Dark Matter

I could not put this book down. Also, it was kind of creepy.

Assumed Audience: readers of sci-fi or thrillers or both — especially if you have an interest in identity, memory, and the ways they intersect.

cover for Dark Matter
Dark Matter, Blake Crouch (2016)
Crouch’s 2016 thriller is one of the best presentations of the goodness of the quiet beauty of a loving family over professional and financial success I’ve seen in quite some time. While also being gripping and creepy — quite a hat trick.

As I posted this morning, I read two novels by Blake Crouch over my vacation: Recursion and Dark Matter. Recursion is his newest thriller, and had come up as a recommendation on Kobo after I finished some other popcorn”-level fiction. Dark Matter came out back in 2016, but I’d never heard of it… until I finished Recursion and my friend Ben told me he thought Dark Matter was even better.

Having read it, I’m not sure which is better between Recursion and Dark Matter, but I can say this: Dark Matter is shorter, tighter, and a lot creepier. I read the whole thing with only a single break (for dinner with my family), and I really enjoyed it. As with Recursion, Crouch is interested not just in keeping readers on the edge of their seats, but in asking questions about the nature of personal identity, personal history, and how the choices we make define us.

I found Crouch’s resolution to this particular plot to be a bit less satisfying than the resolution to Recursion — but this is a place where your mileage may vary: my friend Ben had exactly the inverse experience. On the flip side, the stakes here were lower but more intense and more personal, and that plus the shorter length of the book meant that Dark Matter was more intense and gripping. I think the difference comes out in the wash: the two books are both very good, and each does some things better than the other.

Without spoiling anything, I will say this: my very favorite part of Dark Matter was that it unabashedly affirms that a quiet life of love with one’s family is better than all the financial and professional success in the world. That it affirmed that while also keeping my glued to my Kobo and being awfully creepy at moments throughout is… pretty impressive.