I stumbled into one of my favorite fiction writers, Blake Crouch, while perusing the library on a 700-person cruise boat on the Mediterranean in the summer of 2019.
My first taste of Crouch’s writing was “Dark Matter,” which is his segue book that focuses on the possibilities of time travel and multiple timelines within the fantasy, sci-fi genre.
The summer I read that book, I was hungry for another. To my surprise, he had a book set to publish that same year. I had never waited in anticipation for a book to be released, so this was a new experience, and “Recursion” was worth the wait.
I have reread it several times, and it is the first book that comes to mind anytime someone asks for a recommendation.
The book starts as a classic thriller and mystery following two separate points of view from Helena Smith and Barry Sutton at different points of time. Each chapter of the book is labeled either Barry or Helena with the date; dates and time are important in this book.
“Recursion,” like “Dark Matter,” is focused on a highly scientific machine that allows the characters to travel through time so-to-speak. It isn’t quite “Back to the Future,” but it seems like a more realistic possibility of how traveling back in time could be if the technology existed.
I’ll admit, some of the science goes over my head when Crouch explains how the machine functions. However, my slight confusion doesn’t take away from my overall understanding of the plot of the story. Crouch’s writing is great because it is an accessible book for everyone to understand, not only the sci-fi community.
The premise of “Recursion” is not too hard to grasp when you let go of all the current ideas of how we view time as something that only happens right now. The machine in “Recursion” drops people back into their memories, which allows them to “redo” their life.
Although Crouch is alternating back and forth between two perspectives and different times in the book, it is not a confusing read. He does a good job at eventually weaving the two stories into one that made me want to finish it faster just to see how it ends.
The main character, Sutton, facilitates the reader’s understanding of how the machine functions when he is sent back into a memory to relive his life. Smith is the creator of the machine, so the beginning of the book is the parallel of the creation of the machine with how it functions. Eventually, Sutton and Smith come together in an effort to prevent the machine from being weaponized.
But of course, chaos ensues when side effects from the machine grip characters, which creates a slippery slope of catastrophic events — it is not as cliche as I just made it seem with that bare-bones description.
I love the thriller genre of fiction writing, and “Recursion” fits that bill. There are twists and details that suck you in and make you try to guess what could happen next.
I am always surprised how quickly I reread it, because there is not a dull moment in it. It is one of those books that is tough to pull yourself away from until you finish it.
If the thought of having a new outlook on the human understanding of time scares you a bit, then I wouldn’t recommend it. Although it is hypothetical, it seems as though it could be real through Crouch’s description.
It is definitely a good story, even without my stamp of approval, because I have heard on social media that “Recursion” is being adapted into a movie and show by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix. Rhimes is the creator of TV hits like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”
I trust her enough to do the book justice; however, I am a firm believer that the book version is always better than the televised remake. Now is the perfect time for people to read Crouch’s unique thriller prior to any hype the show and movie could receive when it airs.
I read it in a few days, so it isn’t too laborious to get through on a weekend or even a lazy afternoon.