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Dark Matter

A Novel
Written by: Blake Crouch
Narrated by: Jon Lindstrom
Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (198 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"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.

From the author of the best-selling Wayward Pines trilogy, 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.

©2016 Blake Crouch (P)2016 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Brilliant. A book to remember. I think Blake Crouch just invented something new." (Lee Child, New York Times best-selling author of the Jack Reacher series)
"Exceptional. An exciting, ingeniously plotted adventure about love, regret, and quantum superposition. It's been a long time since a novel sucked me in and kept me turning pages the way this one did." (Andy Weir, New York Times best-selling author of The Martian)
"Wow. I gulped down Dark Matter in one sitting and put it down awed and amazed by the ride. It's fast, smart, addictive - and the most creative, head-spinning novel I've read in ages. A truly remarkable thriller." (Tess Gerritsen, New York Times best-selling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely Brilliant

This kept me up all night consecutively desperate to finish. It is one of the few books where I have completely escaped into it, and the science is truly beautiful to ponder over; and Jon Lindstrom's performance had me shaking in excitement nearly the entire time. A must listen, especially if you need an escape.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Captivating story. Mostly believable.

From a thought-experiment perspective, this book reminds me of Replay (Ken Grimwood), where in both cases, the MC gets to experience many different realities with the same conscious memories intact.

And in that sense, it succeeds as an entertaining and thought-provoking novel that's well worth the read. The sci-fi aspects won't be enough to satisfy the realism levels of hardcore "plausible sci-fi" readers, but the story also doesn't try to bridge those gaps, it focuses more on the theme of what's really important in life, even if you have every possible version of your life story available to access.

Highly recommend on the conceptual level.

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Pretty good, but I didn't really get lost in it

it was fun and the tension escalates really nicely throughout, but for whatever reason it wasn't the page turner I'd hoped it'd be.

all in all the ending was pretty solid

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I enjoyed the book throughout the whole time.

I enjoyed the book throughout the whole time. it keeps me thinking. I loved the twists

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Gave me goosebumps

This book had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The narrator had me hooked from the first page. There’s some writing that’s a little cheesy and cringey, and not to mention the science of the book is a little far fetched and paradoxical, however, i found it very entertaining and a great read.

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Entertained thoroughly

couldn't put it down, will go through again. hopefully there is a sequel. Thank you.

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Great and entertaining

i don't read books for fun to often but this book kept me entertained and engaged. the images are vivid the story gets to the point and is not afraid to be a little honest. there was a point where it was a little repetitive but it quickly got back to story progression. the quantum science was on point and easy to understand.

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#Audible1

loved it. I want to read it again because I feel its own of those books with multiple layers.

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Sci Fi with a Twist

Awesome story. More sci fi than I anticipated, but such a great thriller/mystery to go along with it. I was hooked within the first hour and finished it within a few days. #Audible1

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if you like weird...

you'll love dark matter. I couldn't put it down. so many great twists and turns. not the same old cookie cutter sci-fi. loved it.
#Audible1

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Em
  • 2018-08-04

Eh, it was okay

This is pretty quick and shallow summer read. I really like a good multiverse story and this definitely had pieces of a good story in the book's concept, it just didn't flesh any of them out in an overly interesting way.

We have Jason, a physicist currently teaching college undergrads at a second rate University near Chicago, but formerly a reportedly brilliant researcher in his younger days, who gave up the fast track to physics fame to have a low key family life. We have some narrative ponderings about the path not taken, and some narrative descriptions of quantum theory and the multiverse. Into that set-up we have a blustery night, a Jason returning from a congratulatory pub party for a far more successful science friend, and a mysterious stranger who kidnaps our humble Jason and thrusts him into the multiverse where he spends the rest of the book contemplating the infinities of paths not taken and just trying to get back home.

I don't think there are any spoilers in that, as this is the set up you're expecting from the start. I think this story could have been told in a lot of thought provoking ways, but in this case it wasn't. It was literally just that scaffold with some action superimposed on top of it. It wasn't terrible, it was just kind of unmemorable.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • mcb17
  • 2019-04-22

I no longer trust Audible reviews

This book wasn't bad but there is no way it should be scoring a 4 out of 5. This has helped to make me aware that we should not trust Audible reviews.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Darwin8u
  • 2016-09-19

Schrödinger's box gets opened. Meh steps out.

