- Published: 2016
- Number of pages: 343 pages
- Format: PDF
- File Size: 17.88 MB
- Authors: Blake Crouch
A mindbending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy.“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. Hiswife 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. Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.
Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:
⭐I think the title explains most of the gist of what I’ll be talking about here. The book is good, until the end, like a hollywood movie usually is. It’s filled with great science to mask the really strange plot devices and moments in the story that don’t quite make sense, as though the novel were missing a continuity editor (like a lot of major movies these days) More details will be explained below, but this book is Entertaining, but that doesn’t make it a good novel. There will be spoilers!I’ll start off by saying that the novel’s beginning is… Okay like the rest of it. We don’t spend much time getting to know the main character before he’s whisked off by a convenient plot device into the main conflict. For some people this will be welcome if you don’t have much patience (but if that’s the case, why are you reading a book in the first place?) For those of us that appreciate a little more exposition, it’s a bit jarring. But basically the main character, Jason Dessen, has a relationship with his wife of many years and their son Charlie that strikes him as a bit mundane. He is shocked by a random encounter (that happened to be on the same night—what a coincidence!) with his old college roommate who has gone on to be everything Jason never was but always wanted to be. He has earned a prestigious award that no one has heard of for making advancements in science that were made ages ago, but the book expects us to believe that this is some sort of noteworthy achievement. After being shocked into thinking everything about his life is awful because he might have been able to never have kids or settle down he is whisked off by a masked figure who we later learn is himself but from an alternate reality. He is violently forced, instead of convinced, to enter into the other Jason’s reality where in this future all of his dreams have come true! He never married, never had kids, and is able to create his life’s work—a quantum box that lets you switch worldlines and travel to different ones. These new realities are different versions of what happened based on a different set of choices that were made, but are somehow “adjacent” to the other ones. How these two things can somehow be true based on the numerous worlds visited makes a ton of sense if you don’t think about it.When faced with this new reality, Jason makes the only rational decision and escapes as fast as he can. He eventually tracks down the version of his wife from that world who coincidentally is sleeping with the roommate from before! Wow! They meet up and sleep together and eventually she is brutally murdered by the people he escaped from in order to bring her back in. Her death is a pill that is awfully tough to swallow as it came off completely needless. For one, obviously she had some sort of importance to Jason otherwise he wouldn’t have been hiding out with her, but somehow Velocity thinks that killing her is going to convince Jason to return? What kind of sick and twisted logic thinks that MURDER is the best way to snap someone out of amnesia or disorientation, or even make them want to return with you?Jason miraculously manages to keep his cool despite witnessing a murder in cold blood right in front of his eyes. Ryan, the roommate from before, spills the beans on what really happened (Jason confessed everything as a stoner joke but apparently he saw through it and decided to just tell Velocity everything) but honestly more convenient plot devices could not be found. Again, the lack of clear throught and silly logic appears to show this Author’s credentials as a screenwriter rather than a Novelist. Good stories do not have such a goofy structure and lack of exposition. Often they indulge in more subtleties that hint at the aspects of new characters and their internal workings rather than just spelling them out as this novel so frequently does. It reads like a movie, very episodic and direct.After the jig is up Jason manages to scramble into the box and leap off into the quantum corridor and tries his hand at finding new realities. For some very stupid reason after opening a door they manage to walk out into what is obviously a blizzard (we are told it’s early autumn before he leaves). While this isn’t impossible for a blizzard in autumn, dumping several feet of snow should be a dead giveaway that this is not in fact the world he came from. However, this genius scientist manages to get himself into a completely needless predicament along with his new sidekick, Amanda, the psychiatrist who couldn’t stomach murder (but somehow everyone else could) from Velocity labs. After their hiccup with the blizzard they return to the corridor and resume their adventures.This is the part where things stop making sense for me, as the group enter a few different doors that seem to make no sense. We later on learn that the corridor is controlled by one’s feelings right before opening a door. I.e. the blizzard world was triggered by Amanda conversing with Jason about a white out she remembered from her childhood. Now how a white out specifically, which seems like a thought to me (not a feeling) manages to create that kind of world seems a bit farfetched to me, but less so than the other examples. At one point Jason randomly