Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Book Review

Dark Matter is the high-concept and dizzying brainchild of award-winning author Blake Crouch. In this scifi thriller, a once prominent physicist-turned-professor finds himself lost in the multiverse, trying to find his way back to his original reality. Similar to the 90’s television show Sliders, Dark Matter gives a peak into strange and dangerous parallel realities, but with a finite number of chances to find the right one. Crown | Kindle Edition | July, 2016 | 354 pp

Jason Dessen is happy with his life. He had the chance to make it big with the physics projects he had been working on, but life took him in another direction. His girlfriend became pregnant, they married, and for the first year of his life, his son Charlie needed major medical attention. He lost his funding but quietly entered the world of academia and settled as a professor. His wife gave up her career as an artist to become a mother. We all make sacrifices. Jason’s son is now fifteen, they have a great life together, and family nights are his favorite. The book opens on such a night.

Jason decides to go meet his old colleague at the bar for just a few hours while Daniela makes dinner. His friend Ryan had just won the Pavia Prize, a prestigious honor in science and one that Jason could have won if life hadn’t derailed him. After an unsettling visit, reminding Jason of what could have been, he leaves but is kidnapped on the way home. The masked assailant seems familiar, but Jason can’t place it. He is taken to a strange location, forced to change clothes, and then drugged.

When he comes to, he has absolutely no idea what is going on. People are around him, fawning over him, congratulating him. They tell him that he’s been gone for months. They tell him that he’s the first one who made it back, although not the first one to go. They tell him that this was all his project, his idea. All Jason knows is that he was kidnapped and now he’s in some strange building, talking with people who act like they know him. He might have brain damage or it could be the drugs. So he escapes and runs home. That’s when it gets even weirder.

He finds his house but it’s not his house. He owns it, but everything is different on the inside. His wife and son aren’t there. He finally finds Daniela but she’s no longer his wife. In fact, she never had been. She’s a prominent Chicago artist holding elaborate exhibitions and she’s dating his old friend Ryan, the one who won the Pavia prize. But now, he learns, he didn’t win it – Jason won it years ago. Still friends, Jason confides in Daniela and Ryan. He tells them what’s going on which proves to be a fatal mistake. The scientists looking for him hire a hit man, and Daniela is murdered in front of Jason.

Jason is taken back to the scientific compound he escaped from and learns to fake compliance. He discovers that he had created a door to the multiverse within a box, and that he had entered that box months ago. He was the first one to return. What the other scientists don’t realize is that this isn’t the same Jason. That Jason is the one responsible for ruining this Jason’s life. This Jason’s an unintentional impostor. It doesn’t take them long to figure it out, and soon Jason is running for his life. Entering the box, he has to learn how to drive it and how to find the reality he came from, a one-in-a-zillion chance.

Sound confusing? It’s really not! Not when you read it. I’m not the talented storyteller Blake Crouch is and when he tells the story, it’s very easy to understand. I loved the book The Martian by Andy Weir, but there was an awful lot of science-speak in it. There is tech-talk in Dark Matter, but it’s not heavy and Crouch makes it reader friendly. In fact, you might feel like a physics pro after reading. I do.

Once Jason enters the box to look for his way home with a helpful ally, they enter strange new realities such as ones that looked post-apocalyptic, some that looked barren and devoid of human life, some that were terrifying, some that were awe inspiring. The concept is incredibly fun to think about. Every time there’s a choice or defining step to be made, another reality branches off. With this theory, it means there are an infinite number of realities, always expanding.

Now take that concept and apply it to the time he spends looking for his reality. That’s where things get really tricky. There are a whole bunch of other Jason Dessens also trying to make their way home – and only one correct reality with Daniela and Charlie.

Mind blown. Over and over again. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the situation, Crouch throws in another loop and your mind is blown again. Over and over! There are no slow spots. Infinite realities mean infinite mind melts. Jason Dessen’s biggest threat isn’t the ever-expanding multiverse. It’s another odious Jason Dessen.

If you’ve ever wondered if your life might have been different if you had taken this or that path, there is another “you”, one that took said path, thinking the same thing (theoretically). You must read this book.

