Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: Dark Matter

I occasionally join in on the festivities of The Deliberate Reader's on-line book club. When I read the description for April's selection, Blake Crouch's Dark Matter, I was drawn in. Then, when I discovered it was a book I could listen to in audio form, my participation was clinched. The only thing that could have been better would have been for me to discover this a bit sooner (since I had to avoid viewing the questions for this whole first week and a half of April).

What a thought-provoking book! Jason Dessen lives a mediocre life with his lovely wife, Daniella, and his teen son, Charlie. He is a physics professor at a small Chicago college. Where would life have taken him if Daniella hadn't gotten pregnant and they hadn't chosen to get married? On a quiet night, heading home from a celebration for a colleague's recent achievement, Jason is kidnapped and drugged. He awakens to another world. A world where he supposedly went on to pursue the great scientific discovery of dark matter (innumerable alternate realities bent by individual human choices). In this world, his wife is not his wife and his child, never born. He is faced with a host of scenarios that might have happened if his choices had been different. But once trapped in this other world, he must find a way back to his truest self and the most important choices of his existence.

Who doesn't wonder what their life would have been like if they had simply taken a different path at any number of cross-roads? I've previously mentioned my own fascination with the "what ifs" of life. I loved the movie "Sliding Doors," for its treatment of just such a question. I enjoyed this book even more than that movie. I hated the villain, even though the villain was part-and-parcel of the hero. I desperately wanted Jason to end up in the life of his choosing, where love and happiness both rule supreme over success. I loved second-guessing how Jason could triumph over his dilemma. The twists in the tale were cleverly executed.

As for personal application, I thought long and hard about whether I would trade my current existence for something other, if that alternate life provided more success or a more satisfying path. Would I trade my time with my sons, if it meant more fulfillment in a career? Would I so long for the elusive grail of publication that I would be willing to trade personal happiness for it? Hmm. I think I should focus more energy on gratitude and less on wishful thinking.

There is some on-line talk of a movie production. I would welcome the experience. Moreover, it would be a movie my husband might even enjoy seeing with me (something we seldom do) - he's always game for philosophical rumination.

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