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.