Author: Blake Crouch
Page Count: 340
Publisher: Broadway Books
Original Publication Date: 2016
Genre(s): Science fiction, Thriller, Adult fiction
“What if our worldline is just one of an infinite number of wordlines, some only slightly altered from the life we know, others drastically different?
The Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics posits that all possible realities exist. That everything which has a probability of happening is happening. Everything that might have occurred in our past did occur, only in another universe.
What if that’s true?
Are you happy with your life?”
Jason Dessen may not have won the Pavia prize for achievements in physical science like his buddy Ryan did, but he’s got a good life—a happy marriage, a teenage son, a teaching job at a local university. Sure, he wonders what his life would have been like if, instead of settling down, he’d continued his work in quantum mechanics, but doesn’t everyone wonder what if? Then one night, he’s abducted, held at gunpoint, and drugged. When he wakes up, his world is not his own. In this new world, his wife is not his wife. Their child was never born. And here, he has won the Pavia prize, not Ryan. It’s everything 27-year-old Jason ever dreamed of. But it’s not what Jason wants anymore—he wants his other life back, and he’s willing to stop at nothing to take it back.
Dark Matter is equal parts sci-fi and thriller, a stunning combination that will keep you reading through the night. The novel is told is first-person POV and follows Jason into a world that is not his own. Confused, exhausted, and desperate, he must think like the scientist he is in order to not only stay alive, but to return to the world he once knew.
You may think you know where the story is headed, but Dark Matter makes sure to throw you for a loop. The story is never dull, not even in the beginning. It’s pretty much 100 MPH throughout all 300+ pages. It’s incredibly thrilling and will keep you guessing until the end.
Jason is an…interesting character. He’s obviously incredibly intelligent, fiercely loves his family, and ridiculously strong-willed. He’s certainly a sympathetic character, and there was nothing I particularly disliked about him.
I wish I could say more about Jason, the other characters, and the plot, but I think it’s best to go into this story with as little information as possible. That keeps the trill alive, and trust me, you want that element of surprise. The story could have gone a number of different ways, but I’m relatively happy with where it ended up. There are a couple questions I still have unanswered, but I think that’s the point…
As someone who persistently thinks what if?, this book really appealed to me. I find the Many-Worlds interpretation to be equally both terrifying and fascinating. Who doesn’t think about the choices they’ve made in life? Some believe in reincarnation, others in a form of Heaven. But some of us believe this is our one shot at life, and after that—nothing. So of course we’re going to fear the unknown, the unanswered questions, the unending what if‘s that plague our thoughts day and night. That makes us human. Even people who are happy with their lives wonder if they’ve made the right choices. Could I have been happier if…? So the Many-Worlds interpretation is interesting to think about. And horrifying, if you read Dark Matter.
(If you aren’t so much into thrillers, a great rom-com-type story about parallel universes is Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Definitely check that out!)