This is more like it. Dark Matter is a sci-fi techno-thriller that does right what Sleeping Giants did oh so wrong.
I haven’t read any of Blake Crouch’s previous work but Dark Matter instantly took me back to my teenage years when I was hooked on Michael Crichton – Jurassic Park, Sphere, The Andromeda Strain.
It’s a fast-paced page-turner built on short, staccato sentences that keep the eyes moving and the fingers flicking, the sort of book you can barrel through in a couple of sittings.
The story centers on Jason Dessen, a brilliant scientist who never reached his full potential because he decided to settle down with his wife and child rather than pursue his quantum physics research.
One night he’s attacked. He awakes in a strange facility where people he’s never met are congratulating him on his great achievement. Who are they? Where is he? How does he get back to his family?
Like any good techno-thriller it poses questions both scientific and existential. It explores the (pseudo-)science of the multiverse, the quantum theory that suggests our existence is only one of an endless number in which every conceivable possibility is playing out simultaneously. What would you do if you had the chance to go down the road not taken? To scrub out bad choices and regrets?
There are some plot holes and the characters – apart perhaps from Jason himself – are one-dimensional. As you might expect from this sort of book, the prose is nothing special but it does its job without pretense – and without insulting the reader’s intelligence too much.