Book Nook: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
“Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have, how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together.” -Black Crouch, Dark Matter
If you had the opportunity to go back in time and make a difference choice in your life would you? Even if it meant you might lose everything important to you? Dark Matter is like a love letter to the life you’re living now. It makes you see the world around you a little more vividly and be more appreciative of the people in your life that you take for granted.
The Jason Dessen that we know is a deeply intelligent man who teaches undergrad physics and a family man with a wife and teenage son. He often thinks about what could have been. He wonders if when, his amazing girlfriend at the time, Daniella, told him that she was pregnant they had decided not to get married and to have the child where he would be now. When Daniella got pregnant he had been working on a huge scientific project that was extremely promising and would reap in money and grants, but once Charlie, his son, was born Jason started spending less and less time in the laboratory and more and more time with his family. His drive to spend 80 hours a week researching was gone and before he knew it his promising career as a scientist had dwindled to that of a teacher.
While he loves his life, from time to time he wonders what life would have been like if he and Daniella had chosen not to have Charlie and focused on their careers instead. Then he would be the one winning huge awards and not Ryan Holder who he had always been light years ahead of. Maybe Daniella would be the famous artist she had always striven to be before giving birth and starting a family instead of teaching art and selling a few paintings here and there on her small website.
He wonders about different choices he could have made and regrets certain things which I think everyone can relate to. So even though this book is definitely in the vein of fringe science, the main character himself and his plight is not outlandish, which makes this book all the more entertaining. Meanwhile, in another timeline, another Jason Dessen has done just that. He didn’t stay with Daniella and instead put all of his heart and soul into his work, but, just like the other Jason, he wonders what life would be like if he had the love of his life and a family instead of working day and night. Unlike our Jason, he’s willing to take action to get the life he wants no matter the consequences.
Dark Matter has been on my Need to Read list for what seems like forever so when I was looking through titles for my next book and it popped up I knew now was the time! It took awhile for the book to gain my interest and become something else besides just another book about timelines, but once it did it really had me questioning “what the hell is he going to do now?”.
I give Dark Matter a C+ because while I love that the driving force behind Jason’s decisions are relatable, the book doesn’t become anything remarkable until after the first half of the book and for me that’s just too late for the real action to start. I loved how he took the time to explain the basics of quantum mechanics without making it seem rote or overly complicated. I also greatly enjoyed that the book is thought-provoking. The decisions that Jason has to make as the book unfolds will have you asking yourself what on earth you would do in his position and how far you would go to protect those that you love. Crouch just seemed to play it safe as I wouldn’t consider the book dark and violent or light and funny. It seemed to purposely run the middle which is fine and dandy, but just not my cup of tea. Jason was also just a bit too perfect and I like my characters to come in shades of gray otherwise they aren’t very relatable. This is the first book I’ve ever read where I thought to myself that I’d much rather be watching this as a movie.
So is Dark Matter worth a read? Definitely, and especially if you like science fiction that leans more towards fringe science, but there’s definitely books I’d read before picking this one up. While the plot is interesting and attention grabbing the execution of it leaves a lot to be desired and the author’s plain writing and lack of character development failed to really immerse me in Jason’s world.