What do you make of a book that both Ryan and Watson endorsed? And wasn’t Ready Player One?
Well, you’d have Blake Crouch’s 2016 release Dark Matter.
The book opens with physics professor Jason Dessen going out to have a few drinks with his old grad school roommate over said roommate’s recent success with a big science prize. Jason himself could have gone that route, but instead he married a girlfriend he impregnated and the two settled down to raise their son instead of achieving their own individual professional dreams. This is a small regret Jason has, but overall he’s more than happy with the way his life turned out. He loves his wife and his son. Everything is quiet.
While walking home from the bar, Jason is abducted by a man in a mask who seems to know a lot about him, and after the stranger steals all of Jason’s clothes and drugs him, Jason wakes up in a very sophisticated lab. A man he’s never met is welcoming him home and seems very glad to see him. Suddenly, Jason seems to have all the career success he missed out on, but he never married his wife and his son was never born.
Crouch’s style here reminded me a bit of the previous book of his I’d read, the first part in the Wayward Pines trilogy that became a surprise TV hit for the Fox Network last summer. The prose itself is simple and basic, but conveys the proper emotions from Jason at all times, but not in the style of a breathless adventurer like is normally the case for works like this. That makes for a different style than most, and it isn’t a hard book to follow. Truth be told, it does follow a similar chapter structure to Wayward Pines where the husband/main protagonist is struggling through a weird mystery while occasionally Crouch goes to check in with the man’s wife reacting her own way to other weird stuff.
The plot for this book is very smart, and while the reason everything changes may not be all that shocking to anyone who reads a good deal of sci-fi, the book works well and is an excellent adventure. My only gripe is the style of prose doesn’t work as well for me as others do. Nine out of ten seedy hotel visits.