"I suppose we're both just trying to come to terms with how horrifying infinity really is."
-- Blake Crouch, Dark Matter

On the back of this book is a blurb by Lee Child where he says: "Brilliant. A book to remember. I think Blake Crouch just invented something new."

Then problem here is this book isn't new. I'm not saying it isn't good. It is a fine book. It is a screenwriter writing a book about science. We get line or two about the multiverse, some thoughts about game theory. The narrator talks with vague, and broad-strokes about Schrödinger's cat, the Copenhagen interpretation, the multiverse, and even a bit of quantum entanglement. But beyond the superficial use of quantum mechanics this novel seems all slickness with no soul.

Too me it is a degraded copy of a better book. The better, more literary version of this book was written by Stephen Peck and is called A Short Stay in Hell. Steven Peck is a scientist (Professor of biomathematics and entomology. Peck's novel is more literally, scary, and came out about four years. I should be clear here. I'm not saying Crouch ripped Peck off. There are many ways to use infinity and the desire to return home in a SF novel. I'm just saying that Dark Matter, for me, was the dead cat of the two in the box.

It seemed too Hollywood. Too made to be optioned. I am sure (as sure as Crouch's film and TV manager and entertainment attorney) that it will be made into a movie. Perhaps, Tom Hanks will star in it. It just isn't a great book. When it gets made into a movie, I'll shell out the $12 to see it, I just think Peck's novel was better, more philosophical, had a better grasp of the fundamental science of large numbers, and didn't sell out the end to a pitch-packaged, happy ending.

I'd love someone else to read both and tell me I was wrong, but I don't think so. I've opened both doors, experienced both worlds. The differences are as glaring as the difference between a house and a home. One was SF beauty, this was just a cold, slick, uncanny valley. I know I'm in the minority here. Most of my friends who have read this loved it. I don't know. It just seemed too predictable, too soft, too secure in its protagonist. History, and I guess in multiverse fiction too, gets written by the winner. I guess what I'm saying is I'd rather have read a book written by Jason2, 3, 4 or 70.

203 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Kenton
  • 2019-08-11

Remedial

Just another “...myself from the past, disappointed with the emptiness of fame and selfish choices, crosses universes and trades places with me, stealing my life, so I have to fight to get it all back, a secret government conspiracy chasing me the whole time....” blah blah blah story.

Gave up at 2 hours because I was so far ahead of the story I found myself literally slapping a palm to my forehead.

If you have read twelve of these kinds of books already, you might like it.

Whatever.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 2016-08-05

Another Book Where the Ratings Lie

Any additional comments?

Oh wow, do NOT get this book. Honestly, just get Where the Hell is Tesla? by Rob Dircks. It's the same book/story except good.

The most grievous sin of this book is the physicist protagonist is so dumb that he should be nowhere without a chaperone. To avoid spoilers, imagine Groundhog Day. Now imagine if Bill Murray couldn't figure out he was repeating the same day over and over again, even given the overwhelming amount of evidence. This goes on in Dark Matter until the 44% mark, I know because I noted it. Then the next 40% or so is that meme where a cartoon dog is drinking coffee in a burning room and saying, "This is fine."

You will not be able to relate to the idiot of a protagonist. You will root for him to lose, because he deserves it. The science isn't there, because the whole setup just spawns so many plot holes. That's why this book gets three stars, because it is like a bad movie. It is fun to sit there and point out all the flaws and wonder about our hero's intelligence.

Speaking of, this book insults the listener's intelligence by existing, but beyond that, the last few pages explain the whole theme! I guess Crouch really wanted to make sure we understood the point he was trying to make.

I do not recommend this book, I recommend Where the Hell is Tesla? Seriously, it's the exact same book but written tongue in cheek instead of trying and failing to be serious.

264 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • RBerrymanilow
  • 2016-10-06

Genius Protaganist is an Idiot

Has Dark Matter turned you off from other books in this genre?

