Jason Dessen is an ordinary college physics professor and happily married family man until one very bad day. He’s kidnapped and then rendered unconscious by a mysterious hooded attacker who seems to know the most intimate details of his life. Then Jason wakes up, surrounded by strangers who claim to know him, but his life has been mysteriously altered and his wife and son are gone.
Crouch has written an imaginative novel encompassing quantum physics and how it affects the choices a person makes in life. At times sweetly romantic for a science fiction story, Dark Matter explores how even minor decisions serve to eventually define the person we become. Jason is literally offered an infinite number of escape paths, but only a finite number of choices. One wrong decision can separate him from his family forever.
The novel is written in Jason’s first person perspective. I don’t have a problem with first person, but the author uses a flat writing technique with short choppy paragraphs that are oddly jarring.
“I watch my blood pressure rise on the monitor.
I don’t want to set off the alarm again.
Closing my eyes, I breathe in.
Let it out.
Take another shot of oxygen.
My levels recede.”
The style permeates the book and doesn’t sound like a real person speaking or any kind of plausible internal dialog. People. Don’t. Think. That. Way.
While Jason is likable, the weakest parts in Dark Matter concern secondary characters. The villain in the alternate world attempts to keep Jason from returning to his ‘real’ life, but his motivation is irrational. Other than the fact that the story needs a protagonist, I didn’t see a logical reason for him to be so determined to separate Jason from his family. He’s rotten, but pointless. So is the woman who plays an important role in Jason’s escape attempt. She disappears halfway through the story. You learn little about her, her character is barely developed. Considering her pivotal role, nothing about her stands out. She’s more like a tool for Jason to use rather than a real person.
All told, Dark Matter is an interesting read that goes quickly, and explores questions about reality and choice not usual in science fiction. I’ve read that Crouch is writing the screenplay and actually think a movie will minimize the flaws and improve on the book.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.