Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – TwoMorePages Book Review

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – TwoMorePages Book Review

Hoooh boy, that was a fun adventure. First off, kudos to my friend Arielle for coming up with this book with absolutely NO hesitation when I asked her what I should read next.

The twists and turns were amazing entertaining, as well as thought out and logical, and I am so happy I took the time to read this book.

 

That was…a thrilling rabbit hole we just fell through. Can’t talk more without spoiling shit, so HERE WE GO:

Twist #1

A fine, red mist blinds me for half a second, and Daniela sits on the sofa, a hole dead center between her big, dark eyes.

-The book

One moment, life is great, and aww, isn’t it cute that they still have all this chemistry in what looks to be an alternate universe and then… ‘Wait, that blood red mist is HER BLOOD?!’ AAAAGH

-Me

I am so glad I made you read that. 😛

-Arielle

Yeah, so this book was rather traumatizing at times. Thanks Arielle. Probably the best part about this book for me was the stuff that came out of left field while propelling the plot forward. It really gave you a sense of the confusion that the protagonist felt while trying to figure out what the hell was going on; and the shocking events that the book pivoted around were done so well that I was as surprised as I was during GoT during the Red Wedding or during the Viper v Mountain fight.

…also, just as horrified.

So the above reaction from me is when Daniela in the other universe gets SHOT IN THE HEAD with no warning or provocation, right after our protagonist finally seems to be a little happy again after getting transported to a world that he doesn’t seem to know and that he doesn’t understand. It did an exceptional job of highlighting the confusion that Jason was going through, and the panic running through his mind.

Before this, I had been wondering “Why did you flip out when you woke up in that lab and run away? Everyone was acting nicely to you; why didn’t you just explain and figure out what was going on?” but this flipped the entire script on its head for me, which set up the next part of the story really well.

Twist #2

Okay, so now we’ve established the guys at Velocity Labs are bad guys, and now they’re pissed at our protagonist. They’ve murdered our buddy Ryan, who incidentally, totally had it coming for his part in getting Daniela killed, pffft, and look like they’re about to kill us. We seem to have had some connection with this girl Amanda, who works for the labs, but whatever probably not important.

Except it is! She gets us out of here, we figure out that this box actually transports you to other alternate universes, and we start a brand new adventure!

Up to this point, I had entertained the notion that we were looking at alternate universes, and that he’d swapped with one of his other selves, but wasn’t 100% sure. Having it spelled out was a nice surprise, and boom, scoreboard? haha.

Reading Jason’s adventures was a fun story in and of itself, and his adventures changed the tone of the book to a slightly more hopeful, if increasingly desperate tone. No more running around, not really understanding what was going on; now we’re basically doing Sliders adventures trying to find our home universe.

Amanda

There’s a connection here, and it’s getting stronger every day. If I moved even an inch closer in her direction, we would do this. No question in my mind.

Some version of me certainly kissed her in this moment. Some version knows the answer. But it won’t be me.

-The book

Another great thing this book did was to raise the hopes of a reader for a specific outcome…that never happens. *sob*

Going through the different portal doors, we saw our protagonist, Jason, grow ever closer to his rescuer, Amanda. I thought the book was going to end in Jason never finding his home universe, but growing closer to his travel companion with each adventure and then…eventually accepting his fate and just living happily ever with Amanda. I mean, Daniela seems to be okay with imposter Jason; I suppose everyone could win if original Jason ends up with Amanda.

But nooooope! He has to blow it, and he almost gets her killed in the one universe that has a giant plague, as well as the one where everything has frozen over.

So…she eventually leaves him, and that just…broke my heart more than a little.

Twist #3

All your life you’re told you’re unique. An individual. That no one on the planet is just like you. It’s humanity’s anthem.

But that isn’t true for me anymore.

-The Book

MULTIPLE JASONS? WHAAAAAAT?

So, twist 3 that I didn’t see coming, and that’s a little hard for me to wrap my head around: Every time we make an observable decision, a new universe is created. So when he gets back to his original universe, so does every other Jason that was able to make the correct set of choices to do so.

And they ALL want to get Daniella and Charlie back. Well, hmm, quite the kanundrum. As a result of their choices, some of the Jasons are murderous sons of bitches and our protagonist finds himself almost getting murdered several times.

This was a plot twist I definitely didn’t see coming. You could kind of see some of the other ones given enough clues; after all, I kind of thought about the multiple universe theory before it was explained, and we all knew that Velocity Labs had some serious firepower, so maybe I could have seen the murder of that one Daniela coming. But this? Awww damn. Way out of left field for me.

I really liked where the story went from here, between his (sometimes murderous, sometimes friendly) interactions with the other Jasons and his ultimately successful plot to be the first Jason to meet up with his wife and son again.

I didn’t really understand why there weren’t basically infinity Jasons all after Daniela and Charlie, but for the sake of moving the story forward, let’s just gloss over that.

The action sequences were really well written, and getting to read about his reunion with his wife and son was heartwarming.

