Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

past reviews
Dark Matter
By Blake Crouch
Narrated by  Jon Lindstrom
Audiobook ISBN13: 9781101924471
Length: 10+ hours
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller

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.

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


Dark Matter boasts some impressive stats that include a Goodreads average of 4.12 with nearly 60,000 ratings. It  certainly holds the popular vote in recent science fiction thrillers. It has been on my TBR screaming at me for some time. I couldn’t seem to make that time though, so I turned to audio. And admittedly, I was pretty excited to begin what seemed to offer promises of sci-fi suspense.

Unfortunately, I found a lot of disappointment during my time with Dark Matter. A lot. I am going to keep this review on the light side for that very reason. I am not one to spend any significant time cutting into an authors hard work. I get that reading is a personal experience. I understand that just because I did not enjoy a book does not mean it is a bad book. Clearly this book has an audience. But I am not a part of that audience.

I fault part of my less than stellar experience partially on the fact that I was expecting something much more complex and dense than what I actually received. The plot, while not without interest, felt too familiar. I am no stranger to tales of multi-dimensional, alternate universe scenarios. And that is what we have here. Sure it’s was served with a dash of tech jargon a.k.a. fancy words, but I was unable to find anything grand beneath the surface. It was simply an okay story being delivered at a fast past with a the added element of love and family (which are not exactly original either).  The premise, while not to be labeled terrible, did not offer anything extremely new. For me Crouch’s sci-fi adventure read more as a steady blend of the many common components one can expect find frequently in tales of multiverse travels.

“We all live day to day completely oblivious to the fact that we’re a part of a much larger and stranger reality than we can possibly imagine.”

Sadly, the characters were the biggest disappointment here for me. I did not connect with our protagonist Jason in any beneficial way. If I am being honest, I came to find myself annoyed with him and his decision-making which was ultimately detrimental to my final impression of the story. The dialog was often dry and offered little in terms of stimulation or character development. There was no growth happening. World building was another area of lost potential. Each dimension and scenario felt bleak and almost bland. Maybe I have seen or read one too many multi-dimensional stories and the bar is set too high? But I really don’t feel that is the case.

With that all said, Dark Matter is not without a few notable qualities. The writing style felt fluid and the narration cohesive, which can be a challenge in science fiction. There was certainly significant possibilities buried within this story. The author has attempted to address elements of love and humanity within. He questions the what ifs.

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

The execution and end product just fall short. I think this would be one that I might recommend for those who do not normally venture into sci-fi. It’s lack of complexity and easy readability, might make it ideal for anyone who is looking to ease into the genre. I have a feeling this one would translate better to film for myself. I was unable to find that magical connection that Dark Matter has seemed to so easily achieve with many others.

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75 thoughts on “Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

  1. Interesting review. I’ve seen a few good things about it, but hadn’t quite pushed myself to read it yet. Sounds like it may not be on the top of my list either. I love the thriller part of it, but based on some of your feedback, I may not like it. I appreciate the fair review and key details. Won’t say no to it, but not rushing out for it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a favorite it seems among many. It just was not the complex and in depth read I was expecting based on reviews. The theme and elements within have certainly been utilized more than once. So I was left wanting much more. Maybe you will like it? You never know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww sorry this one ended up falling short for you in a lot of areas, Danielle! I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one so it’s nice to finally hear something on the other side. I’m not a huge sci-fi reader but I love the whole multi-dimensional aspect. I definitely still plan on giving this a read because I’m curious, but I’m going to keep in mind your thoughts. Especially character wise. And go in with lower expectations. Great review as always!! I hope you enjoy your next read more. 😊♥

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad to hear you didn’t enjoy this one too much. I read this last year and gave it the full 5 stars, but like you said, this kind of book definitely won’t be for everyone and we all have differing likes and dislikes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you were able to appreciate this one so well. I may have went in expecting something entirely different. That tends to happen when we read so many rave reviews. I cannot help but wonder if I might have felt differently going in blind?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, I tend to find if you go in blind, you tend to enjoy the book more because you haven’t built up and expectations! When I reviewed Dark Matter, I purposefully left my review pretty blind so I wouldn’t spoil it for anyone or get their hopes up!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. awesome review Danielle!! i have bought this book but i don’t read much sci-fi so I’m not sure how i will feel. i don’t really like when i can’t connect with a character so i’ll be aware of all of this. xoxo ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heard so many positive reviews about this. But it’s always refreshing to see the other side of the coin. I always go to the negative reviews first on sites like Amazon. I can deal with any positive but what sways me more often than not is if I can put up with what negatives a book has to offer.

