Also by this author: Dark Matter
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on June 11, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Wow, Blake Crouch has done it again! I didn’t think there was any way he could top the mind blowing reading experience of Dark Matter, but man, was I wrong…He really outdoes himself with his latest novel, Recursion, a gripping sci-fi read that explores what happens when memory storing technology designed to potentially help Alzheimer’s patients retain some of their memories ends up in the wrong hands.
The story follows Barry Sutton, a NYC police detective, and Helena Smith, a gifted neuroscientist. Barry is sent to an address in New York where a woman is threatening to kill herself. She has False Memory Syndrome, or FMS, a somewhat new phenomenon that keeps popping up more and more frequently. People who contract FMS suddenly develop a complete set of memories of a life that they haven’t actually lived. The false memories are so vivid and detailed that they seem real, which causes those who have the condition to become completely confused about what is real and what isn’t. The woman Barry has been sent to talk down from the roof suddenly started believing that she was happily married to a man that she really wasn’t. The memories were so convincing that she sought out the man and discovered that he was happily married to someone else and had a family of his own. Devastated by this discovery and armed with the knowledge that she’s really all alone in the world, she decides she doesn’t want to live. Barry gets a taste of just how closely our memories dictate our reality and how it can all fall apart if we can’t trust those memories.
Eleven years prior to our meeting Barry, Helena Smith is hard at work trying to develop a technology that she hopes will help Alzheimer’s patients, including her own mother, retain some of their memories. When a wealthy benefactor offers her nearly unlimited funding to fast track her research, Helena can’t resist. All goes fantastically until she and her benefactor start testing the technology on live subjects and see all of its possibilities, both good and bad. Fast forward eleven years and we can see firsthand the bad that can come of it and we see Helena’s and Barry’s journeys intertwine as they come together to try to stop what Helena has inadvertently set into motion.
What made Recursion such a phenomenal read for me was how Crouch manages to take this fictional memory storing technology, which, at first, sounds outrageous and completely impossible, and he transforms it into a scenario that seems completely plausible. And because it actually does seem plausible, it starts to feel a little less like science fiction and a little more like a glimpse into our future. The fact that there are potentially catastrophic consequences lends the story a real sense of urgency and ratchets up the tension and suspense. The emotional and sometimes desperate reactions of those who are impacted by all of this mucking around with memories felt completely authentic too. I sympathized with them so much and found myself wondering how I would react if I was in their shoes. I loved that added emotional layer.
Crouch had me so caught up in this story that I was up until nearly 2a.m.one night because I just couldn’t go to sleep until I knew how the story was going to end. I kind of hated myself the next day, but it was so worth it. Plus, the writing is so crisp and smooth that it just naturally lends itself to binge-reading it.
Recursion is a powerful and mind blowing read that I just know I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. Aside from being a riveting page turner, it’s also a book that left me with some pretty major food for thought, namely the question of whether technology that has the potential to do an incredible amount of good is worth having if it also has the potential to do a devastating amount of bad if placed in the wrong hands. If you enjoyed Dark Matter, you’re going to love Recursion. And if you’re a science fiction fan, I highly recommend both novels. They made Blake Crouch an auto-buy author for me.
Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.
As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?