saw some of the things Jason and Amanda do in this book, my answer would be “hell no!”
I am a huge fan of multiverse, elseworlds, and time travel stories and this is probably the best multiverse story I have ever read. The author covers all the bases, describes the mechanics of the world so thoughtfully, and gives us some awesome alternate realities to explore along the way. This is a definite 5 star book from me and I will be highly recommending it to everyone I know! I even recommended it to my husband why doesn’t read anything other than comic books.
I would love to hear your guys’ thoughts! Did you enjoy Dark Matter? Not your cup of tea? Why or why not? Maybe I am still just basking in the afterglow, did you have any problems with the story or see any plot holes I didn’t pick up on? I would love to hear if any of you have read anything by Blake Crouch. Are his other books worth a read? Share your thoughts in the comments.