Recursion, by Blake Crouch, a quick review

“Nothing can be controlled, only endured”

Barry, Recursion

Recursion introduces us to Barry, a New York cop and Helena, a neuroscientist trying to help patients with dementia. Barry is still grieving his daughter that was killed in a hit and run when she was fifteen and Helena wants to finish her research to help her mother with Alzheimers disease before the illness takes her.

There will be spoilers
I started this book right after finishing Dark Matter by the same author and at first I enjoyed it. It felt like an extension of Dark Matter. It was like adding time on top of space.
The story of this book is hard to describe since it deals with time travel, different protagonists and very different tones throughout the book.
A short summary would be that it follows Barry and Helena as they try to set the world right after Helenas time travel chair has broken the world. Even if I was trying to be spoiler free that is about has far as we can go before getting deep into the book.


I’ve now read three Blake Crouch novels and I think that Barry is the only character that has actually felt like a real person to me. Crouch really showed the complexities of grief, love and loss with Barry. The fact that Barry and Julia still divorced even after Barry managed to save his daughter and his utter devotion to Helena when she found him made me feel so much for him. Barrys joy when he realized that he could do it all again and do it right. And then the utter mundanity of just living your life.


The nature of reality is the biggest themes. Is reality only our memories? What happens when they change? The fact that we think we see the world here and now but when you get down to it, all our perceptions gets filtered and comes to us with a delay, no matter how infinitesimal that delay may be. All we can ever perceive are memories.
Another big theme is power. The ultimate power, to change others reality for our own benefit. Some will use it for personal gain, others attempts to help others. But is there a difference in morality?


When I read Dark Matter it took a long time for me to be truly hooked but then I couldn’t stop reading. With this it was almost the opposite. When Helena gets to DARPA the book went downhill for me. There were to many:

“We shouldn’t”
“But we must!”

for me to really appreciate it.
Then comes the parts were Helena and Barry are relieving their lives over and over to try and stop the apocalypse. This almost made me want to stop reading. It was just so dark and so hopeless.

I am by no means a stranger to the apocalyptic flavor of sci-fi but this was just like wading through molasses of misery. Not even the ending saved this book for me.

Leave a Comment