I know it's only February, but this joker has taken a substantial lead in the race for my 2016 Book of the Year.
I've read and reviewed several of Blake Crouch's novels: the Wayward Pines series, Run, and Desert Places. I have yet to read a bad Crouch book. Up until I read Dark Matter, Run was my favorite. All that's changed now.
Dark Matter is, at its surface, a spec-fic thriller. The book is paced like a thriller, too. Gets the blood pumping, for sure. The significant difference between this novel and Crouch's other works is the depth of emotion, as this is Crouch's most mature novel to date. It tackles love and lust, partnership and loss. Due to the twisty nature of the plot, we're allowed to see all outcomes of a thought process that haunts many if not all of us: What might have been. And that's the strongest pull of this book.
Being able to hop through the varying possible outcomes of Jason's decisions was insanely enjoyable. I had so much fun following this character through door after door, never knowing what would come next. While this book has a bevy of tear-jerking scenes, it is well balanced with loads of action and dimension-hopping goodness. The Box is one of the better science fiction creations in recent years. In the world of fantasy contraptions, I'd rank it up there with Wells's time machine and LeMarchand's puzzle box. Because once that door closes, baby, it's a whole new world(s).
Blake Crouch is the Dean Koontz we Koontz fans miss reading. Speculative fiction written with raw emotion at break-neck speeds. This is not to say that Crouch is a mimic. Oh no. Crouch has his own unique voice, a voice so singular that I believe I could pick up one of his books and tell he wrote it even if I hadn't seen the byline. While his prose is brief, it carries the impact of a shotgun. He does not linger on superfluous detail. Every word has weight and purpose. And I dig that very much.
In summation: I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this book. Even though I received this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review, I will be buying the hardcover. Blake Crouch continues to grow as an author, and I'm all about supporting growth. I suggest you do the same. Highly recommended.
Final Judgment: Surgically-precise prose riding an emotional rollercoaster into another dimension.