By Blake Crouch
(or 5 out of 5 stars)
With the recent announcement of a limited series coming to Apple TV+, there’s no better time to read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
Dark Matter is the story of Jason Dessen, an intensely devoted family man with a lackluster career. One day he's abducted by a mysterious stranger, and every assumption he'd had about his life is yanked away. He finds himself in a disorienting world both similar and different from his "real" life.
If that synopsis seems vague, that is by design. Like almost all of Crouch’s work, part of the joy in these books is unraveling the mystery with the protagonist.
Speaking of protagonists, Jason Dessen is a fully realized, entertaining, and empathetic leading character. When a book has as few characters as Dark Matter does, it is imperative that the players involved are compelling. Crouch takes great care with every character, making sure every single one - from Dessen, to his wife Daniela, to an inconsequential scientist - has a unique voice.
Dark Matter is listed as a “Science fiction thriller” and, make no mistake, it is definitely science fiction. However, the science of the plot is handled in such a way that makes even the most scientifically uninterested reader capable of comprehending. While those with a nerdier side can happily indulge in the more nuanced details of the plot (Dessen is a former quantum mechanics physicist, after all). But where this book really shines is the “thriller” aspect. After an initial period of world-building at the beginning of the book, the story takes off at a blistering pace, and does not slow down until the final pages.
Without revealing too much of the twisting, unexpected story, I will say this: Dark Matter toyed with the idea of the “multiverse” long before Spider-Man or Doctor Strange came along.
Ultimately, though, Dark Matter is a story about one thing. Beyond the masterful science fiction elements, the white-knuckle thriller aspects, the surprising moments of levity: this book is about family. About one man’s love for his wife and his child, and how he would go to the ends of the Earth(s) to be with them.
Blake Crouch is cementing himself as one of today’s best Science Fiction authors, and Dark Matter is a perfect showcase of his skill. I simply cannot recommend this book enough.