Dark Matter - Blake Crouch

Genre: Thriller/Sci-fi
Synopsis: “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.


Review: Okay so I read and enjoyed (to an extent) the first two (or one and a half?) Wayward Pines books before wandering off due to indifference. The ideas were fun but the writing wasn't great. Quick, easy reading, nothing spectacular. So, my expectations for Dark Matter weren't exactly high. Definitely a good thing. This book is basically Sliders, but with the potential for serious exploration of identity (which never really happens).

So, I started reading this during a general lull in my reading - I think it took me about a week to read the first third and then I finished it in the last couple of days. It didn't pull me in at the beginning. The characters are thin, and remain so throughout. It's fast-paced, but there's no substance, another trait that carries throughout. The book started off at about 2 stars for me, worked its way up to 3 stars and almost hit 4 stars, but ultimately it just read too much like an in-depth draft of what could have been a spectacular novel in the right hands.

It's not really sci-fi - early on it references a few well-known theories and concepts, like Schrodinger's Cat and the many-worlds interpretation. These turn up time and time again in books and films to varying degrees - so the minimal explanations in this book are all that are needed to set up the adventure about to happen. After that, it's basically all thriller. I don't know about anyone else, but I never felt any real threat throughout this book. Everything happened too quickly for me to really get invested in any of the negative possibilities before some new positive possibility opened itself up. There was one 'twist' towards the end which I didn't see coming, though logically I should have, and it could have resulted in some awesome philosophical discussions, but they just weren't there. Like I said, reads like a draft, or a short story for students to ponder the implications of. It's all action and no intellect. That might have been okay, if I could have given a crap about the characters. I mean, it's not all doom and gloom. The book can broadly be divided into three parts, and the second and third parts were compelling if not well-done. I did, overall, enjoy reading the book. It just simply wasn't substantial enough for me.

It's a shame, because this is an adventure I could have read 600 pages of, had it been written with more detail, intellect and skill. I would actually recommend, for an adventure of substance not too far removed from this - The Man From Primrose Lane, which has just gone up even further in my estimation by comparison.

Rating: 3/5 

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