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review 2017-09-07 17:23
Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016)
Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

I was introduced with the concept of the multiverse and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics by way of the television series Sliders (1995-2000). In the series, we met four travelers traversing the seemingly unlimited worlds of the multiverse and trying to get back home. I found the concept intriguing and when a story touches upon parallel worlds I grab it and watch or read it (as evidenced by my last book review). But, this review is not for Sliders (I will post reviews of its episodes when I start my rewatch.), this is a review for Dark Matter, a 2016 science fiction-thriller book, by Blake Crouch, which, like Sliders, features the multiverse.

 

The book revolves around Jason Dessen, a college physics professor, a husband and a father. He was abducted one night and then woke up and found out that he is now a famous scientist, just like he always dreamed, but he is not married to his wife and his son was never been born. Realizing that this is not his world, he will find a way to get home to his wife and son by passing through world after world.

 

The definitely liked how the pace of the story. Though this is a science fiction book, you need not know the complexity of quantum mechanics and neurology to follow the plot, although I appreciated the well placed info dumps. There is also a romantic aspect to it by way of Jason’s love to his wife Daniela, this love fuels Jason’s desire to get home. I found the scenes on their romance a bit off. Just a bit.

 

I might get spoil something (but not the book’s ending) on this next section.

 

The many-worlds interpretation implies that all possible alternate histories are real, each realized in their own world in their corner of the multiverse.

It’s terrifying when you consider that every thought we have, every choice we could possibly make, branches off into a new world.

In this book, the alternate world branched off fifteen years ago when Jason faced a decision: to continue the relationship and build a family with Daniela or to continue his work as a scientist and make a breakthrough. I always play the “What if” game, what if I did this, what if that happened. In the end of the game I always tell myself, at least somewhere in the multiverse a version of me will get what he wanted. In life there is no do-overs – there are no time machines, yet — but it is harmless to dream once in a while.

 

I liked how the main conflict of the book was written. I was surprised because I haven’t seen the branching of worlds affecting the main character on other multiverse stories.

 

Quick rating: I very much loved it.

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review 2017-09-04 17:37
Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver - My Thoughts
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

This book is pretty much outside my comfort zone.  Atmospheric ghost stories aren't something I'm drawn to and the only reason I read this one was because a good friend said it was one of the best books she'd ever read. 

I will admit that it is a well-written book and it catches you from the get-go, but I also have to say that I totally disliked the main character for the first 1/3rd of the story.   And that's a big deal when the book is written for the most part as a journal.  I never truly liked him though.  I was also glad that the book was only a little over 200 pages.

Did it work as a ghost story?  Yes.  It evoked the spooky, solitary world of the Arctic quite well and the loneliness was genuinely depicted.  (Can I say that?  It sounds odd.) The thoughts and musings of Jack, the main character were very believable and I finally came to find him somewhat sympathetic and thus grew concerned for his well-being for the duration of the book. 

Now, the book is set in 1937 and it FEELS like 1937 which is just fine.  Some things, were they said/done today would be found quite ... unacceptable?  But that's how things were in 1937.  I'm OK with that.  The book was published in 2010 but quite honestly, it felt like it could have been released back in the 30s or 40s.  And seeing as it's a journal for the most part, I'd say that's a success. 

The book is very British.  Good thing too, seeing as it's main characters are British.  :)  I think it would make a terrific spooky movie.  No blood & gore that is so popular these days, but a truly mind-fucking suspenseful movie.

So yes, good book.  I would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys ghost stories and spooky stuff.  I see why my friend loved it so much. That's not my bag, though, so it gets a bit of a lower rating because of that. 

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review 2017-08-14 19:27
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Dark Matter - Blake Crouch,Jon Lindstrom

I was afraid to start this, truth be told, because I read many reviews that said it was very mind-bending, confusing, and scientific. I was really afraid it would break my brain.  I am happy to report that now that I’ve finished my brain is no more broken than it was before I began Dark Matter. So if you’ve been hesitant to read this based on those on rumors, have no worries. It is not in any way shape or form a horror novel however so if you’re expecting that you will be disappointed. It’s more of a character based thriller and a pretty awesome one at that.

 

I will not go so far as to say that I understood the mechanics behind everything, especially at the turn of mind-boggling events in the last act, but I can say that it never slowed down the book for me or left me hopelessly lost in a sea of scientific jibber-jabber. I wanted to keep going because it was exciting and captivating and all of those delicious things and mostly because I grew to care about the characters so much.

