By: Blake Crouch
Release Date: July 26, 2016
I have some rather conflicting emotions about Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. It’s at once brilliant, and utterly frustrating. The book does a lot of things very well. The plot is intriguing. Jason, the main character and narrator, is very relatable – loves his family, decent job, not terribly wealthy. The action starts abruptly, taking both Jason and the reader by surprise and doesn’t let go until … well, maybe not the very end. But it remains very edge of your seat nearly all the way through.
I really enjoyed the premise. After being kidnapped at gunpoint Jason wakes up in a world that’s all wrong. He’s doing scientific research instead of teaching. He isn’t married to his wife. His son was never born. Unsure which world is real, and which is a dream, Jason must fight a seemingly invincible enemy to find his family and return home. However, as much as I enjoyed the plot, I must admit it’s not entirely original. I have seen this idea, or ones very similar to it, played out before in novels, movies, and televisions shows before. But you know what? It’s still fun. I still like it. I love a good thriller, and I’m a sucker for anything that even slightly smells of multiverse theory.
There is one thing I had a fairly major problem with. I just do not like Blake Crouch’s writing style.
It’s sort of.
Now, let me explain a little here. I read a lot of James Patterson, and other thriller writers. I’m used to the short paragraphs, a lot of dialogue, and tiny, one paragraph sentences. They drive the action, and make everything feel more exciting. Here, it just doesn’t work. It isn’t quite stream of consciousness, because, while in written in first person point of view, Jason stops to give us more detailed paragraphs of his thoughts and descriptions of the world. Then this stops, sometimes very abruptly, and continues on for pages on end in choppy, incomplete thoughts. Even more frustratingly, the chapters were structured like those in any regular speculative fiction novel – rather long with no end in sight – and didn’t follow the typical thriller structure, breaking the novel into short scene-like chapters to engage in that feeling of constant action and danger. It was just…odd. When longer paragraphs did show up again I had to stop abruptly, my entire focus completely thrown off.
I also feel like the ending dragged on just a little too long. There was just a little bit too much searching for Jason’s family and not finding them (vague, I know, but I don’t want to give too much away. And don’t worry, it will become very obvious what I’m referring to when you get there, whether you agree with the assessment or not).
I didn’t quite agree with some of Jason’s choices either, but they were all very human, made in the spur of the moment when he was confused, scared, and only wanted everything to go back to normal. Jason was incredibly human, and, even if I disagreed with him at times, a completely believable character.
Despite having some issues with the novel, I’ve rated it a solid four stars. Dark Matter should absolutely be given a read. If you enjoy thrillers, science fiction, and some good ol’ multiverse theory, give this one a try.
you’re on team multi-verse theory, are looking for a solid thriller to read, you like fast paced science fiction
Don't Read If:
you dislike choppy sentence structure, multiverse theory makes your head spin, you don’t like thrillers