Review: Dark Matter

Dark MatterBy Blake Crouch

Macmillan, out August 11

Jason Dessen awakes to find himself in a very different world from the one he knows…

Blake Crouch is probably best known to UK audiences as the writer of the trilogy of novels that formed the basis for Fox’s Wayward Pines (or at least the first season of it), but he’s written a large number of other books as well. Dark Matter is his latest standalone tale, and has received advance praise from a number of writers (mostly outside the genre) for its novelty.

This is nothing to do with the Syfy series of the same name. It’s a tale of the multiverse that tries to put certain theoretical principles into effect, aiming for the combination of hard science and driving plot at the heart of the fiction of writers such as Robert J. Sawyer. It certainly does have some new twists, at least in the very final portion, but prior to that it’s covering ground that John Wyndham did in his 1961 short story Random Quest (filmed as Quest for Love with Joan Collins, and the basis of an Out of the Unknown episode and a BBC Four play), C.S. Lewis did way back in the first chronological Narnia story, The Magician’s Nephew, the TV series Sliders did throughout its run, and even Wayward Pines itself!

It’s certainly true that, as advertised, this is a fast-paced story, adhering to the James Patterson school of single sentence paragraphs, which makes the book seem a lot bulkier than it actually is. There’s a lot of telling, rather than showing, of the core relationship – and, very oddly, the odd jump into a third-person relaying of one of the other worlds that could have been used to foreshadow some of the events of the final act. There are a number of loose ends at the book’s conclusion; these may hint at a sequel, but I’m not sure I’d want to spend any more time with Jason.

Verdict: Unfortunately nowhere near as original or absorbing as it could be. 5/10

Paul Simpson


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