Beautifully Chaotic and Oddly Emotional: A Review of Recursion by Blake Crouch

Our lives and we, ourselves, are made of our memories. Does that mean that altering these memories could alter our realities (or the perception of our realities)?

I’d been looking for a good science fiction novel for a long time. I’m a huge fan of Michael Crichton’s work – his books have always had an incredible mix of science fiction and psychological outlook, making for great stories with great characterization. Obscura by Joe Hart was the last ‘really good’ science fiction novel that I’d read (review here). And Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter has been on my list for a while. Before I could read that though, I heard about Recursion, added it to my TBR pile, and managed to get my hands on a copy.

Needless to say, I had high expectations. Read on to know if they were met.

Genre: 

Science fiction

Length: 

329 pages

Blurb:

NYC Cop, Barry Sutton, can do nothing but watch as a woman kills herself – driven mad by painfully vivid memories of a life she hasn’t lived. Sutton is a functioning alcoholic, unable to come to terms with the hit-and-run that killed his teenage daughter eleven years ago and his subsequent divorce. But he’s a good cop, which is why he cannot let the suicide go. Just another in a mounting number of cases of FMS – False Memory Syndrome – it leaves Sutton searching for a truth and opening the doors to a world he didn’t know existed.

Brilliant neuroscientist, Helena Smith, knows the importance of memories. And she wants to create the technology that will help people preserve their most precious ones, so that they can live them again in vivid detail. Driven by the desire to save her mother’s memories before Alzheimer’s claims them all, she cannot refuse an incredible opportunity that promises her everything she needs to achieve her goal.

The paths they set down on bring them together – and against a terrifying force… born from the greed of wealth and fame. Can Barry and Helena defeat this invisible enemy, or will reality as they – and everyone else – know it, change forever in catastrophic ways?

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

7 out of 10 (lower than my initial thought of 8 out of 10 because I found some of the character development toward the last one-third of the book a bit hurried and abrupt).

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its fictional science-y element

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series:

No. 

Highlighted Takeaway:

The (surprising) emotional impact that comes in at the (approximate) 60% mark of the story. Without giving away too much, I can only say that Blake Crouch manages to evoke a lot of feelings in the reader for his main characters.

What I Liked:

The tumult that many of the main characters go through and the different conclusions they reach – all of them make you feel like, if such an event were to really take place, these would be the very human and very humane things that most of us will probably do. It added a realistic element to the characters and the story.

What I Didn’t Like:

I found two things a bit off-putting. The first was the writing style. The tense used was a little difficult to get used to. You do get past it, but it takes a while and, until then, I found it keeping me from getting pulled right in from page one (even though the events that kickstart the book are pretty great). The second was the abrupt and sudden character development jump I mentioned above. It was easy to get past it and say, “Okay, this is happening with this person now,” and you even root for the persons involved, but I felt like it could have had a few more pages dedicated to it.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes science fiction will probably enjoy Blake Crouch’s Recursion, especially if you like Michael Crichton’s work.

Who Should Avoid:

There are elements of thriller and mystery, and even a dystopian feel to Recursion. But its crux is science fiction and a large part of the book is dedicated to explanations. Plus, its very story is based around popular science fiction themes. So unless you have at least a little bit of interest in science fiction, I would recommend avoiding Recursion.

Read It For:

A few excellent insights about us (as humans) and about living life – with all its ups and downs.

I can happily say that Recursion satisfied my craving for a great sci-fi read. And Blake Crouch is definitely an author to follow if you like the genre.

Share your thoughts on Blake Crouch’s work, Recursion, or anything sci-fi related in the comments below (book recommendations are very welcome!).

Coming up next… no idea! I’ve got a few books I’m looking at including Salvation of a Saint (by Keigo Higashino), Antifragile (by Naseem Nicholas Taleb), Hooked (by Nir Eyal), and Broken Heart (by Tim Weaver). Let’s see which one I end up starting with 😀

As always, thank you for stopping by and reading my two-cents’ worth on another book!

– Rishika

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