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From the New York Times best-selling author of Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines trilogy comes a relentless thriller about time, identity, and memory - his most ambitious, mind-boggling, irresistible work to date.
“An action-packed, brilliantly unique ride that had me up late and shirking responsibilities until I had devoured the last page...a fantastic read.” (Andy Weir, number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Martian)
Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome - a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease - a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?
The Audiobookworm's Review
Rating: 4 Stars
What. A. Whirlwind.
I heard and devoured Dark Matter by Blake Crouch two years ago, so I didn't wait very long after the release of Recursion to begin listening. Blake Crouch tackles science fiction in such a tactile manner, that it becomes extremely easy for novices such as myself to digest and appreciate all the science fiction-y goodness, or as Doctor Who would put it "Timey Wimey" stuff.
Also Recursion doesn't exactly deal with time travel, it's more of an alternate universe (AU) deal, similar to Dark Matter. Even so, it's enough to make your head hurt. I'd be willing to bet a hefty amount that no one on this planet fully understands the concept of time travel or alternate universe theory and all the intricacies that accompany it. Yet, Crouch does a well enough job of keeping the reader/listener up to speed on his spin on the concept. Is it flawless? No. Do I have more questions than answers? Probably.
Crouch does something a lot of other science fiction authors missed the memo on: He includes his audience in the explorations. He doesn't assume that we all have a certain level of knowledge about these things. His novels are extremely digestible for the average partaker and I say this as an average partaker (and someone who watches Doctor Who, for whatever that's worth). I was able to breeze through the first 3/4 of Recursion with minimal head scratching and while my focus was divided most of the time (because what audio listener doesn't multitask?). As far as science-fiction goes, this is among the most reader-friendly stuff I've come across.
Although I think I enjoyed Dark Matter just a tad bit more, I can see how Crouch's style has slightly changed since his last release. My largest complaint with Dark Matter was that I felt like Crouch had written himself into a literary corner and the climax was a little underwhelming. With Recursion, Crouch seemed to over correct. He again found himself in that literary corner (which George RR Martin knows all about), but this time the ending was overly dramatic and unnecessarily prolonged.
He had me until the last quarter of the book. Part Four got weird. It was a redundant pattern of disaster after disaster and I got tired of it pretty quickly. It actually seemed to slow the book down, even though the pacing was the same. The repetition of events, à la Groundhog Day, got quickly became old and exhausting and I was just ready for a resolution and the end of the book by then. The resolution, when it came, it was definitely underwhelming. There hadn't been a lot of explanatory build up for it, so it kind of came out of left field. No matter, I was glad that it came at all. Crouch's imaginings of various apocalyptic resolutions were inventive and intriguing, I just think he had too many of them.
I enjoyed the first 3/4 enough that the slogging last quarter can be filed away as irrelevant. I'll definitely still be picking up any Blake Crouch novels to come. I enjoy the way he writes science fiction and I'm hoping he's still figuring out how to untangle these seeming "plot knots" he creates. He writes some of the most digestible science fiction out there, so I definitely recommend Recursion and Dark Matter to SciFi newbies and anyone else who doesn't critique the genre too seriously.
Narration review: Recursion was a dual narration from Jon Lindstrom and Abby Craden. Although I've never heard anything from either of them before, I wouldn't hesitate to listen to either of them again. Both narrators did an excellent job. I would've listened to it even if Recursion was single narration, but having two narrators was a perfect fit. It made the alternating chapters, POVs, and simultaneous timelines much easier to follow. That can't be emphasized enough. Anything narrators and audiobook producers can do to make this sort of plot easier on the listener is always appreciated. For that reason alone, I 100% recommend Recursion on audiobook. ♣︎