Do you have regrets? Could you sit down and make a tree diagram of your life and identify the times when you had to make big choices and either way would have dramatically changed how your life ended up? I can. I can remember choices I’ve made all the way back to 6th grade that have taken me down a path that is very different than the one I would have taken otherwise. They are the kinds of things that keep me up at night when I am feeling particularly down about where I stand in life. The WHAT IF is a very real presence in my world.
As humans are prone to do, we simplify these fantasies. If we could just go back and do ONE thing differently everything would be okay. Everything would be different. Dark Matter will open your mind to the horrifying consequences of multiple lives lived and taking your chances with the path not taken.
This book is a journey you have to take. I don’t want this review to be like a book summary, because I would argue it’s kind of like a parable. Each person is going to experience it differently just as each character in the book would experience the cube differently, but there is an overarching lesson to be taken from Jason’s scientific endeavors. The only way to prepare you for this book is to say that you need to take that thought of going back to change one thing, but realize that ANYTHING you change makes a different possibility. Sure you go back in time to attend one college instead of the other, but then because you order a cheeseburger instead of a wrap you fuck the rest of it up. Every little thing you do creates a multitude of things you didn’t do, and THAT is what makes all the difference. To quote our main character Jason Dessen:
I can’t help thinking that we’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.
This book moves very quickly and if you’re not careful you will devour it all in one sitting. It’s not that it’s an easy book to read, you just won’t want to put it down because it’s so fast-paced that you absolutely must find out what happens next. I almost agree with some of the criticisms that it never slowed down enough for me to grasp the enormity of what was happening, but honestly I was smart enough to understand what happened when I hit the twist. I can’t say this enough: if you are a human being with any size collection of regrets you want to read this book. It is absolutely eye-opening and amazing, and the great thing is that you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out what the professionals had to say. 🙂
NPR did an interview with Blake Crouch about the book that you can hear here.
New York Times review here.