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Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch (4/5)

10 May

This was for sure my pick for a buddy read. I loved Courch’s first book, Dark Matter. I was curious to see what else he had up his sleeve. My reading buddy was up for a bit of a thriller so this seemed like a good pick for us both. Man, did we speed through this one. I think we met twice in a week at one point because we were both so eager to keep reading.


Cover image via Amazon

Recrusion by Blake Crouch

Other books by Crouch reviewed on this blog:

Dark Matter (and Book Club Reflection)

Summary from Amazon:

Reality is broken.
At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery—and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.
In New York City, Detective Barry Sutton is closing in on the truth—and in a remote laboratory, neuroscientist Helena Smith is unaware that she alone holds the key to this mystery . . . and the tools for fighting back.
Together, Barry and Helena will have to confront their enemy—before they, and the world, are trapped in a loop of ever-growing chaos.

Having not read the summary, I thought this was going to be about a contagious disease early on and I wondered what I’d stumbled into. Maybe the later half of a global pandemic wasn’t the best time for this? But the more we got into it and realized what FMS was and what was really going on, the more we were sucked in. The first half of the book is told from two view points, Helena and Barry. They’re not in the same place or in the same year but we quickly discovered how interlinked their stories would be. Crouch’s exploration of reality and what would realistically happen with new technology is really well done. I thought the reactions of many people were completely justified and Crouch’s ideas about the impact of a broken reality on the human psyche was great.

I adored Helena. She was so strong and brave and I respected her so much throughout this book. She was a great hero to be cheering for throughout. Her intelligence was forefront but usually understand which let her personality shine through. Barry seemed a little flat, but in a thriller I’m not usually looking for strong personalities in characters.

Helena was my favorite character. Her motivations, at least early on, were very noble and were always to help her mother. Her motivations changed to be for a greater good and she really expressed that when working for DARPA. She recognized ramifications and how what she was dealing with was so much larger than herself. She was a voice of reason and good when everything was going badly.

Barry was the most relatable character in the book. I’m sure most of us have something in our pasts that we wish we could fix or redo. Barry’s desires to have a different life were very understandable and I thought back to decisions in my own life that I might like a ‘do-over’ for.


Blake Crouch Image via Goodreads

These next two paragraphs are going to be some major spoilers so please skip down to avoid them. I adored the time Helena spent working with DARPA. I thought it was really great how she fought to use the chair for good. She was backed against a wall but found the best way to make use of her position. Fighting to let major atrocities happen, pushing not to let large passages of time occur, these things made a difference. I was so sad when the project got hijacked by the military. It really seemed to ruin everything.

The ending was a bit anti-climactic for me. Slade telling Barry that Helena had found a way to travel to dead memories once and then Barry instantly figuring it out was a little too convenient. It was hard to believe that in 200 years, Helena had never tried visiting a dead memory again. Especially since she could jump back an hour and ‘fix’ the problem the same way Slide did with Reed on the oil rig. Such a simple solution to a very complex problem made the ending seem cheap.

Humans are starting to experience reality in different ways because of technology. We’ve developed virtual reality, online worlds that can fulfill social needs and desires. The idea that we may someday master time enough to change that aspect of our reality is jarring but not entirely out of the question. If we did get to this technology, what would we do with it? Would it be weaponized like Helena and Barry experienced? Would it be used for good the way Helena tried to do with her mother’s memories? It’s a hard question to answer. Humans do seem to be inclined to selfishly using every advancement our world has made so as much as we’d love to say it would be the latter, the former seems likely.

Writer’s Takeaway: Crouch put his foot on the throttle and never let it go. The pace in this book was astounding and kept me guessing and turning pages well past my bed time. Thriller writers have an amazing capacity to pace a book and I feel like I’m getting schooled each time I read one.

A great, fast, read that made me think. Four out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

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