‘Are you happy in your life?’
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before the man he’s never met smiles down at him and says, ‘Welcome back.’
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.
I’ve done it! What you might ask? Well I’ve only finally tackled this book I had for ages but which I’ve put off reading for so long. After having a very positive reading experience recently with my first sci-fi novel (Hold Back The Stars) I finally felt up to it to reading my beautiful paperback edition with red end papers of Dark Matter. The novel is way out of my comfort zone but it’s still somewhat of a thriller too so I was up for it.
The concept of the novel is based on the principle of Schrödinger’s cat (supposedly named Milton) who’s in two states at once, both death and alive at the same time before opening a box. In this novel it’s a different sort of dual nature which is most interesting and this is exactly what makes this book stand out of course. The question is: what if we had made a different choice, how would our life look like then? Would Jason be happier choosing for a career and making a revolutionary discovery or choosing to have offspring and spend the rest of his life teaching at a school? Jason is forced out of his life and into a different one where he made another choice and it felt like stepping into a Narnia-like wardrobe, only it wasn’t a wardrobe this time but a box. I was happy there weren’t any talking lions but the worlds Jason steps in were just as foreign and overall quite gloomy from the one we’re currently living in. I wasn’t too fond of this list of worlds that needed to be ticked off and I was quite happy when the story moved on from there and became more interesting for me with a mounting sense of tension. Can Jason find his way back to his family? And if he does what then? I didn’t exactly see a happy ending for him…
There were a few other struggles I had with this book. Some of the science talk went way over my head and thinking about it trying to see how that could really work with this multiplicity I think I only confused myself some more 🙂 so in the end I stopped trying. Jason also has a sidekick in part of the novel and it felt strange that this partner was missing in the most crucial part of the novel. I get that it’s about Jason and his family but I felt sympathy for this character and then suddenly I was left hanging, which I didn’t like so much. Last of all it was all pretty black and white, really good guy vs very bad guy, there was no room for nuance and I wish I could have liked both main characters, which would make it even more difficult to choose if Jason should return or not.
Overall it was very readable but not one I’d want to read again. I’m satisfied with the way it ended and it’s a stark reminder that we should consider ourselves very lucky, even if we don’t live in a perfect world, it could be much, much worse. On a personal level we should be aware of the choices we make, especially life-decisions, and not live with regrets.
I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.