Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


Jill's take on Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

We arrived a bit early to check in to our hotel on our first day to Taipei, so found ourselves at one of the largest bookstores in the city, part of the Eslite chain. At first, we were hard pressed to find any English books amongst all the thousands of books gracing the shelves. Then we learned English books are dispersed throughout all others, so we needed to do a bit of hunt and pecking. This was made easier by noticing that all English language books were wrapped in cellophane.

This discovery both angered us (environmentally speaking) and upset us because we thought we wouldn't be able to do our customary initial read of the book. Have no fear. The people at the service desk are more than happy to remove the cellophane wrapper and allow you to read the book. Grrr....more anger about environmental issues, but *sigh*, happiness that we can test drive the book.

All of this is to say that this is how we came to possess Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. There was a table full of books that were recommended and seemed to have a theme. Apparently that theme was sci-fi/armageddon/apocalypse/dystopia. And apparently, that is still where my heart and mind were residing. 

Dark Matter was such an engrossing read for me. I breezed through it in no time. I found myself thinking about it at random points in my day when I should have been thinking about how beautiful the mountains are, or how many stairs I'm climbing. But I couldn't shake it. The story is right up my alley - multiverse and multiple lives. I am a queen of FOMO and wishing I could experience everything. So this book posits that we can and we do, we just don't know about it. 

Dark Matter tells the story of Jason Dessen, a physicist, who decides to focus on family and allow his career to move to the back of his priorities. But, a different version of himself (one that did not make this same decision and focused on making huge scientific discoveries) decides that he wants to know what he missed by focusing on career instead of family. Multiverses are crossed and craziness ensues. 

Now, I know this is a leap. I know that it is just science fiction playing with the idea of multi-verse, but I really loved the story. The way Crouch writes the story is so compelling. You find yourself uncovering different worlds as Jason himself does. It's a great ride through considering what happens with each and every one of the thousands of decisions that we make. Some we make and never think about again. Others are frequently top of mind. But what if you could see what your life was like after you made one decision? What if you could know what the other path brought? I find myself thinking about this so often and I think that's why I enjoyed this book so much. 

The language of the book is easy. The characters well described. The scene well developed. I'm looking forward to Zac's take on the book since he doesn't share my fascination with the idea of multiple "me's". He doesn't take every decision as a life-changing one the way I do. I wonder if he'll enjoy it as much. I know I will be asking him "what's happening" each time he puts the book down so that we can discuss what's happening to these characters.  

Zac's take on Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

It's true. I was bombarded with questions about the book every time I put it down. I too found it hard to shake. I kept thinking about it all the time. I don't regret things. This is also true. But the idea itself is so pure that it's totally compelling. 

It reminded me a bit of that Gwyneth Paltrow movie from the 90's called Sliding Doors. You know the one. Where Gwyneth lives in this great apartment in New York, penthouse, walk in closet, more money than God (if God gave two shits about money) and the other version of her is a struggling artist or something. Although this is way better for so many reasons.

Do you ever stand in line at the grocery store and think to yourself - I bet if I had gotten in that line, I would have been ahead already. Or if there is an accident that just missed you, you trace back your moments to the point that diverted you those scant seconds that saved your life. It's a fun exercise, but it can drive you mad. 

Which is what happens in Dark Matter. There is one version of the characters where a professor lives happily with his wife and kid where he wonders what would have happened if he didn't marry her and just focused on his career as a scientist. Turns out there is another version of him who chose to focus only on his career and discovered a way to travel through parallel universes. He does this successfully but decides to plant himself in the happy family multi-verse. This complicates things as you may imagine.

It's trippy and devious and brilliant and should be made into a movie. I would happily watch it, but in the mean time I'll have to satisfy myself with trying to find another novel by Blake Crouch.