"If you strip away all the trappings of personality and lifestyle, what are the core components that make me me?"

Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller
Print length: 352 pages
Publication date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Rating: 5/5


You know a book is truly special when the urge to share it with others hits immediately upon finishing it. What a wild and head-spinning ride!

Dark Matter begins following the story of Jason Dessen, a physics professor living a relatively normal life in Chicago. He resides with his beloved wife, Daniela, and teenage son, Charlie, in a charming downtown brownstone. Despite leading a pleasant and straightforward existence, Jason feels that his career and life lack excitement. This feeling is amplified after reconnecting with his former college roommate, who has recently earned recognition for his work in quantum mechanics. Jason recognizes that he could have achieved the same feat had he not prioritized starting a family. After sharing a few drinks with his old friend, Jason finds himself at the mercy of a masked gunman. He is taken to an abandoned warehouse, drugged, and loses consciousness. Upon awakening, Jason is confronted with a drastically altered reality. His world is completely unrecognizable, and he is forced to contemplate how he will survive and return to the life and loved ones he cherishes. As the narrative unfolds from here, the complexity of the plot only intensifies, leaving the reader increasingly perplexed with each page turn.

Upon reading the first part of this book, I immediately got the impression that the plotline would be similar to the movie Total Recall. Fortunately, for the sake of originality, this story went in an entirely different and refreshing direction, which I found immensely satisfying. Being in my thirties and having struggled with career choices myself since graduating college, I found this book to be relatable on many levels. It poses relevant questions that we have all asked ourselves at some point in our lives: should I have made different life choices? Would those choices have brought more happiness? How successful could I have been if I focused more on my career than my family? Dark Matter deftly tackles and grapples with these questions from a unique and flawless perspective. Blake Crouch expertly explains complex concepts in a straightforward manner, making the book accessible to readers of all backgrounds.

“Imagine you’re a fish, swimming in a pond. You can move forward and back, side to side, but never up out of the water. If someone were standing beside the pond, watching you, you’d have no idea they were there. To you, that little pond is an entire universe. Now imagine that someone reaches down and lifts you out of the pond. You see that what you thought was the entire world is only a small pool. You see other ponds. Trees. The sky above. You realize you’re a part of a much larger and more mysterious reality than you had ever dreamed of.”

While Dark Matter is not without its flaws, they are few and far between. If I had to be critical, I would say that I wish one character had been given a more complete story arc. However, I won’t reveal any details to avoid spoilers.

From the very beginning, this book captivates your attention and never let’s go. Crouch’s deft storytelling keeps the pace brisk, and there is never a dull moment. This multidimensional tale blends several genres seamlessly, including science fiction, thriller, suspense, mystery and even romance. Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi or not, this book is highly recommended for anyone looking for an entertaining, thought-provoking, and unforgettable read. I highly recommend you give this one a try. 

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