Earlier this year, I read Blake Crouch’s novel Dark Matter for the first time. A friend of mine had said it was the best book ever blah blah blah. I’d only heard of Blake Crouch because of the Wayward Pines Trilogy being adapted into a Netflix show. Dark Matter, however, blew my fricking cake hole, to put it politely. I read it in a few nights; the third night was when most of the reading got done. Once the book became something I did not expect, I became a sweaty, hunched over, speed-reading mess. Upon completion, I loaned it to a different friend and then they loaned it to another friend. I have no idea where the book is now; hopefully, someone is out there manically flipping through its pages as I type this…
Image Via Giphy.com
The book begins normally enough: A man is having wine and pasta with his family on a typical night. He is then urged by his wife to go visit an old college roommate because said roommate has just received some scientific accolade. The man is then kidnapped and loses consciousness. When he wakes, he is in a world where he has no family and all his monumental life decisions were made differently than he remembers. What follows is an epic tale of determination, love, and mind-fuckery.
The novel deals with the idea of the multi-verse which has recently been explored in shows like Legion and the new animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (pay me, Marvel). It’s the idea that every decision we make is being simultaneously made differently in an instantaneously created parallel universe. I’ve seen this explained by characters in popular culture with the use of things like french fries and tree branches. People love this shit, they pay for it; It’s a safe bet in regards to profit-driven decisions. However, this does not take away from the fact that Blake Crouch killed it.
Blake Crouch is good at taking popular concepts and using them to explore real stuff. This is what great writers need to do if they want to get read and adapted; use popular genres such as sci-fi and fantasy to say the things they yearn to say. Dark Matter is a love story at its core, and readers will feel this. The main character, Jason, just wants to get back to his family. Director Taika Waititi, who was generally known for indie films, has described the story of his newest film, Thor: Ragnork, as being about a man trying to get home while a burglar is in his house. It’s not about all the CGI and spectacle, it’s about what’s at the center of a story.
This sort of simplicity applies here as Blake Crouch stays true to the heart and will of his character. When I finished it, I wanted more, so I pillaged the internet in search of similar binge reads. I ended up reading books such as The Punch Escrow, The Breach, Artemis, and Flint—the latter making zero sense in this context. All of these were good books but none of the experiences I had with them compared to the journey that Dark Matter had taken me on.
Blake Crouch has already sold the rights of his next book Recursion to Netflix. Recursion doesn’t even come out until June 2019. Its story deals with memories, particularly people with false memories who believe they are living the wrong lives. Sound familiar? One can only assume it will make us question our realities in the same way Dark Matterdid. I’ll read it, then watch it. Obviously.
Closing note: The synopses of Dark Matter and Recursion both begin with “those were the last words of”; whoever is writing these needs to switch it up.
If Dark Matter is made into a movie, please don’t let Roland Emmerich direct it.
Featured Image and Novel Images Via Amazon