My partner advised me of the calming enjoyment he receives when listening to an audio book on his way to work. I, like many others, find myself staring at the grey stationary bumper of the car in front of me every single morning, which “occasionally” leads to impatience. Despite my conviction that my passion for books derives from the smell and feel of the pages which can lock my intangible memories between it’s physical pages, I decided to give audio books a try.
I knew that to ensure that they were given a fair chance, I had to pick a book that I was likely to have enjoyed had I purchased it in text form. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch seemed to tick all my initial boxes as being a scientific thriller. Crouch delivered on my expectations for the book.
We all yearn for what we cannot have, convinced that the grass is always greener on the other side. It is so easy to do this without realising how ungrateful this makes us for the life that we have. It is a shame how easily the human mind can focus on negatives.
The protagonist Jason Dessen is a married professor. The story opens with the natural wondering of what he could have achieved had he taken a different path in life. In particular, he thinks of the decision he made when as a young adult with abundant career prospects, his girlfriend told him that she was pregnant. It is refreshing that Crouch used a male character for this common theme, as it is often explored from a woman’s perspective. Particularly in our current culture, there seems to be a divide between a working mother and a stay at home mother, whilst this question appears to be mostly unasked when it comes to males. Though typically, for Jason the decision was whether to stay or to flee, a choice that differs for women.
The Jason that we grow to know made the decision 15 years prior to attempt a balance between his work life and his home life, and stayed with Daniella. However, not every Jason would always make this decision, and this is where the book comes into its own as a relatively original and well written concept.
For every choice, there is at least 2 paths that can be chosen. When we start to think of what would happen if everything that could happen somewhere did happen our brains begin to cloud over from the sheer unimaginable size and consequences of thoughts such as these. Crouch attempts, and personally I feel succeeds, to write about this matter which is probably a better suited discussion between two individuals over a coffee shop in Amsterdam.
What I appreciated about the novel is that Crouch uses known scientific theories to give credit and substance to an idea that would otherwise be unimaginable. “You figured out a way to turn a human being into a living and dead cat”- a reference to Shrodinger’s Cat experiment. A small part of me has to wonder if scientists, with brains far more expansive than mine, could possibly be working on a box such as the one the book describes. Can we really know for sure that this is impossible, or just presume?
Listening to the book as opposed to reading it was an enjoyable experience. I found that the book surrounded me, rather than escaped from the pages before me. The narrator, Jon Lindstrom, truly became Jason Dessen to me. Whilst his attempt at feminine voices and his over enunciation of the h in “wh” words was like nails on a chalkboard for me, it was significantly easier for me to imagine myself in the character’s footsteps. This sensation was further supported by Crouch’s writing style, which occasionally sets the scene in much the same way you would expect a script. However, I attributed this to being an aspect of Dessen’s personality. As a man of science; objectivity and perceptiveness are likely to be key characteristic traits of Dessen, so it was appreciated that this crept into his narration. That and it makes the screen play adapter’s job substantially easier.
I found it to be fast paced and an excellent novel to use as my first dip in the world of audio books.