Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fiction Review: Dark Matter

I always give my husband a stack of books as gifts for any holiday (and he does the same for me) – the best gifts are the ones that I want to read, too! One of those was a birthday gift last fall, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Crouch is the author of the novels and screenplays that form the basis of two of our favorite TV shows: Wayward Pines and Good Behavior (review coming next week), so I was looking forward to reading this novel.

The premise behind Dark Matter is original and intriguing. College physics professor Jason Dessen is happy with his life. He enjoys his job and loves his wife and teen son. They have a nice home in Chicago and a happy family life together. Occasionally, he considers what his life might have been like had he taken another path – he was on his way to some ground-breaking research when his wife (then girlfriend) got pregnant – but he loves the life he has and wouldn’t trade his family for any amount of fame or accolades.

Then, one night after celebrating a big award with an old college friend who is living Jason’s road not taken, Jason is abducted and knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, he is still Jason Dessen…but a different Jason Dessen. Everyone around him seems to know him, though he doesn’t recognize any of them. This other Jason seems to be a renowned physicist who achieved a breakthrough no one thought possible, which might be exciting, except that this Jason doesn’t have a wife or son.

Terrified, confused, and determined, Jason sets off to find his family and get his old life back. It’s not a simple thing, though. The forces behind this sudden shift in his life are formidable, and finding his way back to the way things were might be impossible. Aching for his family, Jason won’t give up, though. I don’t want to spoil the book with any more details, but suffice it to say that what is going on here is riveting and fascinating and becomes ever more so as the story unfolds.

This book is so amazing that I just want to grab each of you by the shoulders and shout, “You have to read it!” The mystery behind what is going on in Jason’s life is mind-blowing and so compelling you won’t be able to set the book down. That’s a trite thing to say, but it is literally true in this case. My husband observed that I read this book in record time. It was an excellent pick for a week when I was sick and could just obsessively read for hours!

At its heart, this is science fiction, with a hefty dose of physics, but it is also filled with emotional depth. Jason’s quest to get back to his family and his old life brings up dozens of thought-provoking questions. What would your life be like if you had taken a different path? And perhaps most compellingly, what would you do to get your family back? My husband was thrilled that I had finally read this novel so that we could talk about it…and he is not someone who normally enjoys discussing books!

We both loved this completely unique, captivating novel. The characters are fully formed and feel real, in spite of the science fiction angle. The concepts introduced are mind-bendingly fascinating and also very thoughtful. Oh, and by the way, it is also an action-packed suspense novel. My husband and I both loved this sci fi thriller and can’t wait to read more from Blake Crouch. And – squeal! – Sony Pictures bought the movie rights to Dark Matter back in 2014, though there is no development news on the movie adaptation yet. Whenever it is developed, it should be brilliant, just like the book it is adapted from.

340 pages, Crown Publishing


  1. I'm so glad you liked this one too! I really enjoyed this read and could barely put it down. My head was spinning with all the possibilities. Such a fun book!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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    1. Yes, exactly! Definitely one to make your head spin. I love books like that.