Thoughts and Conclusions

(1) So if every observable choice makes a new fork with a new universe, that means there is at least one Jason out there that chose to just stick it out with Amanda. Good. Because only one Jason out of a bajillion of them ended up with a happy ending if they decided to go back for Daniela and Charlie. Poor guys.

It warms my heart to know that there is at least one set of Jasons and Amandas making the smart/easy/best choice and enjoying their lives. Really, that should have been a no brainer – the chances of him making it back to his universe in infinity universes was pretty much zero if you think about it. They should have just been focusing on finding a good world, like that futuristic one Amanda found, and making lives for themselves there.

(2) Jason’s a panicky son of a gun haha. He could have avoided all the murder if he’d just CALMED THE FUCK DOWN when he first appeared in Jason2’s universe. The people at the lab were obviously willing to work with him and had no reason to hurt him; he complicated everything by running away.

Also, in the same vein, Jason2 is a panicky guy too. He could have straight up TOLD Jason his plan, and maybe Jason would have gone along with it. Or at least, then, wouldn’t freak the fuck out when he appeared in Jason2’s universe. Not enough of the book dealt with Jason2’s rationalization that they BOTH could have had what they wanted, the experience of a family AND scholarly success. IF ONLY THEY HAD TALKED.

(3) This book was awesome. The pacing was wonderful, the turns were unexpected and fit well within the story, and it was just a straight up fun read. Thanks Arielle, and thanks for putting up with my reactionary texts while I was running through the story!

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Evergreen – TwoMorePages Book Review

Evergreen – TwoMorePages Book Review

So I took a break from reading The Expanse and space sci-fi novels to read something original by a prominent writer from /r/writingprompts . That sub is actually what got me interested in reading again, so why not right? I saw a post by one of the authors who had turned one of the prompts into a full blown story, and was intrigued. After all, the premise seemed cool:

Instead of the oceans covering the earth, forests are in its place, making it possible to walk from continent to continent. Like oceans, it gets deeper and darker and creatures get more aggressive and rarer to see. You are tasked to document a trek through one of the oceans of your choice

So how do I feel after having read it?

Frustrated. I am so incredibly frustrated at the ending of this book. It built up the tension so very well; the writing style was perfect to show how the main character seemed to be losing his mind and then…the book just ends without answering any of the questions it posed. Bah.

Looks like I’m not alone in my frustrations: https://www.reddit.com/r/JacksonWrites/comments/3r9ez6/evergreen_ending_what_happened/

In the thread above, a lot of people voice similar frustrations at being left at the end with all the mysteries basically unsolved. It’s…unpleasant.

But let’s talk about said mysteries, shall we? Perhaps we can come to some sort of conclusion. Spoilers start here.

Mystery people

So, let’s describe our problems. (1) People that started the expedition start disappearing and nobody remembers them; (2) people that didn’t start the expedition start appearing and everyone kind of acts like they’ve always been there. Weird, right?

I’d be content thinking they were hallucinations, but that they actually interact with our protagonists. You can take pictures of them, like Veronica, who actually ends up on a picture in Everett’s phone. They actually can interact with the world, like Emily, who definitely fiddles with things.

So okay, definitely not just in Everett’s mind. Plus, that wouldn’t explain how everyone who started the expedition would have the same shared hallucinations. Emily and Rachel basically appear out of nowhere, and everyone accepts that they’ve always been there, complete with false memories of things they’ve done together in the past. Plus, they’re able to interact with the world, manipulating objects (and people haha).

It’s in the water?

So, are they some kind of wood sprites or something? They’re able to travel in the dark zone with everyone, and they have distinct personalities, so they’re individuals. Let’s say they have the ability to manipulate memories. Emily seems very focused on making sure that Everett is always drinking water. Perhaps it’s something in the water that allows them the ability to alter memories?

Veronica seems like a different entity all together. She only appears in the dark zones, and even then, only in complete darkness. It seems like her raison d’etre is to distract Everett and pull him away from the rest of the group. She ultimately succeeds at the end of the book and that’s where it ends >.< , but nevertheless. So she’s definitely some kind of deep sea deep forest predator, and she too has the ability to influence thoughts. Still leaning towards water being the culprit there.

Final Thoughts

The book started slowly. I didn’t even know what genre of book I was reading at first haha, so I thought it was going to be some adventure series. I’m glad I was wrong. Like most books, once the action started picking up, I got more interested in seeing what happened next.

The author does a great job showing Everett’s descent into madness. Between his own inner monologue being like “Hey wait; what happened to Alex?” or “Do I know this girl?” and him having to repeat actions multiple times to make them happen, you get a definite sense of Everett questioning his own sanity. The tone was set really well.

But I personally am not a fan of mysteries being laid out and then unsolved. In the reddit thread above, the author says there are enough clues for us to figure it out ourselves, but that to me is a cop out. I read a story to be entertained, not to be frustrated. Bah.