Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre/Themes: Science Fiction, Drama, Multiverses
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
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.
I mean it was alright but it was basically a draft version of ‘Recursion‘ which I read prior to this.
Crouch has definite stylistic patterns with his writing that I found incredibly boring to read about second time around.
His characters are painfully underdeveloped and are basically pastiches rather than authentic.
The science is redundant and the reader is treated like an utter tool with the amount of mansplaining that goes on.
The melodrama is ratcheted up to the hilt and basically it feels like a rehash of science shows like Quantum Leap, Sliders and a bucket load of other shows and books I’ve read and watched i.e. unoriginal.
Overall I am giving this two stars.
Spoilery thoughts below this:
That ending was far too neat and tidy for me.
Like what a cop out. Oh we simply can’t exist in our version of the multiverse so let’s find another one…
Okay. So let’s think about the consequences of that.
Will there be another version of each of the three characters there (Jason, wife Daniela, son whose name I have forgotten)? How do they disappear into society? Or create new lives etc. etc…
Look I’m all for open ended endings that raise multiple possibilities but this isn’t open ended in a good way. It’s open ended in a way that cheats the reader out of a theory to solve the problem of the Jasons co-existing within the singular multiverse. It’s a cop out if you ask me because Crouch couldn’t find a way to solve the problem of superposition. If you’re going to actualise a thought experiment in a book then you need to actually have thought about the resolution rather than just having your characters constantly be on the run but oh they’re happy because they’re together…
This basically is the same ending used in a bunch of sci fi shows I watched in my younger years and the multiverse theory is such an overused theory in SciFi that I’m just bored by it.
I find it incredibly irritating that the main female characters in this story (Daniela and Amanda) are merely used as supports for Jason’s character. Jason’s needs. They don’t exist at all in the storyline without him which further illustrates how negligent Crouch is when it comes to developing his characters. This is 100% plot over character and it’s not even that original a plot…
The whole conversation with Jason and his wife Daniela where she’s discussing having sex with Jason(2) and original Jason is jealous???? Screw you, you tosser!!!!!! She was manipulated and conned into sex with someone she thought was her husband. Like where’s the consent in that and you dare to be pissed off and try to have a go at her.
And it’s entirely hypocritical when he slept with the Daniela [aka Daniela(2)] from Jason(2)’s world when he knew she wasn’t his wife… That whole exchange was weird and uncomfortable I thought.
So if Jason and Daniela’s story is romantic then please sign me up for a lifetime of singledom because I want no part of that type of relationship. I did not like how he spoke to her or about her at all and thought him much too controlling.
AND OMG WHAT EVEN WAS THE POINT OF AMANDA??? God her underdevelopment as a character was the worst. Made me want to slap Crouch for just using her as this token subservient female. She had zero self-motivation, pretty much just threw herself on a knife for Jason and then BOOM she’s dumped from the book never to be mentioned again… SUPER INFURIATING!!!!!!!!
Also, I would like to ask why were all the other versions of Jason such horrible people who acted so awfully?
Okay. We can accept that between original MC Jason and Jason(2) that there is a difference of 15 years of life experience and there is very much a case for nurture to win out over nature in this instance and alter Jason2’s personality due to his external environmental/life stresses (hello epigenetics).
All these multitudes of Jason that arose purely when/after he and Amanda entered the superposition box…
Why is original Jason the only seemingly decent one of them?
Like some of these Jasons are only going to have minutely different life experiences and one could argue that due to the short amount of time elapsed that they couldn’t have been made *bad* based on one singular different experience???
However, instead we have all these Jason characters acting like murderous douchebags and all willing to murder and kill so they could be with their wife and child. Yet this would mean that they’re willing to put their wife and child in peril because of the big standoff between Jasons???
I fail to see why there isn’t a single magnanimous Jason character among all these versions?
Unless Crouch wants us all to believe (like I do) that Jason, no matter what multiverse he’s from, is a bit of a controlling douchebag who always thinks he knows best…
Just doesn’t make sense to me why you wouldn’t want to create a couple of nice versions to juxtapose the light and dark variants of ourselves based on our personal experiences.
I think what it does show is how careless Crouch was when it came to creating the personalities of the infinite Jasons?? He was too lazy a writer to bother properly developing clearly varied personalities for the Jasons with reference to each of their individual life experiences.
But here, because we predominantly had “good” original Jason juxtaposing with “bad” Jason(2), I feel there should have been a greater spectrum of personality types between the two to give that bit more nuance to the characters. Because frankly, when they all bleed into one, it’s dull AF.
And with relevance to the science of the book’s world building, Crouch needed to explain with greater clarity how the superposition box was discoverable in each reality. How it remained rooted in one position in each multiverse. How it was the key etc.
In my opinion he really brushed over that too much.
And I think if you compare Dark Matter to Recursion (his latest release), you can see that he had given greater thought to resolution of his scientific problems and therefore leads you to believe that he has a better understanding of the basic physics behind it.
In Dark Matter he basically poorly explained a pretty simple thought experiment because he didn’t fully grasp the concept himself.
And that’s why the science felt repetitive with an odd *buzz word* thrown in here and there to keep the illusion of super-complicated physics.
So to prevent readers from poking holes in his theories he should’ve blinded us with greatly detailed characters, and better world building for each of the multiverses visited. If the characters and the worlds visited were truly detailed, if they felt so much more alive to us, then his science would not necessarily mattered as much.
I guess this book was alright and I didn’t completely hate it but I really didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would have.
I think that’s basically because it was essentially a draft of ‘Recursion‘ which as I’ve said I read a few weeks before reading this. Crouch has definite stylistic patterns with his writing that I found boring to read about this second time around.
- The melodrama in this was too much.
- I didn’t buy the romance plot line.
I think it’s a very light sci fi novel. I feel I would have preferred something more in the hard SciFi genre as it would have felt far less disposable than this.