In Dark Matter we meet Jason Dessen, a physics professor living the quiet life with a wife and a fifteen year old son. When walking home from a party celebrating his old college buddy Ryan, he is abducted and wakes up in a world so like his own, where everyone seems to know him. But it’s not his world, not his life. Now he needs to find his way home.
Below this point there will be spoilers
I wasn’t that impressed with this book at the start. It was touted as being a mind bending read and I wasn’t feeling it. But between chapter 5 and 6 I made all the excuses I could to keep reading. The laundry in our home has never been folded so neatly as when I listened to this book.
I was aware of the many-worlds interpretation and the multiverse is of course a common staple in science fiction. Dark Matter took a different approach to the subject matter that I appreciated. It was more down to earth if that’s possible to say about a book where someone builds a human sized box that with the help of a drug puts you in superposition so you can enter other worlds. I like when science fiction seems so possible.
Character wise I agree with a lot of other reviews. Many characters felt like they were there only cause they had a job to do. They didn’t feel like they had a life outside of what Crouch needed them to do to push Jason forward. But there were surprises. I was not prepared for Amandas departure. I assumed there would be more of a love triangle and that she would stay around long enough for things to get complicated.
I had some real issues with how Jason’s wife Daniella was portrayed. The perfect wife trope is so boring. She was so loving and so caring and so understanding. But she wasn’t a person. The way Crouch wrote her she felt more like a prize the different Jason’s were competing about.
As for Jason himself he was not a hero I felt any particular attachment to. I think we were supposed to be impressed by his single mindedness and determination but sadly he felt very one-dimensional.
Who are we if there is an infinite number of us? Are we nothing more than our choices? Who would we be if we’d make different choices?
The themes of identity and the importance of our choices permeates the whole book. Jason has plenty of time to think about what choices actually means to him as a person but he doesn’t seem to get very far sad to say. Mostly philosophy 101 talk.
All in all this was a fun read and it made you feel equal parts dumb and smart. As my first fiction book in ages I think this was a good pick. There were some interesting red herrings. In the beginning I was so convinced that it was Ryan that in some way had managed to steal Jasons life.
Even though I felt the characters a bit lacking I found the story itself fast paced and interesting and if you want to go for a fun sci-fi journey through the fabric of space I think you’ll enjoy this.