throws open a door and they see a wolf standing on the other side of a chain link fence. How does one feel a wolf? What kind of memory could have evoked this? We are given no explanation for this particular world, nor some of the others that we are eventually made to witness and enter. Another example that we are made to believe is real is the “future Chicago” where the dynamic duo enters into a futuristic chicago because amanda writes it down in her notebook after they discover how it works. Now we are also told that the world lines have to be adjacent, meaning they can’t be too different from each other. Given this other rule, I’m not sure how it would be possible for them to enter a world that is obviously so radically different from the one they came from (whether it be Jason’s or Jason2’s world).Now what ends up being particularly frustrating about all of this is the painstaking research the author apparently has done into quantum mechanics and how they function. All of the phrasing he has on this subject is spot-on, including the message about schrodingers cat. The thing about quantum physics and physics in general is that they adhere to a set of rules that are constant across the universe. We call these the laws of physics. As the plot advances Jason resorts to cramming as many details into a notebook as he possibly can in order to return to his world. This ends up being one of the central conflicts to the novel—will he be able to get back to Daniela (wife) without exhausting his supply of Ampoules? However the process to get there does not appear to follow a constant set of rules, something Jason, who has a PhD in PHYSICS should be able to anticipate. Apparently these laws do not apply to the corridor and feelings reign supreme, where conversations can spark incredibly deadly blizzards but painstaking details do not lead to the desired results? Where wolves can randomly appear with seemingly no prompting, and other disease-ridden worlds can be triggered by memories of the death of a grandmother? Again, the laws of the universe are in fact consistent, but not apparently in this instance. The book seems to be at odds with itself over its very nature for the sake of being entertaining—just like a movie!The ending is probably one of the dumbest parts of the novel, and it’s where things truly break apart. After arriving home, Jason realizes he has no plan for confronting Jason2 and llaments this by heading to a hotel not far from his house in order to discover a plan. While there he is introduced to the upwards of 70 Jasons he had inadvertently created through his journey in the Corridor—all of whom made it back to where he is currently AT THE SAME TIME. What convenience! Where are all the Jasons from when Jason2 made the same attempt? Did he just get lucky and land there on his first try because he just knew how it worked? Did he somehow murder everyone else who came before him in order to secure the precious Daniela? It’s more likely the latter as Jason2 on several occasions implies that he has visited many other worlds in order to get here, and that this is the best one. But given the scale with which we later see the Jasons arriving, how did one man manage to kill 80 other versions of himself given the unique problems this presents?Eventually, the real Jason manages to get Daniela by being “unpredictable” as if 80 other versions of himself wouldn’t ever have the same idea, and whisks her away to Water tower place to explain everything then whisks her off again to Wisconsin where they break into a cabin and hole up there while they figure out what to do. The main plan ends up being a stupid lottery because Jason, after everything he’s seen, who has a PhD in PHYSICS and is clearly a SMART GUY manages to think that after everything he’s been through those other versions can be trusted to agree to a lottery and he is also willing to give up his wife to a random stranger. Cool man, this makes total sense! Daniela ends up saving the day here by convincing him that it’s a very stupid plan (which it is from the beginning but he for some reason needed her to tell him that). The whole thing is blown up horror-movie style with teenage stupidity when Jason’s son turns his phone on to text the girl he likes. This somehow tips off Jason2 who uses a locator app to track the son’s phone like every teenager’s worst helicopter parent nightmare. The cabin is swarmed with Jasons soon and the real Jason has to kill a few in order to save his family. They get back to Chicago for some reason where the other jasons had gathered for the lottery in the old factory where the box is. The ending is so shocking and so surprising that you will literally poop yourself with how unexpected it is. Are you ready? The family goes back into the box!Pop the confetti and break out the champagne! The ending you saw coming a mile away because it’s how every hollywood movie ends actually happened. It was such a disappointing moment for me that I really just wanted to toss my computer out a window because of how cheesy and stupid it was.Now for the best part, this book, is being made into a REAL movie by Sony! Isn’t that exciting? Honestly, I think they have a great chance here to make a movie that ends up being better than the book it came from—given how crappy their base is. Although since the whole thing read like it was made for the big screen, I’m honestly not even the tiniest bit surprised.Thanks for reading my review, I hope it helps you make a decision. I gave it 2 stars because the book was enjoyable but overall it made very little sense and the ending absolutely sucked—just like a movie!
