By: Blake Crouch
Science Fiction, Thriller
Published: June 11th, 2019
From the Cover:
Memory makes reality.
That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
That’s what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.
As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?
This was my first Blake Crouch novel, and it was a treat. I don’t think I have ever read a book before that has challenged my mind and attention to detail as much as this one did. Recursion is one of those books that moves lightning fast with extensive details and complex ideas. These ideas are things beyond one’s own imagination, taking the reader on a ride through a reality that is beyond comprehension. It took me awhile (and required me to re-read several paragraphs over again) to fully grasp what was transpiring; in some ways I still feel as though I didn’t fully grasp the concepts Crouch introduces.
Crouch brings the reader into a reality in which an individual is able to travel back in time to change present or past events from occurring. However, when the individual reaches the moment in time in which an event was changed, everyone associated with the event begins to experience fractured memory: on one hand, they vividly experience this new reality, but on the other hand they have a vague but real recollection of the original experience. As the main characters try to use this secret time-traveling tool to right the wrongs of history, the world around them begins to fracture. People everywhere are re-living their own deaths, the deaths of loved ones, terrorist attacks, etc. As one might expect, this does not end well and the main characters have to race against time to set things right–if it’s even possible.
What I appreciated about Crouch’s science fiction writing is that there is depth and emotion to the story. I felt engaged with and emotionally connected to the characters. This is not something that I have found is common among the science fiction genre. Additionally, his writing felt so real that it didn’t read like fiction. It made me experience the book on a more personal level. I have to give Crouch significant credit for conceiving such an incredible plot and being able to execute it just as brilliantly.
If you like a mentally challenging but engaging read, this one is for you. The only thing keeping me from giving it a perfect review is that I felt almost as if this book crosses over into a territory that makes it out of reach for the average reader. It doesn’t necessarily involve quantum physics per se, but the concepts are challenging to grasp and understand initially and even as the book unfolds. I have heard great things about Crouch’s other renowned novel Dark Matter, which I may just have to add to my reading list now.