Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Waiting for my honorary degree in theoretical physics to arrive…

Because seriously, I kind of feel like I’ve earned it after reading this book. (And I mean that in the best possible way).

With this book, the fifth of his that I’ve read, Blake Crouch has officially made the list of my Top Ten Favorite Authors. I’m not certain which author he kicked off the list, but someone else has gotta go to make room for him. I got a little more than halfway through Dark Matter reading like a normal person, but then got to a point where I had to postpone/ignore everything else in my life to keep reading until the end. I HAD to know how what happened next and how Jason was going to extricate himself from the seemingly impossible situation he found himself in.

Shortly after I reached my “MUST KEEP READING” point, Dark Matter took a pretty sharp turn from the direction I was expecting (which of course made the “MUST KEEP READING” feeling that much stronger). I wasn’t expecting that particular twist in the story, even though my husband (who had already read the book) kept asking me if things had gotten “really weird” yet. (And I’m hard to surprise with plot twists even without forewarning.) I told him yes, and where I was in the book, and he told me “No, you’re not there yet. I mean where it gets REALLY weird.” And he was right. The book was “weird” right from the start. And then it got REALLY weird. (And when you think you’re at the really weird part, you’re probably wrong – it gets weirder. And then even weirder than that).

Again, that’s meant in the best possible way. Dark Matter is delightfully weird and mind-bending. And in a very strange way, it’s also a powerful love story. How far will one man go to save not just his own life, but that of his wife and child? To provide the best possible life and future for them and ensure their ongoing safety? Very far indeed, as it turns out – into places both light and very, very dark.

Dark Matter relies on concepts from theoretical physics for its plot structure, but you don’t have to understand (or even like) physics to enjoy the story. Some of the concepts and terminology are heavy on the science, but Blake Crouch does a great job of explaining them for the layperson (through the character of physicist/teacher Jason Dessen). You don’t need to have a deep understanding of what “placing a macroscopic object into a state of quantum superposition” means (I certainly don’t!) to follow the plot.

(Side note: Personally, I’m fascinated by theoretical physics and theories like string theory and M-theory. If you like the physics aspects of Dark Matter and want to learn more, I highly recommend looking into the nonfiction physics books by Dr. Michio Kaku – I read his Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel on a whim years ago and loved it, which is how my interest in theoretical physics began. Dr. Kaku is even mentioned in the closing acknowledgments of Dark Matter).

The twists and turns in Dark Matter took me to unexpected places and kept me guessing right up until the final pages. (People say that about books pretty frequently, but I really mean it this time!) In conclusion, I’ll leave you with a quote from the book that rather sums up the entire novel:

“A terrifying spin on the Prisoner’s Dilemma that asks, Is it possible to outthink yourself?”

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