⭐”It’s terrifying when you consider that every thought we have, every choice we could possibly make, branches into a new world.”Have you ever in your life, felt like you’ve entered an alternate reality? Well, I know I have. 2017 was a difficult year for me. I suddenly lost 40 lbs within a matter of months. My grandmother, one of the closest people to me, passed. I was laid off from my job of 14 years. My best-friend, suddenly walks out of my life. Not only had my appearance changed, but inwardly, I had changed. I began reading more, my eating habits were different, I no longer liked certain foods, but found a new appreciation for others. The majority of this, happening within March of 2017. As I stood in front of the mirror, looking back at myself, I wondered, is this really me? What happened? How did it all change so fast?”This is not my world”During it all, the only constant was my husband. Which, for me is why this novel resonated so deeply.Jason Dessen, an educated man, gives up his dreams of achieving the Pavia Prize to start a family with the woman he loves. He’s now a professor, a husband, a father, a simple man, living a simple life. One evening he hits the local bar not far from home to meet up with an old friend, Ryan Holder. He can’t help but feel a bit of jealously in the face of this man, his old college buddy, for he has achieved his dreams, he has received the honor of the Pavia Prize. It’s not long before Jason decides he’s had enough and sets off for home, stopping along the way to pick up some ice cream for Daniella and Charlie at the local market for dessert. As he makes his way home admiring the beautiful autumn evening, feeling somewhat nostalgic, he is suddenly overcome with terror. There’s a gun pointed in his face.Jason has been kidnapped by a masked man. All he can think about is his wife, Daniella, and their son, Charlie. He needs to let them know what is happening. No sooner than he tries to send Daniella a message, the masked man discovers Jason’s efforts. Jason is instructed to drive to an abandoned warehouse, then instructed to take off his clothes and change into new ones. Jason has been injected with something as he waits for the effects of the drug to take hold the masked man forces him to consider his life choices.”Are you happy in your life?””My life is great. It’s just not exceptional. And there was a time when it could have been.”Jason has been stripped of his clothing, his keys, wallet, and his dignity. The masked man has forced him to reflect on his life, so he continues to feel an overwhelming sense of loss. Little does Jason know however, that he has so much more left to lose.As Jason awakes, although everyone around him appears to know him, he does not know these people. He can’t help but feel like Alice who has tumbled down the rabbit hole. What is going on? Who are these people? Why are they asking me these questions? Where am I? Jason begins to realize that this is not his world. In this life, he has no Daniella, no Charlie, but he has his beloved Pavia Prize, his achievements, but which is greater? Jason quickly realizes that a life without Daniella and Charlie is no life at all.This is a one heck of a novel, and I loved every word of it! We are taken on such a ride with Jason as he attempts to make it back to Daniella and Charlie, to his world, to the one constant in his life. Daniella becomes Jason’s beacon, a guiding light, driving him home. He must focus his emotions if he ever plans on returning to her, which given the circumstances is no easy task. The concept of this novel, while not entirely original (because let’s face it, there are several novels containing alternate realities) has an originality all of it’s own. I have never read a novel so complex in the making where I’ve had to stop and wonder if the author himself stepped into an alternate reality to create it.I can’t say enough about this novel, I only wish that I had written my review sooner… while everything was still fresh in my mind and my thoughts were whirling. Sadly life has a way of getting in the way. Have no doubt though, this is one novel, that will stay with me.”The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”
⭐I could not put this book down. It jumps right into it, there’s no lag or drawn out boring beginning. So many twists, I think it’s my new favorite book
⭐It’s alright, but certainly not, “The Most Mind-Blowing And Twisted Thriller Of The Year!” In fact, just a few months after reading it, I’d forgotten I’d read it when I saw it again on Amazon. A number of reviews also discuss how this book is an amazing discourse on advanced physics… spoiler… it’s not. Having said all this, it’s a perfectly enjoyable action book with a thin veneer of sci-fi, just don’t believe the hyperbole.
⭐I’d had this book on my Kindle for a while but had never got round to reading it but it was brought to my attention again after seeing it on a top 50 sci-fi list. I’d never read a book by Blake Crouch before, so I had no real expectations.It’s hard to explain what the storyline is without giving away any spoilers but we follow Jason, a fairly normal guy with a wife and 14-year-old son as he goes from having a quiet family night at home to being abducted at gunpoint, stripped naked and taken to an abandoned warehouse. From there, Jason embarks on a strange journey to try and find his way back home and to his loved ones.Although the actual storyline is pretty complex and various scientific theories are explored, they are presented in a comprehensive manner that makes them accessible to all readers. We learn about alternative universes, alternatives realities, a better or worse or completely different version of yourself and it calls into question all the choices that make you ‘you’.It did take me until nearly half-way through this book to really get into it but once I was in, I was hooked. Dark Matter really starts the action early on and the pace never really slows. Jason is the main character but we meet various other characters along his journey. As others have mentioned, the writing is stilted and can be difficult to get into a flow but I found myself getting used to it fairly quickly.I enjoyed this book, although it felt very familiar to me at times…I am not sure if it is similar to something else I have read maybe. I would recommend this if you are a sci-fi fan and it’s an exciting and quick read.
