Run-on Sentence Summary
This alternate realities science fiction thriller takes a great premise and squanders it on pandering, one dimensional characters.
I picked up Dark Matter when I saw that it is a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads book awards in the science fiction category. From the cover, it promised to be a mind-bending thriller that would question my notions of reality and take a hard look at how all the choices I make shape my life.
The main character, Jason Dessen, gave up a promising career in quantum physics to become the quintessential family man. Without giving too much away, he gets sucked down the rabbit hole and then has to endure a Odyssean quest to get back to his family.
The science fiction premise in the book doesn’t even make a decent attempt at scientific accuracy (something something Schrodinger’s cat, something something parallel worlds!) I don’t want to be that guy, so I happily let that slide to be able to explore the philosophical implications of the scenario. Unfortunately, Crouch seems more interested in writing an entertaining thriller novel than seeing his science fiction plot elements through.
Worse, none of the character’s motivations make any sense. The main character is supposedly a genius physicist and is handed the keys to explore any possible universe, and he never even shows the slightest hint of curiosity! All he wants is to get back to his family. He is more boring than relatable. This, more than anything else, causes the story to unravel for me.
To me, Dark Matter was nothing more than a pulp thriller novel wrapped in a veneer of scifi babble.
“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.”