Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Review: Recursion

Recursion Recursion by Blake Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free advanced copy of this from NetGalley for review.

I’ll bet Blake Crouch filled up at least five large whiteboards with diagrams trying to figure out the plot for this one.

NYPD Detective Barry Sutton tries to stop a woman about to jump off a high rise building, and she tells him that she’s suffering from the rare False Memory Syndrome which has given her the memories of another entire lifetime including a son who doesn’t exist. Barry become intrigued by the woman’s story, in part because he is mourning his own daughter who died years earlier, and he begins to look into her life. In a parallel story set 11 years earlier, Dr. Helena Smith is struggling to get funding for plans to build a machine capable of recording a human memory, and her project seems dead in the water until a mysterious investor steps in.

That’s all I want to say about the plot to anyone who hasn’t read the book, and I’d urge any reader to go in not knowing more than that because what follows mixes a clever sci-fi concept with an engaging thriller that turns the very idea of existence inside out.

To dig into this deeper without giving the ending away….**SPOILERS FOLLOW**I absolutely loved the time travel aspect of this with the idea that reality is shaped by consciousness so it should be possible to go back into our own memory and change things. The fallout from that, with the other memories eventually kicking in for those affected by it, is a terrifying way of expanding the scope that eventually scrambles the eggs of all of humanity. Helena’s chair is a Pandora’s Box that can’t be unopened even with time travel, and that creates a cruel trap. You can’t make this right without using time travel, but every trip back once things go to hell just means that eventually another timeline comes crashing down on everyone**END OF SPOILERS**

I was a little worried about the whole ‘sad Daddy’ aspect of Barry having a dead child at first because my complaint about Crouch’s other reality bending book Dark Matter was that it leaned on the trope of a man-doing-it-all-for-his-family, but I was pleasantly surprised with how the book eventually became a much bigger story without ever losing the emotional component of that backstory either.

Overall, this was mind-bending and horrifying page turner with some very cool ideas that had me on the edge of my seat while reading.

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