When a book leaves you breathless, with your mind racing and your heart pounding, you know you have something truly special in your hands. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is precisely that kind of book, a wild and head-spinning ride that will leave you eager to discuss it with others. From the very first page, the story draws you in and never lets up, taking you on a journey through alternate dimensions and existential questions that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
The novel 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 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.
Being in my thirties and having struggled with career choices myself since graduating college, I found this book 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.”
The book’s pacing is another significant strength, and it is not a slow-burn plot for fans of that style. The story has an almost cinematic quality, propelling the reader forward with non-stop momentum and leaving them guessing at every turn. Page after page, the tension builds, and the story never lets up.
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. Nonetheless, I won’t divulge any specifics to prevent spoiling the plot.
From the very beginning, this book captivates your attention and never lets 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.