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review 2019-01-24 00:50
Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

I thought this was a really unique, dark & twisty read, and I loved it! Crouch has a way of talking about these huge intricate things but in a really down-to-earth way that makes it seamless to follow right along. It was really fast paced and it honestly kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Surprisingly romantic in a really weird/frightening/fantastic way too lol. I definitely see why so many people were raving about this one.


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text 2019-01-23 18:44
Reading progress update: I've read 176 out of 352 pages.
Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

Did I just become a scientist? Lol I love that Crouch makes you feel as if you're actually smart enough to kinda grasp the idea of a multiverse and how to traverse it.


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text 2019-01-11 06:53
Reading progress update: I've read 352 out of 352 pages.
Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

I said in my last post that I was finding this a quick read and it was. I slowed down once I got past the standard preliminary stuff, much of which left me worried that it presaged a predictable novel. Thank goodness I was wrong.


Blake Crouch's novel is centered around Jason Dessen, a brilliant physicist who is living a happy yet mundane life as a college professor in Chicago with a loving wife and son. Then someone in a mask shows up, drugs him, shoves him in a metal box in an abandoned factory . . . and Dessen wakes up in a lab where he is greeted expectantly after an absence of over a year. It quickly becomes clear that this is isn't his life but the life of another Dessen, one whose professional success has led to a breakthrough of frightening possibilities, all of which Dessen would trade in a heartbeat for a chance to return to his old life.


That's the premise in a nutshell, anyhow. It's not terribly original, but it gets better thanks to some turns Crouch takes that keep raising the stakes. And at the end there's a line that may by a little spoiler-y (though more likely incomprehensible without some context) that earned Crouch's book another half-star from me:

"Look," I say, "I've tried to explain to you how the box works, but forget all that for a minute. Here's the thing. The box isn't all that different from life, If you go in with fear, fear is what you'll find."

I love encountering obvious-yet-profound points when I read novels like this, because they're little gifts in that they're unexpected reminders of important truths. And this is an especially good one that I need to keep in mind when I'm facing some of the oppressive stuff in my own life, no matter how bad it can get.

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review 2018-12-09 01:49
Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch


I liked this book a lot up until there were over 100 SPOILER!! [Jason's], then it got a lot ridiculous. So 4 stars for 80% of the book.

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review 2018-10-06 10:41
"Dark Matter" by Michelle Paver - novel filled with dread - highly recommended
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

"Dark Matter" is a ghost story of the kind only a master storyteller can get right. The sense of bone-deep, hair-raising, hope-defeating dread builds with a slow inexorability that is almost too much to endure.


It is a book that seems at first to about the atmosphere of a place and the state of mind of an individual producing an unshakable uneasiness. This defensive explanation of fear as a product of the confluence of nature and character turns out to be too brittle to stand against the truth: the presence of something deeply malevolent, unrelentingly vengeful and entirely supernatural.


"Dark Matter" tells, mostly in journal form, the story of a 1937 British scientific expedition to the Arctic that ended disastrously.


The journal writer is Jack Miller a lower-middle-class man who sees himself as having, through no fault of his own, "missed his chance" to make a career. At twenty-seven, to change his life, he signs on to be the radio operator for a five-man Arctic expedition, made up of privileged, Harrow and Oxford educated young men, none of whom have any Arctic experience.


Michelle Paver uses the journal format with great skill to let us see what the journal writer sees and all the things that he doesn't see because he takes them for granted or they sit in a blind spot created by ignorance or inexperience.


In the early parts of the journal Jack is focused on the differences between himself and his upper-class companions, yet I was struck most by how similar they all are in their innocent unpreparedness and their unconscious sense of invulnerability.  These young men are unable to imagine the reality of the terrible power of a winter. Although they have no experience of the Arctic, they are confident that, with the right kit, some teamwork and a bit of pluck, they can conquer it. This combination of ignorance, self-confidence and wealth is probably one of the most lethal forces on the planet.


The expedition is dogged by bad luck from the beginning, so that, by the time they are encamped in the Arctic, Jack is accompanied only by Gus the charismatic leader of the expedition, Algie Gus' annoying, huntin'-shootin'-fishin' best friend winter and a pack of huskies. As full winter arrives, events conspire to leave Jack alone for a time with the darkness, the dogs and a nameless malevolent presence.


The power of this book comes from the quality of the writing, which subtly creates and sustains an atmosphere of creeping dread, one small scene at a time, letting your imagination fall slowly into the endless dark of an Arctic night until you feel the overwhelming isolation of being alone in a deadly cold darkness so silent you can hear yourself blink. Then Michelle Paver cranks up the horror by introducing an awareness of a manifest evil, a dread that is nameless only because daring to name it would make it too real to be borne. 


There is one journal entry that describes Jack becoming lost in fog on Halloween night, a short distance from the cabin he can no longer see. Nothing happens. Probably. Yet the passage held more fear in it than any confrontation with a monster could have produced.


I found the ending of the story very satisfying. There we no shortcuts and no cheap thrills, only the knowledge of how evil, once met, changes the lives of everyone it touches.


My enjoyment of the story was greatly increased by Jeremy Northam's skilled narration. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear an extract.


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117937492" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]


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