I love Science Fiction! Unfortunately, Blake Crouch assumes his readers have never read or watched anything else in the Sci-Fi genre before. There is literally nothing original in this story.

Any additional comments?

The main character is supposed to be this genius scientist, but he acts like a complete idiot. As a reader, I could see everything coming from a mile away, but the super smart scientist couldn't figure anything out until it hit him in the face.

67 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve Angeles
  • 2016-09-29

Disappointing, then mildly disappointing. Yay?

What would have made Dark Matter better?

Better character development, more interesting characters, less cheese.

What was most disappointing about Blake Crouch’s story?

Anyone who knows anything about sci-fi knows what's going on very early, and it takes most of the book for the main character to get it... but wait, he already got it just didn't tell us. /eyeroll.

Have you listened to any of Jon Lindstrom’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not that I can remember. The narration was good enough, it wasn't his fault the characters were boring.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, until the end, then a little excitement, but still disappointing.

Any additional comments?

I'm pretty good at letting my expectations stay neutral... but I have to say, listening this reminded me of why Da Vinci Code was so popular and so lame. I like the concept, I know it's hard to write about this subject and make it work... but honestly you can't just let your good concept float your story without stepping up your structure and narrative.
**Spoilers**
First off. The naive family love angle was struggling for real purchase. If your reader is going to take everything the author says at face value, fine... have at it... "Dan Brown generic handsome character has complex life with equally beautiful archivist because I say so, GO!" But I was barely convinced of his second hand love for his wife and kid. Too simple, I didn't live in his shoes long enough, I didn't feel his affection, I didn't sense the every day, I just heard about it whenever the main character whined that it was gone. Without the REASON for him to care, I questioned everything he did, and the story could not carry that amount of scrutiny.
Then there's the main concept, it's well worked out, with the multiple hims, himming. That's where I finally stopped rolling my eyes. The bad guy was just a generic bad guy, but the bad him was a desperate version of himself. Well done. His helper girl was forgettable, but I liked that she left him, well done, was not expected because I was expecting something more generic. He was always saving her anyways because the author made her fragile. Anyways, at this point you're like at the last 1/5 of the book. Yeah, you spent that whole time being told how sad this guy was and listening to this SCIENTIST be completely irrational and stalkery.
The book ended ok which is why I didn't give it lower scores. Not satisfying, but ok. Yes, lets leave it all up to the kid we've known for like 7 pages.

So yeah, if you like being spoon fed your drama, you'll like this. If you like multiverse stories no matter what they're about, you'll like this. But if you're wanting a meaty thriller with a cool concept, deep emotion and equally deep characters, go listen to something else. I truly hope Blake Crouch takes his time and gives his next story better legs to stand on.

49 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Julie W. Capell
  • 2018-06-16

if Michio Kaku rewrote North by Northwest

I've always thought Cary Grant's everyman caught up in a case of mistaken identity, chased by bad guys and afraid he might never get his "normal" life back again, is one of the great stories of our time.

Here, the everyman is a physicist rather than a Madison Avenue adman and instead of being chased across the plains of the Middle West, our hero is being chased across the multiverse. Add in a very compelling love story and thrill-a-minute storytelling and you have a highly enjoyable book. I think it would make a great movie!

If you liked this book, you should definitely check out the similar but much funnier "Where the Hell is Tesla?" by Rob Dirks.

[I listened to this as an audiobook performed by Jon Lindstrom. Very good job, except that he made the Chicagoans in the story sound like they were from the Bronx.]

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shana
  • 2017-01-12

what a terrible title

yes, I get why it's called what it's called. but I found this book far more complex and beautiful. it's the most elegant love story.. I usually avoid romance novels because they don't feel authentic to me, but simplicity and intelligence of the characters makes it perfect.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Claudia H
  • 2016-08-12

Familiar Story told in a New Way

What other book might you compare Dark Matter to and why?

If you've ever read/listened to "The Fall" by R. J. Pineiro or "Where the Hell is Tesla?" by Rob Dircks, then this story will feel very familiar. The idea of an event that puts you in an alternate universe has been done many before.

What makes this one different is how the multiverse works and the heros...or hero...but I can't say more without spoiling it.

29 people found this helpful