Dark Matter is the high-concept and dizzying brainchild of award-winning author Blake Crouch. In this scifi thriller, a once prominent physicist-turned-professor finds himself lost in the multiverse, trying to find his way back to his original reality. Similar to the 90's television show Sliders, Dark Matter gives a peak into strange and dangerous parallel realities, but with a finite number of chances to find the right one. Crown | Kindle Edition | July, 2016 | 354 pp Jason Dessen is happy with his life. He had the chance to make it big with the physics projects he had been working on, but life took him in another direction. His girlfriend became pregnant, they married, and for the first year of his life, his son Charlie needed major medical attention. He lost his funding but quietly entered the world of academia and settled as a professor. His wife gave up her career as an artist to become a mother. We all make sacrifices. Jason's son is now fifteen, they have a great life together, and family nights are his favorite. The book opens on such a night. Jason decides to go meet his old colleague at the bar for just a few hours while Daniela makes dinner. His friend Ryan had just won the Pavia Prize, a prestigious honor in science and one that Jason could have won if life hadn't derailed him. After an unsettling visit, reminding Jason of what could have been, he leaves but is kidnapped on the way home. The masked assailant seems familiar, but Jason can't place it. He is taken to a strange location, forced to change clothes, and then drugged. When he comes to, he has absolutely no idea what is going on. People are around him, fawning over him, congratulating him. They tell him that he's been gone for months. They tell him that he's the first one who made it back, although not the first one to go. They tell him that this was all his project, his idea. All Jason knows is that he was kidnapped and now he's in some strange building, talking with people who act like they know him. He might have brain damage or it could be the drugs. So he escapes and runs home. That's when it gets even weirder. He finds his house but it's not his house. He owns it, but everything is different on the inside. His wife and son aren't there. He finally finds Daniela but she's no longer his wife. In fact, she never had been. She's a prominent Chicago artist holding elaborate exhibitions and she's dating his old friend Ryan, the one who won the Pavia prize. But now, he learns, he didn't win it - Jason won it years ago. Still friends, Jason confides in Daniela and Ryan. He tells them what's going on which proves to be a fatal mistake. The scientists looking for him hire a hit man, and Daniela is murdered in front of Jason. Jason is taken back to the scientific compound…

What did I just read?

My rating

4.5 Stars

Forget about eating, sleeping, or taking care of your kids. So open this book with caution because it's going to suck you in.

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Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the self-instated editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist. Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult - but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads.


  • Hmmm, I’ve been wondering about picking this up. Maybe I should put it on my Christmas list!

  • After reading The Martian, I’m really intrigued by Dark Matter. I’ve had my eye on this book since it hit the shelves so I might take the plunge and read or listen to this story.

    • If you enjoyed The Martian, you will enjoy this story. Good science and lots of suspense. It keeps you on your toes!

  • Lauren

    Great review! I can’t wait to try this one – I’m hoping my hold on the audiobook comes in soon! 🙂

  • The Candid Cover YA book blogg

    I love a great thriller and this one sounds incredible! I am so glad that you enjoyed it. Thank you for putting it on my radar! 🙂

    • Awesome! Glad to hear it. I think you’ll be seeing a lot of reviews on this one in the coming days. It’s making the rounds pretty fast.

  • This book has been on my radar for a while. It sounds wonderful.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    • I think you’ll have to take the chance. It’s an easy read and a heck of a lot of fun.

  • Cyra Schaefer

    I have been seeing more and more about this book lately and it seems to all be good! I might have to pick this one up now that i actually know what it’s about! It sounds fascinating! Great review! 🙂

    • It’s flying off the shelves, that’s for sure. It has those mind-blowing moments that are addictive for readers. You’ll like it!

  • I have finally started seeing reviews for this one, and thus far haven’t found anything that puts me off. I look forward to reading it myself. I have often thought about all of the little choices in life that set us in a different direction that can result in big differences, and can’t resist this storyline. Great review.

    • Thanks, B.B. I think we’ve all thought about this in some form or another, but this book will really get your cogs churning.

  • Oh, this looks so interesting and neat! i may have to check it out at some point. 🙂
    -Amy

  • I’m not into thrillers so much, but I’m really curious about that one, thank you so much for sharing this! Also, great and detailed review 🙂

  • This one is SO high on my to-be-read list. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things of it so far. So yes, you’re definitely right by saying you must read this book! 😉 Awesome review Rebecca!

  • Bloggin’ ’bout Books

    ADORED this book. It’s unique and surprising and mind blowing and, surprisingly, touching. I’m glad others were as impressed with it as I was!

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