⭐Jason Dessen has given up a promising future as a top research physicist in favour of a quiet life as a college lecturer with his loving family. Does he regret that choice? Not really but sometimes it does haunt him a little. It’s only when it’s all abruptly taken away that he really realises how important that life and family is to him. Stepping out of the family home to join an old colleague for a quick drink he is abducted and eventually finds himself in a world he cannot understand where he has not only lost his loving family but has never even been married.I really wanted to like this book and, to be fair, some of the time I did but at its core is the idea of infinite universes where anything that could happen, anything that had even the slightest probability of happening, has happened. In the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment both outcomes are true; the universe forks into two universes, in one the cat lives in the other it dies. Now this kind of multiverse theory has always struck me as utterly improbable because if it can happen at major decision points then it will happen at every possible junction; will this atom combine chemically with that one? Possibly yes possibly no. And two more universes are created. If this happens at all then it must happen trillions of times every nanosecond in every universe. There must be a virtually infinite number of universes out there that have been branching ever since the big bang. Now for the sake of the story I might have been able to suspend my level of disbelief sufficiently to ignore this inconvenient infinite creation of matter from nothing had it not been for one ham-fisted attempt at an explanation offered in the book that maybe this could account for the missing matter in our universe – dark matter – except that we’re only missing around 80% of the necessary matter and an infinite number of universes is going to provide rather more than that.So right from the beginning I was struggling with the basic foundation of the story. But again I could have lived with this but the story just didn’t grip me and this is the one bit of surprise inspired by Dark Matter. All the reviews I have read are filled with words like mind-bending, exciting, gripping, compelling, suspenseful etc. etc. and yet I found the whole thing utterly predictable; every – and I mean every single one – every reveal and twist and turn was, to me, so obviously inevitable that I was never once surprised and I’m generally not that good at spotting plot twists before they happen. [spoiler] One of the biggest intended (I’m sure) OMG moments comes towards the end when multiple Jasons all suddenly appear at the same time, the only surprise to me was that there weren’t more; there should have been millions or even billions of them, how many universe branches must have occurred in the couple of months that the book spans?[/spoiler].Dark Matter does explore some interesting ideas about identity and relationships but it was so lacking in anything that felt like novelty to me that I was largely bored by the book. Rather surprising in that almost everyone else praises it for being the exact opposite, so maybe it’s just me.
⭐Not usually a fan of first person books, but it really was the only way to present this book, so don’t let the perspective put you off.For the most part the descriptions of the environments are brief, thumb nail sketches, with lots of short one sentence paragraphs. A nice couple of surprises and cliff hangers, so all in all the pace keeps zipping along.The two main characters are well drawn, some of the others less so.The science elements support the story rather than dominating it, but if you’ve never heard of Schrödinger’s cat or The Copenhagen interpretation it might seem confusing.The ending felt a bit hurried and understated, and there were a few questions left unanswered, but maybe they’ll get answered in the upcoming Apple TV+ series of the book.
⭐I am usually not one fast paced thrillers as I often find they follow a similar ‘formula’ to get from A to B, and a few weeks after finishing it, I can hardly differentiate it from all the others. Dark Matter is definitely not formulaic. I only bought it because I wanted something easy to read whilst on holidays. A week before I headed away I decided to get a start on it and I ended up finishing the book in a couple of days. It was smart, original and very engrossing. Even better, I feel like I have learned something after finishing it. I have seen the book being compared to The Martian, and having seen the film, I can understand why. Crouch explains extremely complex ideas on quantum mechanics and other aspects of the laws of physics in a way that just flows off the page. Only once did I have to reread a paragraph to ensure I understood what was going on (but that had as much to do with fast pace of the book as with its complexity). Indeed, many of the concepts that Crouch brings up stayed with me long after finishing. It comes with many twists and turns but never falls into farce. A great, thought-provoking read that has renewed my enthusiasm for the thriller genre.
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