& Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Publisher: Crown July 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Publisher: Crown July 2016

The Book Itself: It’s decent, for being just text. The color and bold type make it striking on the shelf, but I can’t help but wish it had something more.

My Review: “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.

My goodness, no one can review this book because to review it is to spoil it! So what can I tell you that dozens of other vague-on-purpose reviews have not?

Here’s the gist of it again: Jason Dessen has a nice, if safe life. He loves his wife and son very much, he is a respected teacher at a university, and he only sometimes pines after the life of scientific breakthrough and fame he almost had. Cue to the first night that our story begins: after having a drink with an old colleague, Jason gets kidnapped and drugged into oblivion. When he wakes up, he is the winner of the science award. He stuck with science instead of stopping his research and becoming a family man. He is placed in the life he thought he would once have, and in the true spirit of you-don’t-know-what-you-have-until-it’s-gone, all he then wants to do is get back to his wife and son.

And events unfold from there. From the description alone, I had an idea of why he woke up where he woke up. Why he was what he was. Hint/spoiler (?): it has to do with what he accomplishes in science if he had continued his research. But maybe that’s because I read a bunch of sci-fi (even though this is classified as fiction) and I’m a nerd like that.

This book is a fast read. I zoomed through it only partly because it was intriguing and the mystery kept me going as I rooted for Jason to get back to his family. But I gobbled it up in a day or two mostly because it’s written in such a snappy, short-sentence matter. It felt like I was reading a screenplay, or the summary of a long movie at some points. There are no long, descriptive paragraphs. No contemplative, interior moments for Jason. It’s not the writing style that I am used to, and sometimes I struggled with it. I wanted there to be more. The ending is so dang good that I wanted the rest of the book and the story to linger a while, to give me a little more than stage directions.

But I think that quick, no-nonsense style will appeal to some readers. It’s definitely a thriller, one that tries to turn you one way but really goes another. There are chase scenes, shoot-outs, layered mysteries, and a staggering amount of “bad guys.”

And the ending. Holy guacamole. The clipped writing style really lent itself to the twisting turns that was this novel’s ending. So many things happen in quick succession. Just when one plan is set in place, someone or something comes along to de-rail it. I would say if you can handle a book more focused on action and don’t mind your sentences short and to-the-point, this ending makes it all worth it. And it you’re already a fan of fast thrillers, you’ll like this one too.

My Grade: B

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