By Blake Crouch
ARC paperback, 340 pages
ISBN: 9781101904220 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Jason Dessen enjoys his life, his time with his family, his job, though maybe he takes these things for granted, as maybe many of us do. Then he’s held at gunpoint, given a mysterious drug, and wakes up in a strange hangar surrounded by unfamiliar people who are very familiar with him. He’s still Jason Dessen, but single, and a successful scientist working on a groundbreaking device that he was the first to successfully navigate. Are his memories of his wife and son merely a dream? Has he gone crazy? Could both lives be real? Jason will go to extreme measures to regain the life he considers to be a reality and make incredible discoveries along the way.
Ahem. Let me compose myself.
Without going into a lot of detail about the plot, I’ll say this book deals with the idea that there are an infinite number of realities (or universes) based on every choice we make, or don’t make, and that versions of ourselves inhabit each of these universes. Jason navigates some of these universes and encounters some of these realities in his quest to return “home.”
I’ll come right out and say I know nothing about the science behind the theory Crouch uses in his book, nor did I understand much of what Jason explained in regards to how it worked, but I’m willing to suspend disbelief and take his word that multiple realities are plausible. Thankfully there isn’t too much jargon, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed and I get the feeling the casual reader isn’t supposed to understand the finer points of how this plays out.
I find it mind boggling to think there could be an infinite number of versions of myself and my life, all similar and yet, so different. If I met my other selves, would I still think of them as me? Would I like what I discovered? What parts of us change based on the myriad of decisions we make daily? Jason wonders what his “essential self” is (personally I’m not sure if something like that can truly be defined) and for his character, his family certainly plays a large part.
But even Jason’s desire to be back with the exact copies of his wife and son that he considers part of “his reality” doesn’t define him. Each iteration of Jason cares for his wife and son, but in different ways, and they behave differently in order to reach them.
The action and pacing were solid. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn’t help but root for “Jason1” as I thought about what would happen if I woke up and my life was suddenly replaced with an alternate version and my family was changed or non-existent.
I don’t often read deeply, but I do get excited when sci-fi (or any genre, I suppose) really gets me thinking and has me questioning my reality. This book doesn’t just address the big choices, like who you married or having a child or not, but the little ones as well, like going to the bar after work or going straight home. From each choice branch new choices, all leading to other realities and versions of yourself that are slightly (or not so slightly) altered.
I am definitely interested in reaching more of Crouch’s work and I highly suggest this action packed book if sci-fi thrillers are what you’re into!
I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
You can visit Blake’s website here. He’s also on Twitter and Facebook.