A BiblioSanctum Co-Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are  our own.

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Crown (July 26, 2016)

Length: 352 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

If nothing else, this novel gets high marks from me because of how unbelievably addictive it was. On a week night, with an early wake up time the next day, I was still reading with my heart pounding in my chest at 2am refusing to quit this puppy until I was finished. Even though I’ve known about the author’s Wayward Pines series years now, I’ve never read it nor have I watched the TV show based on it. But if those books are anything like Dark Matter, I just might have to go check them out now because Mr. Crouch has a new fan.

But first, how to describe Dark Matter? This is definitely one of those “the less you know going in, the better” kind of novels. It’s enough to say that I was hooked from the first page, and the story’s premise was both intriguing and a punch in the gut. Imagine yourself in protagonist Jason Dessen’s shoes. It’s family night. Jason’s heading out to see a friend, then to pick up some ice cream from the store for his wife and son. All of a sudden, a masked man comes out of nowhere, brandishing a gun and threatening to kill Jason unless he does exactly as he’s told. The abductor makes him take them to an isolated area, then knocks him out by injecting him with some kind of drug. The next thing Jason knows he’s waking up strapped to a gurney, in a sterile room, surrounded by people he’s never met. And it’s the weirdest thing, but all these strangers seem to have been expecting him.

Then Jason returns to his house and discovers everything about it is different. He was never married to his wife. They never had a son. He’s not a college professor, but an award winning physicist responsible for the biggest scientific breakthrough the world has ever known. Years ago, before he met his wife and became a dad, this was the life Jason always dreamed of, but now, alone in a world he doesn’t recognize, all he wants is his family back.

This story was both thrilling and terrifying. Its premise reminded me so much of a recurring nightmare I still have sometimes, in which find myself waking up in the crappy old apartment I had in college and learn that the last six or seven years never happened. The thought that my husband, my kids, my whole life since getting married could be all a dream is the most devastating feeling I could ever imagine, and I’m always filled with a breathless kind of relief when I wake up for real and get all my senses back. It’s probably no surprise then, that I felt an immediate connection to the main protagonist Jason Dessen. The opening scenario in this book really struck a chord with my deepest fears, and I found myself unable to tear my eyes away, wondering what might have happened to Jason, and hoping against hope that he will find the answers he seeks.

Of course, we eventually find out the truth. But since it’ll be difficult to discuss this book further without spoiling, I’m just going to describe my experience with the rest of the story in the broadest of terms. The pacing was great, and other than just a slight slowdown in the middle, Dark Matter was pretty much perfect in its execution. Even in his darkest moments, Jason was a protagonist I found I could root for, because Crouch made it easy for me to sympathize with the character’s desperation and anguish. The best part of the book was probably the last section, with its incredible mind-bending twist. I know it’s a bit of a cliché to call a book “unputdownable”, but in this case, I really can’t think of a better way to describe the ending. Not even the late hour or the unpleasant prospect of spending the next day as a sleep-deprived zombie could stop me from devouring the last few chapters.

It’s been a long time since a book has filled me so much excitement, or that amazing feeling of “Just one more page, just one more I swear…” This was simply fantastic. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, exhilarating read for the summer, look no further than Dark Matter, a flawless blend of science fiction, mystery, and thrilling suspense.


Mogsy 2

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Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

Tiara’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Crown (July 26, 2016)

Length: 352 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

It’s hard to describe Dark Matter without feeling like I’m giving away too much of the story because much of the enjoyment comes from walking into this story blind. Jason Dessen is an average man, living an average life with his wife and son. Part of him wonders what his life would’ve been like if he’d pursued scientific greatness rather than settling down and becoming a professor at a local college. Everyone has moments where they wonder what their life would’ve been like if they’d chosen a different path, but so few find their lives upended with a simple question that leads them through a harrowing journey that causes them to self-reflect as they try to regain what they love.

I don’t know what I expected when I went into this book, but it surely wasn’t that. It never ceases to amaze me when a book leaves me completely thrown by the story. This book wastes little time getting to the meat of the story. You’re introduced to Jason and his family. When Jason is confronted by the man in the mask, I told myself that I could see where this was headed, but it managed to go places that I didn’t really see coming. That turned it into such a thrilling journey. While I won’t say this had a ton of character development, the story still allows you to come to know these characters and care about their story.

As a huge sci-fi fan, I love when authors play with alternate universes. Science fiction can be daunting for some, especially as it starts to descend more into the science-y part. This story hinges on the scientific concept of Schrödinger’s cat, but it doesn’t require that you’re familiar with the concept to understand this story. This book can be enjoyed by the average person without much fear that the science portions will go over their heads. I think this book will give people more “down the rabbit hole” vibes than super science vibes because of all the turns that it takes. Just when you think you have this story all figured out, it spins you around again.

Another thing that I loved about this one is how much it made me think of Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, and I don’t mean that to be condescending to this novel. What I mean is Crouch presented this science-y story that centers around very human emotions such as love. I’m always impressed when writers remember such emotions and how they’d influence/complicate the scenarios presented even if you have the most logical people in the world starring in your story. This is part of what kept me into this story because Jason has an established life and I was dying to know how these events would change his average life. This story is about possibilities and the endless amounts of them that can exist in the universe and how one thing can change your whole world.

Like Mogsy, I haven’t read Wayward Pines even though I do have the books and keep promising myself that I will read the books soon. In fact, this is the first book I’ve read by Blake Crouch, and it was a wonderful, exciting journey that had me hanging on for dear life. If this is the kind of thrill that I can expect from his stories, I’ll definitely bump Wayward Pines closer to the top of my list.



24 Comments on “A BiblioSanctum Co-Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch”

  1. It was amazing! I was lucky enough to meet Blake at Comic Con a few days ago and I decided to read the first few pages while waiting in another line. It grabbed me and I could barely stop reading. Such an awesome surprise!


    • That is so cool that you met him! And yes, I know how you feel. I picked this one up late at night just to check out the first few pages to see if I wanted to read it next…an hour later, my eyes were still glued to the pages and I was already a quarter done. Oops!


  2. Sounds really good. I may have to grab it at some point. Sort of reminds me of a book I read earlier this year “Glass Shatters” but I think I may like this one better. I also have never watched the show but maybe I should.


  3. Since I saw this book in one of your periodic recap posts, I was more than intrigued by the premise: knowing that this thrilling premise develops into a compelling book only makes me want to add this one to my reading queue as soon as possible.
    Thank for the great review(s)!! 🙂


    • Oh my goodness, I think this would be right up your alley. Especially since I know you’re an avid reader of sci-fi 🙂 Hopefully you’ll find it as addictive as I did!


    • Been a while since a book kept me up reading well into the night because I couldn’t bear to stop – what a great feeling, totally worth the sleep deprivation, lol.


  4. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  5. I’ve been hearing so much hype about this one, I’m really excited to give it a shot. I haven’t read the Wayward Pines series yet. I think I might start with this one before I try that series by him.


  6. Pingback: #RRSciFiMonth: Mogsy’s Top 10 Sci-Fi Reads of 2016 | The BiblioSanctum

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  8. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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