...you think you know where this is going ... Only you don't. Not even a little. Because what Crouch has made here is a puzzle box time-travel story, all based on memory and death ... But there's a catch. A big one and a clever one with some weird modern resonance ... Crouch handles the build-up well ... he juggles the multiple narrators and timelines with a confident economy. He couches the occasional (necessary, sometimes fascinating) infodump in character and tension most of the time, only rarely resorting to flashbackery or moody staring-off-into-the-rain soliloquy. And even though some of his relationships come with a whiff of plot contrivance, he has always been rare among that cadre of speculative fiction writers who traffic in big, near-future ideas in that his characters, on an individual basis, come off as actual humans rather than robots programmed to spout off dialogue ... Recursion ... is fuller than you'd expect. More fleshed. More human. It has a thrumming pulse that moves beyond big ideas and into their effects on a larger, more complex world.
...a heady campfire tale of a novel built for summer reading ... the journey is a gloriously twisting line that regularly confounded my expectations ... There’s a faint political undercurrent to the novel ... The sense that our country’s center is not holding pulses through the novel. The fear that we are losing our collective memory, of a stable nation for instance, doesn’t read to me like fantasy.
In the end, Crouch achieves a tale that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays. It might be somewhat slick, it might be eminently filmable, but it has heft and gravitas beyond the unambitious technothriller category ... you will not predict anything. In short, the fusion of human verities — albeit contorted into unprecedented shapes — and a fruitful novum sternly parsed leads to quintessential SF. Crouch’s skills in laying down tense and vivid action scenes is essential here as well.
At a modest 336 pages, it’s astonishing the amount of intriguing, adventurous, terrifying, emotional, philosophical, and even inspirational ground this book manages to cover. One might expect it would take a doorstopper stack of pages to convince us to play along with such a wild reach of make-believe. But Crouch wastes not a word, and at zero sacrifice of lyricism ... One of the book’s most impressive achievements is that the hinge-pin technology driving the story is a fantastical extrapolation from a few crumbs of real-life scientific breakthroughs ... What Inception did for dreams, Recursion does for memories, but arguably a bit more cleanly ... has instantly slotted into the ranks of the very best fiction I’ve ever read ... Blake Crouch may be a daredevil, unafraid of any speculative heights, but he’s an incredibly talented writer and thinker, too. His surefootedness with the spectacle that is Recursion is well worth every ooh and aah it collects. Bravo.
... a compelling thriller built on big ideas – typical of Crouch’s thought-provoking sci-fi sensibility ... science fiction at its apex, combining sophisticated concepts with sharp plotting and interesting characters. There’s a density to the narrative that could easily prove too complex, but Crouch has such a delicate touch that even as we bounce from perspective to perspective and time to time, there’s never the slightest issue. Juggling multiple timelines is tricky business, but even as the stories cross and uncross, with branches begetting branches begetting branches, the thread is never lost. It’s all handled masterfully ... One of the things that’s so much fun about Crouch’s work in general – and Recursion in particular – is the degree of difficulty with regards to narrative complexity. His books are marvelous puzzle boxes, stories wrapped in stories that challenge the reader without ever demanding more than they can give ... Another of Crouch’s many strengths is his understanding of character ... top-tier science fiction. Conceptually and narratively, it is a mesmerizing work, carefully constructed and exquisitely executed. It’s a story of the power of memory … a story you’ll never forget.
Crouch fills his follow-up to Dark Matter (2016) with mind-bending science, mounting suspense, and some romance. Readers may have to accept that they might not get the physics of what’s going on, but, in a peculiar way, that’s part of the fun.
Suffice it to say that, having tackled the subject of alternative dimensions in 2017’s Dark Matter, the author tackles another familiar science fiction trope here. And, as was the case with that previous book, he breathes fresh life into the matters with a mix of heart, intelligence, and philosophical musings ... Recursion is definitely one not to forget when you’re packing for vacation.
... speaks to the nature of memory and how people change when they don’t remember their past. It explores the poignancy of sacrifices made in a relationship to address past mistakes ... The core draw of the novel is the complicated love of two people through multiple possible lives and across the gulf of missing memories.
...Crouch delivers a bullet-fast narrative and raises the stakes to a fever pitch. A poignant love story is woven in with much food for thought on grief and the nature of memories and how they shape us, rounding out this twisty and terrifying thrill ride.
Cutting-edge science drives this intelligent, mind-bending thriller from bestseller Crouch ... Crouch effortlessly integrates sophisticated philosophical concepts—such as the relationship of human perceptions of what is real to actual reality—into a complex and engrossing plot. Michael Crichton’s fans won’t want to miss this one.