Genre: Science fiction, thriller
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
Rating out of five: four stars
This is a thriller, playing on a scenario that has always haunted me of trying to find your way back home. Still it’s difficult to recommend or talk about this book without spoiling it. So I’m just going to say reading this book is like watching a movie in the way it’s written and even if the book is called “dark matter” the physics parts of it isn’t something you need to know or be interested in to enjoy it. If the synopsis sounds interesting and you are in to read about some kidnapping and weird and absurd, out of the ordinary things, this is a good book. If you are in the mood to question your existence and life, this book didn’t really feel that deep.
So we have our main character Jason Dessen being kidnapped by famous scientist Jason Dessen who have managed to find a way to send him to his alternative universe, so that they can switch lives and places. Multiple universes exist btw. It’s a really shitty plan, first of all, especially for one who’s supposed to be a genius. It was also obvious pretty early on what had happened, that he was kidnapped by himself.
The visuals I got from this book, of a person running down corridors trying to find his home world and getting nowhere was so satisfying and creepy. The “uncanny valley” feeling of meeting a world that’s similiar to your own, but small details doesn’t match up until you realize it’s not yours is horrifying. My own nightmare would be trying to escape and find that your surroundings are endless and not-changing, you’re stuck in a pattern or world. This book reflects that very well. Another thing that’s taken straight out of my nightmares is the part where Jason Dessen slowly comes to terms with being in another universe in the first place and others trying to get him commited to an psychiatric ward by force. With all the worlds and scenarios Jason meets, like his family dying in front of him in this apocalyptic world of illness, I had to like this book. Even if it’s a bit of every cliche movie thrown in a pot and crossing fingers that it will be fast-paced enough for the reader not to question it.
Still, this book also feels like a smart stupid TV show, that tries to appear brilliant until you dig deeper. To be fair, I am interested in physics, but have never looked deeply into the multiple universe theory. This book is not reality bending, question inducing, it does not make me think deeply about my existence or life like it tries to market itself as. But it’s still fun & horrifying, it’s absurd and action-filled.
Especially towards the end it becomes apparent that not every question is going to be asked or answered, that the action has taken priority over pondering about what this means about the universe and worlds, even though most of the versions of Jason Dessen are scientists. As Jason Dessen the main character meets the other versions of Jason Dessen, a few moral questions are brought up in who should be able to get back to the wife and if it’s unmoral to kill each other. They have varying views on that. But the time-limit created by the action and the versions hunting each other doesn’t give possiblities to dive into things like who the “real Jason Dessen” is and what that means. Or really the fact that the famous real physics scientist version of him chose to kidnap “our” Jason and why. All the other versions of Jason doesn’t seem as alive and three-dimensional, when at least some of them shouldn’t really be that much different.
I really wanted to know what happened to the nurse after she left. I was happy for her when she found out Jason’s mission wouldn’t get her anywhere safe. So I felt some connection to the characters, even though I found myself liking Jason less and less throughout the book. I felt that all the alternative world-hopping could’ve changed him more and been a good way for character development, but in the end I don’t get what changed and how he found the right universe. The sole focus of getting back to his family is understandable, but also boring after a while.
What I was feeling reading this book: excited about the action and absurd parts, sometimes seeing my own nightmares played out