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Dark Matter
Cover of Dark Matter
Dark Matter
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
A mindbending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy.
“Are you happy with your life?”

 
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
 
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
 
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 
 
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
 
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
 
Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.
A mindbending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy.
“Are you happy with your life?”

 
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
 
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
 
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 
 
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
 
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
 
Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***

    Copyright © 2016 Blake Crouch

    I love Thursday nights.

    They have a feel to them that’s outside of time.

    It’s our tradition, just the three of us—family night.

    My son, Charlie, is sitting at the table, drawing on a sketch pad. He’s almost fifteen. The kid grew two inches over the summer, and he’s as tall as I am now.

    I turn away from the onion I’m julienning, ask, “Can I see?”

    He holds up the pad, shows me a mountain range that looks like something on another planet.

    I say, “Love that. Just for fun?” “Class project. Due tomorrow.”

    “Then get back to it, Mr. Last Minute.”

    Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.

    No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic. Not just what happens, but how it happens: a sucker punch that comes at you out of nowhere, when you’re least expecting. No time to flinch or brace.

    The track lights shine on the surface of my wine, and the onion is beginning to sting my eyes. Thelonius Monk spins on the old turntable in the den. There's a richness to the analog recording I can never get enough of, especially the crackle of static between tracks. The den is filled with stacks and stacks of rare vinyl that I keep telling myself I'll get around to organizing one of these days.

    My wife, Daniela, sits on the kitchen island, swirling her almost­ empty wineglass in one hand and holding her phone in the other. She feels my stare and grins without looking up from the screen.

    "I know," she says. “I’m violating the cardinal rule of family night."

    "What's so important?" I ask.

    She levels her dark, Spanish eyes on mine. "Nothing."

    I walk over to her, take the phone gently out of her hand, and set it on the countertop.

    "You could start the pasta," I say.

    "I prefer to watch you cook."

    "Yeah?" Quieter: "Turns you on, huh?"

    "No, it's just more fun to drink and do nothing."

    Her breath is wine-sweet, and she has one of those smiles that seem architecturally impossible. It still slays me.

    I polish off my glass. "We should open more wine, right?"

    "It would be stupid not to."

    As I liberate the cork from a new bottle, she picks her phone back up and shows me the screen. "I was reading Chicago Magazine's re­ view of Marsha Altman's show."

    "Were they kind?"

    "Yeah, it's basically a love letter." "Good for her."

    "I always thought ..." She lets the sentence die, but I know where it was headed. Fifteen years ago, before we met, Daniela was a comer to Chicago's art scene. She had a studio in Bucktown, showed her work in a half dozen galleries, and had just lined up her first solo exhibition in New York. Then came life. Me. Charlie. A bout of crippling post­ partum depression.

    Derailment.

    Now she teaches private art lessons to middle-grade students.

    "It's not that I'm not happy for her. I mean, she's brilliant, she de­serves it all."

    I say, "If it makes you feel any better, Ryan Holder just won the Pavia Prize."

    "What’s that?"

    ''A multidisciplinary award given for achievements in the life and physical sciences. Ryan won for his work in neuroscience."

    "Is it a big deal?"

    "Million...

About the Author-
  • Blake Crouch is best known for the Wayward Pines trilogy, which has sold more than a million copies and was adapted into a prime-time event series on FOX. He lives in Colorado.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 2, 2016
    Excellent characterization and well-crafted tension do much to redeem the outlandish plot of this SF thriller from Crouch (the Wayward Pines trilogy). Jason Dessen, a quantum physicist, once had a brilliant research career ahead of him. But after a girlfriend’s unexpected pregnancy and the birth of a son, this future was derailed. Now Jason is a professor at a small Chicago college, content with his warm and loving family life until he’s abducted into a world in which his quantum many-worlds theory has become a fully realized technology for inter-dimensional transfer. In this world, Jason didn’t marry his girlfriend and never had a son. Jason is determined to get back to his family and his own world, but nefarious powers in the alternate reality conspire to stop him from revealing the criminal lengths they have gone to create the world-hopping technology. Crouch makes little attempt to justify the underlying science fiction MacGuffin, but a rousing and heartfelt ending will leave readers cheering. Agent: David Hale Smith, Inkwell Management.

  • Library Journal

    June 15, 2016

    With a beautiful wife, a great son, and a job teaching college physics, Jason Dessen is content with his life. Sure, he has a twinge of envy when he meets an old friend who has just won a prestigious science prize, but on the whole, he wouldn't trade his situation. Which makes it all the more horrible when someone takes that existence from him, and worse when it turns out to be an alternate version of himself. This exciting technothriller hinges on the idea of multiple realities. Jason's desperation to return home to his family and the struggles he goes through to figure out how to navigate the multiverse make this an irresistible read. Despite a few small missteps, including the introduction of a sidekick for Jason that peters out in a vaguely unsatisfying way, it is not hard to see why this title was preempted by Sony in a big bid for the movie rights. VERDICT While stories of the multiverse are not new, Crouch ("Wayward Pines" trilogy) brings a welcome intensity to the trope.--MM

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 1, 2016
    Brilliant scientist Jason Dessen was on the verge of a major breakthrough when his life took a different turninstead of completing his work on quantum superposition, he married his pregnant girlfriend and now lives a relatively happy life as husband to the gorgeous Daniela, father to teenage Charlie, and professor of undergrad physics at a small Chicago-area college. All is wellif not very excitinguntil the night he is abducted and bludgeoned, and wakes up in a different time and place . . . or, perhaps, it's a different plane. Turns out there's another world, one where Jason didn't marry Daniela but went on to create a box that can transport someone into a parallel universedon't worry, all that's needed is a basic understanding of Schrodinger's cat. It's very strange and a little thrilling to him, but all Jason really wants is to get home to his wife and son. This proves quite daunting, as every trip through the box takes him to yet another plane, mostly with disastrous results (think butterfly effect). Crouch keeps the pace swift and the twists exciting. Readers who liked his Wayward Pines trilogy will probably devour this speculative thriller in one sitting; also offer this one to those who enjoy roller-coaster reads in the vein of Harlan Coban and can appreciate the need to suspend their disbelief. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: If buzz at the recent Public Library Association conference is any indication, Crouch has something very big here.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2016
    A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller. Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago's Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers "a sucker punch" as he heads home that leaves him "standing on the precipice." From behind Jason, a man with a "ghost white" face, "red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes" points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant--provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 3, 2016
    Jon Lindstrom delivers an excellent reading of Crouch’s mind-bending novel. Jason Dessen is a physics professor at a small Chicago college, whose more ambitious career aspirations in quantum physics were set aside for the tranquil normalcy of homelife with a wife and teenage son. He is content with his life, until one day when he’s abducted and drugged and wakes up into a world in which his particular quantum many-worlds theory has become a fully realized technology for interdimensional transfer. In this world, Jason didn’t marry his girlfriend and never had a son. Lindstrom’s strong, well-modulated voice relays Dessen’s travels through a multitude of alternate worlds and realities with a solid conviction that keeps the story moving forward at a steady pace. He pulls the listener fully into the story with an earnestness that perfectly captures Jason’s bewilderment, despair, and desperate desire for home. There’s plenty of action and unexpected, even shocking, turns in the story, which Lindstrom handles with expert skill. A Crown hardcover.

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Blake Crouch
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