Recursion by Blake Crouch
This book is about something that rules everyone's life: memory.
What if it was possible to map memories so that you could replant them and live them over again? What if something went wrong and false memories appeared, causing you to doubt your existence and everything that you've ever known? What if you could go back and rewrite your history if you could? Would you?
What if your memories intruded on your life, making you feel like you're not sure if your memories are real or false? (I don't know about you, but that shit would make me feel crazy.)
This book answers these questions and demonstrates why maybe it's not a good idea to f*ck around with people's heads.
Let's get something out of the way: I am not a fan of science fiction. Futuristic travel, technology, aliens, shit that would never happen in a zillion years, blah, blah, blah.
That being said, Blake Crouch has being changing this for me. His 2016 book Dark Matter was one of the best books that I read in 2018 (yes, I was slow to the party). It was mindbending, thrilling, fast and I learned something or two about parallel universes, which I'm fascinated by. And it didn't bore me to death, which is the most important thing.
Needless to say, I was SO excited that Blake Crouch had another book coming out. I joined Book of the Month club just for this book (I could get a new copy immediately for $9.99!). In fact, I joined BOTM at 1 a.m. on my back staircase because I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it. (Loser much? Maybe.)
Anyway, I totally enjoyed this book. I loved the premise and am always drawn to stories about people that fight pain and come out on top. Stories of resilience.
In particular, I enjoyed the character of Barry, a NYPD officer who lost a daughter, his marriage falling victim after her death. The other main character, Helena, works tirelessly to create a contraption to help her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's. The author did a superb job of showing how these struggles impacted the character's desire to create something beneficial for the world.
Both of these people get drawn into a saga that questioned whether memories and time are real, what happens when you take a good-natured idea and it morphs into something terrible with unintended consequences.
The set-up of the story really got me going. I was DYING to know how this story would bend and twist. When I got towards the middle, however, there were moments of "Huh? Where are we? Whose timeline is this?" The story is told by going back and forth between Barry and Helena and this was confusing at times.
The middle dragged a bit, but then it built up and everything sped towards the end. Reading about the nuts and bolts of the memory chair and the fight over ownership of said chair went on a bit too long, but it was a necessary part of the story.
The end, however, had an urgency that I loved and I didn't want to put it down. The end was *a bit* too convenient, but that's forgivable. I blew through the last part while my eyes were burning and my husband was all, "Can we watch an episode of First 48 already??" NO. I AM READING THIS BOOK. LEAVE ME ALONE.
Bottom line? Read this and then read Dark Matter. And then read everything else he wrote.
Quotes from Recursion:
“Life with a cheat code isn't life. Our existence isn't something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain. That's what it is to be human - the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other.”
“There are so few things in our existence we can count on to give us the sense of permanence, of the ground beneath our feet. People fail us. Our bodies fail us. We fail ourselves. He's experienced all of that. But what do you cling to, moment to moment, if memories can simply change. What, then, is real? And if the answer is nothing, where does that leave us?”
“This low point isn't the book of your life. It's just a chapter.”
If you click on the Amazon link and buy the book (do it!), I'll get some money thrown my way. Isn't that nice? (You won't be charged extra or anything.)