Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“If you strip away all the trappings of personality and lifestyle, what are the core components that make me me?”
~Blake Crouch, Dark Matter

Plot summary

“Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

Multiverse. Photo: cp_thornton (CC BY 2.0)
Multiverse. Photo: cp_thornton (CC BY 2.0)

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him ‘welcome back!’ Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And someone is hunting him.

Is the life Jason remembers just some crazed dream? And can he survive long enough to discover the answers he needs?” More on Goodreads

On Blake Crouch

“Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His international-bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy was adapted into a television series for FOX, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, that was Summer 2015’s #1 show.

He has written more than a dozen novels that have been translated into over thirty languages and his short fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Crouch lives in Colorado with his family.” More on Goodreads

Key concepts
  • Movie in a book format
  • Multiverse
  • Questioning one’s identity

I almost did not give this book a chance. I think the first quarter of the novel was rather tedious and boring, but the latter half improved a great deal. It is still not among my favorite and I hesitated about whether to review the novel or not. But here we are.

“Multiverse” by Leo Villareal. Photo: David (CC BY 2.0)

The plot in Dark Matter (2016) is very exciting, it takes one on a bumpy ride, and sooner or later it is hard to put the book down again. However, the movie-like concept of the plot is also slightly annoying. It is as if the author intentionally wrote it for a movie script. The novel is very adventurous and has characters and situations perfect for a film.

The concept on the identity is more interesting than the adventure parts of the story. The novel deals with the concept of one’s identity when faced with a multiverse. So, what does multiverse mean actually? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of multiverse is as follows: “a theoretical reality that includes a possibly infinite number of parallel universes“.

So, on the one hand, the story centers around a thriller-like reality for one man, but on the other hand, it is a manifestation of a very romantic man, desperate to get back to his wife and son. So there are some “awwwww, that is so sweet” moments, too 🙂

We’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.” ~Blake Crouch, Dark Matter

All in all, the novel is entertaining and poses relevant questions related to one’s identity, but I would not recommend it for the style of writing and language. The novel is enjoyable but it is not Proust if you get what I mean.

Identity. Photo: HypnoArt (CC0 Public Domain)
Identity. Photo: HypnoArt (CC0 Public Domain)
Other novels and stories by Crouch
  • Abandon (2009)
  • Snowbound (2010)
  • Run (2011)
  • Pines (2012)
  • Wayward (2013)
  • The Last Town (2014)
Identity. Photo: TheDigitalWay (CC0 Public Domain)
Identity. Photo: TheDigitalWay (CC0 Public Domain)

More information
– Lucy Feldman: How to Write a Thriller, published in the Wall Street Journal on 21 July 2016, link retrieved on 22 May 2017 (sign in required)
– Alison Flood: Dark Matter review – quantum fiction that’s delightfully unserious, published in the Guardian on 22 August 2016, link retrieved on 12 May 2017
– Andrew O’Hehir: A Countdown Thriller in Which the Hero Inhabits Many Alternate Universes, published in The New York Times on 27 July 2017, link retrieved on 12 May 2017
– Elise Hu interviewing Blake Crouch: What If You Hadn’t Gotten Married? ‘Dark Matter’ Imagines An Alternate Life, published in NPR on 24 July 2016, link retrieved on 22 May 2017
– Jason Sheehan: ‘Dark Matter’ Is A Jet-Propelled Science Thriller, published in NPR on 31 July 2016, link retrieved on 12 May 2017

“We’re all just wandering through the tundra of our existence, assigning value to worthlessness, when all that we love and hate, all we believe in and fight for and kill for and die for is as meaningless as images projected onto Plexiglass.”
~Blake Crouch, Dark Matter


Author: fictivestina

Hey, I'm a native Helsinkian but a cosmopolitan at heart :) Outdoors, reading, writing and cultural attractions are my passion. Hiking in Lapland cannot be competed with!

One thought on “Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch”

  1. I bought it on a whim thinking this might be something intricate, but the more reviews I read the more I think I’ll have save it for beach reading. The stupid the thing is I like Proustian quality for me beach reads too…


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