    I have read Blake Crouch’s ‘Abandon’ and loved it. You may get on better with that as it’s a blend of adventure and mystery set in modern day and 19th century America rather than Sci Fi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the recommendation! I will make sure to the title up. I have only ever heard of his Wayward Pines series before this one. So maybe it will be a better read.

      I can certainly understand why this connects with so many readers, but feel it is a theme that is too familiar for some, which was my main struggle. And the main character was a huge issue. I would love to hear your thoughts if you read this one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great honest review Danielle! I think you might be right about people who don’t typically read sci-fi enjoying it…that would be me:) I never pick up sci-fi or fantasy and I really enjoyed this book. I had no expectations going in though, actually I doubted whether I’d even like it. Hopefully your next read is stellar!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not watched Fringe so I cannot make the comparison. But it certainly rang true of past scifi shows that featured multi-dimensional travel. There were no “new” elements for me. So I am sure that my frequent adventures into the genre certainly impacted my experience with this one. The writing seems solid though. I am not writing this author off. Thank you Stephanie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, well, well… hehehe 🙂 I was really interested to see you had reviewed this one and surprisingly it didn’t really deliver for you.. This however, makes me kind of want to have a go at it just to check it out XD Thing is, I’ve seen soooooo many good reviews for it and I’ve been thinking- I really have to read this, but I kinda don’t feel lke it? 😀 So, it makes a book really intriguing for me when I see less than positive reviews… It becomes a challenge in a way XD
    Brilliant review, Danielle…
    Oh… do you think it would have been a different experience if you would have read it instead of listened to it? Get more into it, or something? No?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha. Just read it already and we can compare 😉

      I asked myself several times about whether audio verses book would have altered my final experience, and I am going to say “no.” I had actually started with book and switched. The narration was not bad at all. So I do not feel like it factored into the elements that made this less than stellar.

      Truth be told, as someone who goes through serious sci-fi moods and also watches a ton of the genre, I expected so much more complexity that I received.

      The theme was another struggle for me. It has been done a lot. So if you are going to tackle it, be prepared to really introduce something unique. I did not feel like Dark Matter did.

      This will sound harsh, but it read like a familiar story dressed up in a few fancy words.

      So now go grab a copy and we can debate whether you agree or not! Will be fun to do, right 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can totally get where you’re coming from here… basically this is a book for soft core scifi newbs.. which might be good for me, alas I believe I could get along well with the hard core scifi as well… Eating my smarties every morning and what not XD
        Yep… I agree… there are a few books I have to read now just to compare notes with you! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Aw sorry it didn’t work for you. It did get super hyped. I liked it a bit more but I’ve been on a thriller kick lately and it’s almost like a sci-fi thriller in a way, but I did question some of Jason’s decisions. So I totally get how you feel. And the end with the rather large number of people (trying to avoid spoilers here lol) seemed a little silly too, now that I think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! The ending (also without divulging spoilers) became a tad too much. It wasn’t necessary. I think maybe if I could have connected with the MC better and went in expecting less complexity, I might have found more appreciation 🙂


  9. I’m actually reassured by your review! I kept seeing raving posts about the book, which means I put it off because I thought it was just too much hype and I am leery of books everyone agrees on. Now I can dive into Dark Matter knowing my Twin Pea found it “okay” and it’ll help me be more alert! Great and well-written review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope it does help! If you are more into lighter sci-fi then this one might work for you. By lighter I mean not so complex. I am hoping you can connect with the main character more than I did. That will greatly improve the overall experience. I just thought he made stupid choices haha. Thank you Twin Pea ❤


  10. Very interesting. I’ve read loads of Blake Crouch, though not the Sci Fi – they range from outstanding (Abandon and Loaded something-or-other) to quite readable rubbish that I let go half way through (Snowbound). I think he’s a terrific writer as far as page-turning goes, but they all seem to have been written in a bit of a hurry. Apart from Abandon. They always require a lot of belief-suspension, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Abandon was actually mentioned to me after writing this review, so it is now on my list! It seems to be one of his more favored works. This was my first intro to his writing.

