Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for DARK MATTER and THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
Also by this author: Recursion
Published by Crown on July 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
“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 bestselling 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.
Dark Matter is a fast-paced sci-fi novel that, at its essence, explores how far a man will go to get back to his loved ones. It follows Jason, a man who has a pretty decent life. He’s got a wife who loves him, a great teenage son, and a job as a science professor at a local university in Chicago. One night Jason goes out to buy ice cream and his entire world turns upside down. He is abducted at gunpoint, drugged, and wakes up in a world that he doesn’t recognize. It’s still Chicago, but it’s not his Chicago. In the version of Chicago Jason wakes up in, not only does he not have a wife and child, but he’s also an award-winning physicist who has been working on and apparently testing a way to travel in the multiverse. His theory is similar to time travel, except that instead of actually traveling through time, you can travel to an unlimited number of parallel universes, each of which were created at key moments in one’s life when choices had to be made. Jason quickly realizes that someone has used his invention to steal his life and deposit him here in this alternate version of his world and begins a desperate race to find his way back home to his family.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. I thought the premise was unique and I thought the author did a brilliant job of incorporating many complex scientific ideas like string theory, while still making the storyline entirely accessible to even a reader who isn’t into science or science fiction. I thought the pacing of the book was fantastic as well. It was an incredibly suspenseful read and the pacing never lagged. It actually just got faster and faster until it reached a breakneck pace each time Jason tried and failed to find his way back home.
It was definitely a plot-driven read, although I thought it also posed some very deep philosophical questions, the main one being how far would you go to be reunited with your loved ones…Would you kill someone if it meant you could have your family and your life back?
I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this book, but if you’re looking for a wild ride that will keep you turning pages way past your bedtime, Dark Matter will not disappoint! 5 STARS
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Published by William Morrow on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
The Woman in the Window is a riveting psychological thriller that follows main character Anna Fox, a child psychologist who has been forced to retire because she was recently diagnosed with agoraphobia and is afraid to leave her home. Because her whole world is now confined to her house, Anna has minimal contact with actual people. She has standing appointments with her psychiatrist and a physical therapist, who are willing to make house calls, but aside from that, Anna spends much of her time online playing chess, taking French lessons, and taking part in an online agoraphobia forum where she, ironically, counsels others who are suffering from her condition and helps them move forward with their lives even though she has been trapped in her home for 10 months now. When she’s not online, Anna spends the rest of her time either drinking wine, popping prescription pills, or standing at her window with her camera observing her neighbors. She knows all of the comings and goings of her neighbors, and takes a special interest in the new neighbors that move in across the street. When she accidentally witnesses what appears to be a crime one night while staring at their house and no one believes her when she tries to report it, it turns her entire world upside down to the point where she doesn’t know what is real and what isn’t anymore. Did she imagine it? Is there danger across the street?
One of the mysteries of the book that I found most compelling was that there are hints that Anna has suffered some kind of horrific trauma that has led to her agoraphobia, but we must follow the clues throughout the story to get to the truth about what has happened to her. I actually guessed this plot twist fairly early on, which on the one hand, was a little disappointing, but on the other hand, it also made me feel tremendous empathy for Anna, which I might otherwise not have felt. This also helped me to better accept why she is such an unreliable character and it made me very invested in wanting to see her get better.
The story of what happened to Anna, coupled with getting to the bottom of what actually happened across the street, made for such a gripping read. I literally could not put this book down. At one point, I even had my Kindle propped up next to the stove while I was cooking so that I could sneak in a few more pages. It’s always such a treat to find a book that grabs my attention like that, so with that said, if you’re looking for a suspenseful and twisted thrill ride that will have you questioning what is real vs. what is imagined, I’d highly recommend The Woman in the Window. 4 STARS
You know how much I loved Dark Matter, so I’m absolutely thrilled that it was a 5-star read for you! I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews on Woman in the Window, but I’m glad you really enjoyed it. That might help push it up my TBR!
Oh man, Dark Matter was so good. I felt like an idiot for waiting as long as I did, lol.
Yes Dark Matter was so good!! I loved it. I was less in love with The Woman in the Window. Glad you enjoyed both of these!
Dark Matter was sooo good. It was definitely worth the wait.
I’ve been wanting to read Dark Matter for ages. I think Greg first got me onto it and then Angela kind of seconded it… But it’s still on the TBR. #bookwormproblems
I definitely recommend it!
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed both of these, even if you guessed a twist in The Woman in the Window. I’ve heard really good things about both of these!
I definitely recommend both of them if you’re looking for some real page turners.
Thank you for a really good couple of reviews – I’m particularly interested in Dark Matter and am now even more intrigued!
Dark Matter was a wonderful surprise for me. It definitely lives up to the hype.
I would love to read Dark Matter, can’t imagine waking up and everything is so messed up and wrong! I have a copy of The Women in the Window, still haven’t read it. Apparently I need to do that and soon. Great reviews!
Dark Matter was a wild ride, for sure. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going in, but I thought it was a brilliant read.
I really enjoy scifi, but sometimes it’s rough for me to get into via book form, but I’m glad this one worked for you so well. A psychological thriller is right up my alley, and I always enjoy sitting on the edge of my seat to figure things out, so I definitely want to check that one out. Hope your Friday is Fun! Hugs…RO
I love psychological thrillers too. They’re always such great page turners.
Both of these are new to me and I’m especially drawn to Dark Matter and how you described it as fast-paced and plot-driven. I’ll have to add it to my tbr!
If you try Dark Matter, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It actually surprised me how much I liked it!
I remember seeing Dark Matter floating around but didn’t know much about it. It sounds like a really interesting concept and story. While it’s not my typical genre of choice to read, I may have to pick this one up from the library. I feel like it would make a really good movie.
That’s funny you say that because the whole time I was reading Dark Matter, I kept thinking “Wow, I bet this would be a fantastic film!”
I read dark matter and enjoyed it. I have the woman in the window on my list. I am glad you like bed both of these
Dark Matter has been on my TBR for a bit too, simply because the premise sounded so interesting. I still haven’t taken it off the TBR, so there may be hope yet lol
Haha! Dark Matter sat on my bookshelf for almost two years so there’s always hope 🙂
Dark Matter definitely sounds very good and so does The Woman in the Window, I keep seeing that one around. Enjoy your weekend!
Thanks, you too!
I loved Dark Matter. I had a chance to meet the author and had my copy signed. You’ve got me curious about the Woman in the Window. Great reviews 🙂
Oh wow, that’s so great. He seems like he would be a pretty interesting person to meet.
oh I have had Dark Matter since forever on my TBR and your review makes me want to read it so badly! I think I’m a mini slump now and I need something suspenseful ad fast-paced! I love alternative realities based on scientific theories!
Dark Matter was so good! I think it has the potential to be a great slump buster.
Awesome reviews!! I LOVED The Woman in the Window. I can’t wait to see what the film is like if they don’t drop it before they complete it 🙂
Oh, I hope they don’t drop it. I think it has the potential to be a fantastic film!