The Ultimate Guide to Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: A Thrilling Read

xoraslibrary- dark matter blake crouch book review

Table of Contents

This is a book review and guide to Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

Book Info

Title: Dark Matter

Author: Blake Crouch

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 340

Authors website: Find more about him here

Setting (from Goodreads):

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream?

And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human–a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

What kind of readers will love Dark Matter by Blake Crouch?

This book is perfect for readers who love science fiction and mentions the multiverse. 

Dark matter is a mix of character and plot-driven. It tells of a physics professor who gets kidnapped and realizes the multiverse is real. We follow him on a journey to get back to his family. 

The epigraph you see before the first chapter starts.

Then the author adds a quote after that

T.S Eliot, “Burnt Norton”

What is the theme of Dark matter? 

The love Jason has for his family is the main theme 

A second theme I would say is the decisions that affect your life choices. 

The paths you don’t take. 

Dark Matter Book Characters Guide:

Jason Dessen

the main character. He teaches Quantum mechanics for undergrad physics at Lakemont College in Chicago. He could’ve been way more but he and his wife were expecting so he decided to dedicate more time to his family

Daniella

Jason’s wife. She used to be a comer, (not sure what this is but I guess art people will know) to Chicago’s art scene. 

She had a whole studio full of her art and she had a solo exhibition coming up. It was around the time she realized she was pregnant with their son Charlie. 

Both she and Jason decided to give up their individual careers to focus on their family. She Now teaches private art lessons to students. 

Charlie

 the 14-year-old kid who came along and ruined both his parents’ dreams. 

Joking!!! 

He’s a chill kid, we don’t see much of him except in the beginning of the book and towards the end.

Ryan Holder

Ryan was Jason’s old college friend.

He just won a multi-disciplinary award in life and physical science.

Works in neuroscience. 

He has always had a crush on Daniela

I got the vibe that he was really cocky and the way the setting was set up, I thought he was going to be the antagonist.

Because the whole theme runs on if Jason hadn’t given up on his dream he would’ve been the one to win that award. And Ryan implies that while talking to Jason, saying he’s always been the smartest of the two. 

So that’s why I got the vibe that maybe Ryan’s jealous of Jason and is involved in what happens to him. 

So that storyline felt dead to me because we didn’t get much of Ryan throughout the book.

Second universe characters

Jason2

– the Jason from another universe. Pretty much a dick. He created a way to go into other universes and tries it himself so he could have a better life with Daniela.

Since he messed up in his world. He has everything he has except a family. 

Leighton Vance

– a chief executive and medical officer. He’s Jason2’s coworker and friend. Another dick

Amanda Lucas– 

She’s the lab psychiatrist who worked there for 9 years (in Jason2’s world) and a complete sweetheart. 

After she realizes that the company she works for has completely gone off the rails, She helps Jason escape and try to find a way back to his world. 

She decides to come along and soon goes her separate way into a different universe. 

I was really hoping we’d see where she ends up but there was no closure on her story. 

Daniela2

She works as an artist in Chicago basically living her dreams, since she and Jason2 never had a child together. They never got married.

Ryan2– 

A nobody really. Well, a nobody who created the prefontal cortex that allows them to travel through the different universes.

My review:

I thought the pacing in Dark Matter was just perfect- we immediately opened with Jason and his family at home preparing their dinner.

The backstory comes with the scenery setup.

I usually like stories that open up like this instead of giving overly descriptions. 

His wife is reading something off her phone, on the couch, with a glass of wine in her hand 

and Charlie- his son is sitting at the table drawing while Jason is making dinner.

Even though Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is a science fiction novel, It wasn’t hard to read or understand when they were talking about a bunch of scientific stuff. 

Maybe because subconsciously, my mind glosses over that anyway. 

But it never made me feel lost in the story, I was still able to follow along with the plot. 

Page 5

We get this quote because Jason gets an invite from his old friend Ryan to come out and celebrate his win with him. 

Ryan’s win, not Jason’s. 

Ryan won an award that will open the door for him to receive grant money to do whatever scientific project he plans to do. 

So as Jason’s leaving to meet up with Ryan, his wife calls out the door for him to bring back ice cream. 

Then he’s out the door. 

This was the last moment Jason was going to remember- having family night and going to meet with an old friend. 

Because in Jason’s mind, he’s coming back home. 

It’s just a normal night to him

Because of course, no one thinks they are going to get kidnapped. 

But he does. 

Different Character Perspectives

The main character is Jason so I thought that his POV was the only narrative we were going to read from. But Chapter Four enters with Jason2’s POV in Jason’s world. 

So I thought that was interesting. We didn’t get much character development from him to be honest because we don’t read what kind of person Jason2 was before he kidnapped Jason. 

We just get a backstory. But not his interactions with the people in his world. It would’ve been nice to see what his mindset was before when he was building the machine and if that was his intention all along- to look for a world where he was happy with Daniela. 

