Part of the uncanny beauty of Dark Matter is how it manages to make discussions about quantum mechanics sound romantic. And that tender element of Blake Crouch’s latest speculative adventure yarn is also its appeal. Put plainly, Crouch takes a sharp sci-fi premise and infuses it with love ... Crouch’s prose is limpid, but doesn’t suffer from the dumbed-down diction of a Dan Brown. Once his story gets going, the language is fleet and nimble, doing just enough work to propel the reader forward without coming across as utilitarian or rote ... Dark Matter is It’s A Wonderful Life for the 21st century.
...a book which is sometimes maddening in its refusal to be as good as you want it to be ... Crouch's affection for poetical (really, haiku-ical) structure within a work of prose is annoying at first, then infuriating, then simply numbing. And really, it's unnecessary — because almost the entire book is one big chase scene anyway ... [but] Crouch pulls off the big trick that makes it all worthwhile — a killer twist that is dark, horrifying, funny as hell, bizarre, completely earned and utterly original all at the same time.
...you’ll gulp [Dark Matter] down in one afternoon, or more likely one night ... Dark Matter is far too cheerful and indeed too earnest to feel cynical, even as Crouch pilfers material from dozens of sources and Mixmasters together multiple genres of popular fiction ... What Crouch really cannot do, although he occasionally makes token efforts, is slow down the pace enough to allow his characters and readers to take stock of their situation and ponder the meaning of it all ... Crouch’s obsessive need for speed sometimes leads him to tread upon his better writing and his more imaginative ideas.
Dark Matter mines the shadier corners of science and humanity to move its story along, though it’s probably a little technobabbly for anybody who isn’t a hardcore Michael Crichton fan. Some of the science seems a bit too convenient in certain parts, as Jason navigates a corridor of infinite Earths to find his family again, yet the tome does tap into and utilize theories such as Schrödinger's cat to make it a thought-provoking read ... Crouch does his best work in the middle chapters, as Jason and Amanda experiment opening different doors to various worlds.
...[a] brisk, propulsive sci-fi thriller ... Dark Matter has plenty of heady concepts and phantasmagorical plotting. But it is also beguilingly rooted in Jason1’s desperate travails, elevating this page-turning adventure into an entirely different dimension.
Until the final pages, it's nail-biting suspense trying to figure out how the story will wrap up as the twists turn ludicrous. While the fast pace is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book, it also lets Crouch avoid answering too many plot questions. What he does well, however, is leave readers thinking of Dark Matter long after they've finished reading.
'Alternate worlds' and 'the corridors of time' are established sci-fi motifs, but Mr. Crouch has invested them with scientific plausibility, and more unusually, with emotional depth. His book is a meditation on personality and identity. It draws on questions and anxieties we all wrestle with in the dark hours.
Dark Matter is one of those books that works better, the less you know about it going in. Especially in this case, because Blake Crouch doesn't wait long to grab ahold of your reader sensibilities and shake you, like a dog with its prey locked in its jaw. He flings you into realms of science fiction, mystery, action, horror and even hints of surrealism. The novel is smart, funny, entertaining, and engrossing, with fantastic and blind-siding plot twists.