      I can definitely see that he has solid writing skills! So I am not giving up. I just feel that when it comes to sci-fi he doesn’t deliver the complexity and depth I like.

      Thank you so much for the great insight. I will try to look up the other title as well 🙂


      1. Great stuff! Abandon was my first… Just had an idea ~ in the ‘website’ box is the link to my reviews of his books. I don’t expect you to read them all or anything, but just to give you an idea what I thought!! Favourites: Abandon and short story collection Fully Loaded. Snowbound is definitely the worst.

        BTW, I liked your remark about the book being good if it’s your introduction to SciFi. But you get pickier the more you read of a genre, don’t you?!


        1. Tyler, thank you so much for this. I apologize as my WP marked this as spam. I certainly appreciate the insight. I think Abandon witll be my next attempt when I am ready 🙂 You are so right! The more we read of a genre, the more we demand.


  11. Fantastic, honest review, Danielle! I love your honesty, as this is a pretty popular book… but I am also a bit disappointed because this seems like a book that both you and I would enjoy and I’ve been looking forward to reading it! I still may have to give it a shot, though. Just to see. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I guess this one just isn’t enough of a challenge to sci-fi adepts. So if people who are expert sci-fi readers don’t like this one and people who don’t usually read sci-fi, like this one.. I should give this one a shot haha. It wasn’t on my readlist but I’m strangely attracted to it now. I think your review here is great but makes most people want to read it ;-).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ahh it’s a shame you didn’t love this one- but that’s totally fair enough! I’ve not read this yet and I haven’t read many sci fi books, so I’m not sure I’d know a book was unoriginal in this genre 😉 but it’s always good to hear mixed reviews- cos I find that if a book only has positive feedback I can find it overhyped. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought that being a Whovian myself, that this would hit the spot. I think the expectation was just too high. I have seen one too many stories involving multiverse travels 😉 but I am glad it has found a welcomed home among so many.


  14. Wheeww, this is one review that I did not expect, but definitely one that is greatly appreciated. Would have love to get the full hate edition of this review with all the spoilers, once I get the chance to read it though. The buzz behind this book was intense when it released and I’ve more often than not heard only good things for it. I think I have a “decent” idea of what ideas could be twisted around in a multiverse-centered plot, but I definitely can’t wait to find out what exactly happens in this story. Fantastic review, as always, Danielle! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yessss. You and I are totally on the same page for once! Thank goodness. I completely agree with everything you have to say here– including that the narration and writing style were on point, which isn’t always achieved in science fiction.

    Jason. Ugh. I couldn’t connect with him at all, either. He’s supposed to be this brilliant Physicist who was working on AU theory, and yet he couldn’t figure it out or even come up with some ideas why things were happening? What? He also never stops to appreciate what’s going on around him. EVER. I am again super confused.

    Honestly, by the time we got to the end of the novel I just wanted it to end. I was so bored. I didn’t care about Jason or his solutions or whatever. Just get it over with. O_o

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I found Jason to be so dull! Nothing about him or his actions/lack of made sense. Honestly felt like throat punching him by the end of the book 😉 Shhhh don’t tell. But yes I feel we are on the exact same page with this one. Too bad. Will have to try a different book by Crouch maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. “The execution and end product just fall short. I think this would be one that I might recommend for those who do not normally venture into sci-fi.”

    I was planning on asking you this questions at the end of the review, but you answered my question lol I wonder if I would enjoy it more because I rarely ever read sci-fi? I still think I’ll give it a go. Hopefully I enjoy it a little more than you did lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The odds are certainly in your favor. Many seem to love this one. The writing is not bad by any means. I am sure there are plenty of die hard sci-fi fans who might even argue with me. It was sci-fi but never really managed to feel like it. So hard to describe. I hope you enjoy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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