Or if that thought came to him after he entered this world and saw how happy the other version of him was with his family. 

Character development

With Jason2 I felt like nothing he did really made sense to me. 

I knew he wanted to experience a life with Daniela because in his world he decided to stick with his career instead. 

So that meant Daniela and him were not together. But what happened to the baby wasn’t really explained. 

Charlie doesn’t exist in the alternate universe but Daniela2 was pregnant.

So that leaves the reader to assume maybe she got an abortion? Or had a miscarriage. It’s not explained. 

Just that when she got pregnant, Jason2 told her he couldn’t start a family right now and he had to focus on his career. 

He continued with his research and then she continued with her art career and they went their separate ways. But there’s no Charlie. 

But even with that backstory, I felt like Jason2’s actions made no sense because if he wanted to actually have a family- surely he could have one now with Daniela? In his own world?

I say this because when we see Jason wake up in a world that’s not his- his first thought is to go see his wife Daniela. 

Except, of course, she isn’t his wife in this universe. But he doesn’t know that. 

Jason2 and Daniela2

When Daniela2 saw Jason she embraced him- so it’s not like Jason2 and daniela2 were on bad terms. They could’ve made it work. 

The only reason I was thinking of that they could’nt maybe because of Jason2’s work. Maybe they didn’t allow relationships? Because their work is so top secret? 

It’s not clear the dynamic there. 

But Daniela2 clearly still had feelings for Jason2 because she slept with Jason. 

I would understand if Daniela2 was dead then Jason2 would have absolutely no chance of a relationship with her and then his motives of wanting to go to a universe where she’s alive would be clear but that wasn’t the case. 

With Jason- when he was in the alternate universe I thought he was taking it really well for someone who was just kidnapped and shipped to a different world. Finding out that his wife of 15 years was dating his best friend from college. 

In chapters six and nine we get Daniela’s POV with Jason2. She notices everything about him is different. Like the little things he does in the mornings or how he acts with Charlie. He isn’t as fatherly as Jason is. 

Back in the alternate universe

Leighton and the rest of the team at this top-secret place have found out that Jason isn’t Jason2 so they put him in some kind of cell. Amanda comes in and breaks him out. 

They both end up escaping in the box. 

The box is basically the door to other universes. 

The way it was worded in the book was “Prefrontal cortex as a consciousness generator” 

No clue but I took it as you get in the box and then it takes you to a bunch of doors where you pick one to go through. 

Amanda and Jason spent weeks trying to find Jason’s universe and every time it was the wrong one. 

Amanda decides to go her separate ways after realizing she might be affecting the universes they end up in. 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch ending 

I thought the ending was pretty meh. 

After weeks of exploring different universes with Amanda, we never saw her again. 

I know this was more Jason getting back to his family but Amanda was a character I grew to like and the way she left didn’t feel like closure to me. 

I was expecting to see her in the end and everything would come full circle but it didn’t. 

Another weird thing that happened in the end was when Jason found his family, 

He kept thinking of a solution to make his family safe because at this point- it wasn’t just Jason2 who wanted his family. But a whole bunch of other Jasons who didn’t have a Daniela in their universe. 

So Jason’s solution was to get all the Jasons together and see who was worthy of being with Daniela and Charlie. 

Completely weird way to think. This is his world. His family. There is no “deciding who is the better Jason for them” They had their chances in their worlds and blew it. 

They are not entitled to step into a different universe and take over someone else’s life just because of their own selfish needs. 

And think of his family. They obviously would want the husband and father they know and love. Not some other alternate version of him. 

Personally, I would have lured all the other alternate versions into the box and blew it up. 

But that’s just me.

Will Dark Matter by Blake Crouch be a tv series?

Yes, It’s coming on Apple TV on May 8th, 2024.

I’m actually excited to see this TV series and how everything plays out on film. 

The Dark Matter book by Blake Crouch was published on July 26, 2016, so for the author to revisit his story and possibly expand on worldbuilding through TV must be an awesome feeling. 

Blake crouch is going to be the executive producer showrunner and writer so I honestly have really high hopes for this series and I can’t wait to watch it.

Would I recommend the Dark Matter? 

Yes, If you’re looking for a short book to escape in then this would be perfect. The science topics aren’t too complex and it feels like you’re just drowning in facts and information. 

The plot is fun to follow along

You’re on this journey with the character figuring out how to get back to his world. 

I wouldn’t expect too much out of the ending because The main character Jason Dessen doesn’t choose the sensible route in my opinion. 

But of course, you may think differently. I do wish we explored more of Charlie’s dynamic and POV but we got bits of that towards the end. 

The pacing isn’t too fast or too slow.

It would have been nice to get more of Ryan as well considering he built the whole box that allows them to travel through the different universes. 

But overall, I enjoyed the plot and the theme of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to read a short science fiction novel that isn’t too complex. 

I would suggest the midnight library for a similar read, The theme is the same in regards to regrets and wanting to change their past. also the them of there being different versions of the main character.

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