“Ex Libris: The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, 352 pages published by Crown.
“Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.
No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic. Not just what happens, but how it happens: a sucker punch that comes at you out of nowhere, when you’re least expecting it. No time to flinch or brace.”
“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.
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.
“The bare lightbulb in the ceiling rains down a naked and flickering illumination on the tiny cell. I’m strapped to a steel-frame bed, ankles and wrists chained together with restraints and connected, via locking carabiners, to eyebolts in the concrete wall.
Three locks retract in the door, but I’m too sedated to even startle.”
Fun facts: Blake Crouch’s novel Run was my first read after buying a Kindle and making the switch to (mostly) digital reading. The first read from an author not readily available at the local brick & mortar bookstore. He was also the first author I connected with on Facebook leading to his novel Pines being my first ever ARC. A year or so later Serial Killers Uncut, Crouch’s collection co-authored with Jack Kilborn, became my first (super rough) review for The Mouths Of Madness Podcast (rest easy dear friends). So I guess you could say that indirectly we go way back. I have since read quite a few of Crouch’s books and I’d consider myself a fan.
Enter Blake’s latest offering, Dark Matter. A highly publicized and heralded new novel that has been creating quite a buzz months before release. Deserved buzz, I’d say. Dark Matter is a solid and entertaining novel, leaning a little further away from terrain of the typical Blake Crouch dark fiction/ thriller yarn and more into the science fiction realm. It blurs the line between genres, which could polarize hardcore readers on either side of the genre pond.
The theory(s) behind quantum mechanics are simply fascinating, mind meltingly ridiculous in the best ways. An endless rabbit hole of ideals and possibilities. I’m sure purists are going to complain at Blake’s simplified (subjective) take on quantum mechanics and the ability to control it, but let’s face it, there’s isn’t enough paper in the world to cover every facet of QM, least of which the endless possibilities. I think Mr. Crouch does a great job in harnessing the vast amounts of hows and whys and honing it into a coherent, accessible narrative. I am simple man, and a simple reader, give me the gist, tell your tale, and let me ponder the rest.
The cast is fun, interesting. Fleshed out enough to garner a sense of depth although I didn’t really find a full on connection to any of the players involved. Which isn’t a deal breaker. Having the point of view be that of a man capable of so much knowledge before walking away for it was a nice spin. For how much intelligence and potential our Jason has/ had, it sure did take him a long time to catch on to who the culprit was! I kid, kind of. The payoff here is the jaunts through new worlds and a pretty entertaining last act.
Some points of view from other characters peppered in would have been nice and may have given the material a little more scope. I’d like to get inside more of the cast, especially the many variations of Daniela, Jason’s wife.
My only detractor really is the somewhat grounded conclusion, a sane solution to an insane problem. By this point I was wanting a ending that was a bit more fantastical to go along with the fantastical narrative. But I guess grounded can never be condemned. I also kept expecting Amanda (you’ll learn) to make an appearance in the final act, as a wild-card of sorts. I though that would have been a nice touch, as it is it feels a bit like a missed opportunity. All in all, small gripes.
Dark Matter is very entertaining, a quality read from a quality writer. It’ll more than likely hook you pretty quickly and hold your attention throughout. Perhaps it’s not the first Crouch book that I’d recommend, but it’s up there and definitely worthy of your time.
“’Who deserves them is the question, and there may be no answer. But if it comes down to you and me, I won’t let you stop me from being with Daniela and Charlie. I won’t like it, but I’ll kill you if it comes to that.'”
Overall score: 4.5 / 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher/ publicist on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.
Blake Crouch has sold over a million books and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Known for high-concept fiction with breakneck pacing and groundbreaking genre cross-breeding, six of his books have hit the Kindle Top 10, and two have reached the #1 spot. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, Cemetery Dance, and Thriller 2, edited by Clive Cussler.
In 2013, his novel Pines was nominated for ITW’s Best Paperback Original Thriller Award, and his Wayward Pines series has been made into a TV series which is currently airing on Fox International Channels, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard. He has been featured in Time Magazine, the L.A. Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Entertainment Weekly. Blake lives in Colorado.