Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch


Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Source: Book of the Month
Release Date: June 11th, 2019

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?

If you’re a sci-fi fan looking for a pulse-racing, mind-bending read, this is the book for you!

I always think its a huge accomplishment if I rate a science fiction book anything higher than two stars, because sci-fi really just isn’t my cup of tea. I’ve tried again and again, but almost every time I attempt this genre, I’m reminded of why I usually steer clear of it. Blake Crouch’s books seem to be the only exception, as I really enjoyed both Dark Matter and Recursion!

The plot is nonlinear and therefore difficult to summarize, but I’ll do my best. The two main characters are Barry, a divorced cop in his 40’s who still mourns the death of his daughter, and Helena, a brilliant scientist who’s ultimate goal is to create a chair that can save memories and prevent/cure Alzheimer’s. When Helena’s research ends up in the wrong hands, her chair becomes a tool that allows the user to travel back into their memories, relive them, and alter the course of history. The technology initially seems to be a revolutionary instrument to make the world a better place, but ends up having disastrous consequences on humankind. With the fate of the world at stake, Barry and Helena must travel through their interwoven memories to put an end to the chair (and the memory of it) forever.

If you were to try to map the plot, it would look like a scribble. As you can imagine, this book ends up being a complete mind-fuck. But underneath the twists and scientific jargon, there’s a deeply human and thought-provoking story here. It asks the question: if you had the chance to re-live your life knowing what you know now, would you take it?

I’m only giving this book 3.5 stars because the ending started to feel a little repetitive for me. I also didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Dark Matter, but I don’t think its fair to compare the two. All in all, the writing is phenomenal, the characters are deeply relatable, and the story will have your brain doing somersaults.

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