 

I’m not saying anything about the plot because everyone else has done that already but also because I am lazy and you will enjoy this most going in cold, if you still can.  Just read it. It’s good stuff!

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review 2017-03-30 00:40
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (Hinges of History #4)
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter - Thomas Cahill

The foundations of what we call Western culture today seemingly sprung from one place, Greece, yet that is not the entire truth.  Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, the fourth volume of Thomas Cahill’s Hinges of History, examines and explains the structure of Greek society and ideas as well as the reasons why it has permeated so much of what we know of Western culture.  But Cahill’s answer to why the Greeks matter is two-fold.

 

Over the course of 264 pages of text, Cahill looks at all the features of Greek culture that made them so different from other ancient cultures.  Through the study of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Cahill examined the Greek’s view of war and honor in their grand war epic then how the same man expressed how the Greek’s expressed their feelings.  The contradiction of the Homeric works is part of a larger theme that Cahill explores in Greek poetry beyond Homer, politicians and playwrights, philosophers, and artists.  Throughout each chapter, Cahill examines what the Greeks did differently than anyone else as well as relate examples that many will know.  Yet Cahill reveals that as time went on the Greeks own culture started to swallow itself until stabilized by the Romans who were without the Greek imagination and then merged with newly developing Christian religion that used Greek words to explain its beliefs to a wider world; this synthesis of the Greco-Roman world and Judeo-Christian tradition is what created Western thought and society that we know today.

 

Cahill’s analysis and themes are for the general reader very through-provoking, but even for someone not well versed in overall Greek scholarship there seems to be something missing in this book.  Just in comparing previous and upcoming volumes of Cahill’s own series, this book seems really short for one covering one of the two big parts of Western Civilization.  Aside from the two chapters focused around the Homeric epics, all the other chapters seemed to be less than they could be not only in examples but also in giving connections in relevance for the reader today.

 

For the Western society in general, the Greeks are remembered for their myths, magnificent ruins, and democracy.  Thomas Cahill’s Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea does reveal that ancient Greece was more than that and why a culture millennia old matters to us today.  While not perfect, this book is at least a good read for the general reader which may be what Cahill is aiming for but for those more well read it feels lacking once finished.

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review 2017-02-28 00:49
I Ended Up Missing Futurama
Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

Honestly I think that for the most part I was bored by this book. I think the fact that I am a girl that has grown up reading Stephen King, none of the plot points in this book were surprising to me.

 

Dark Matter follows the character of Jason Dessen after he is abducted by a mysterious man in a mask and finds himself in a place that's familiar but is altogether different than the world he is use to. Jason spends most of the book trying to find his way back to his beloved wife and son. I do wish that I've got a better sense of Jason I feel like Crouch did not do a good job developing him. The only thing that this book is focused on is Jason and his family. And I think the way that his wife is elevated into this book into this prize is just a bit off-putting but thank goodness Crouch redeems himself in the end with that whole storyline.

 

We do get an interesting side character that is Jason's companion throughout his adventure but then disappears halfway through the book which disappointed me. I had so many questions left about this character and what their ultimate fate was.

 

Jason's wife Dani unfortunately wasn't developed as much as I needed her to be. We get glimmers of this character's strength, her ability to see beauty, her artistic ability, but I needed more if I had gotten more I think this would have easily been a 4-star book.

 

I thought that the mysterious man was kind of a joke because I kind of called who this had to be and once again this person's justifications for what they did was total crap. I kind of rolled my eyes a bunch thousand since all this book did was made me long for Futurama who did better with this same type of dilemma.

 

I kept waiting for this infamous twist that everybody kept talking about and it just was kind of a joke to me. Anybody that has watch Futurama would have definitely gotten there before the main character did.

 

 

I do think that though the overall plot was interesting, I wish that Crouch had pushed things a little bit more. I wanted to see more darkness in the story.

 

The writing was okay I think Crouch tried to explain the science behind this whole book, but I am always of the mindset that you don't need to over explain things to readers, it just often leaves you with plot holes like I saw by the time I got to the end of this book. The flow was really off after about one third of the book and it didn't really adjust itself until almost the very end.

 

The book taking place in Chicago was interesting to me and I really do wish that Crouch had use the setting a little bit better. He initially did use Chicago very well in the first couple of chapters and then it just kind of became a backdrop with nothing behind it. I could almost see this being staged in a theater somewhere and you would see a backdrop and the words with Chicago written on it to represent the city.

 

The ending is I think supposed to leave you with hope but all I did was leave me with more questions than answers.

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