Writer(s): Blake Crouch.
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY).
Release Date: June 11th 2019.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Blake Crouch is no stranger to readers today. His Wayward Pines trilogy, adapted as a TV series, is one of his most well-known work that saw a fanbase form out of the blue. His last novel surged an incredible uproar filled with love and praise and led Black Matter to quickly being optioned for the big screen. Continuing on a similar science-based narrative, his latest adventures have brought him to tangle with complex ideas and deliver some exciting and tantalizing stories. His ability to take a simple idea that emanates from real-life discoveries, to vulgarize it and allow the story to be accessible to just about any reader, makes his books unputdownable. With it already bound to become both a Netflix movie and series, Recursion is Blake Crouch’s latest project and its trippy and fast-paced narrative delivers a reading experience imbued in dependency and thrill.
What is Recursion about? With two interspersed narratives set 10 years apart from one another, the story dives into a world where discoveries in neuroscience allow reality to be bent by the will of individuals and memories playing a key role in our understanding of the past, present, and future. The first point of view follows New York City cop Barry Sutton in 2018 as he investigates a weird incident that hints towards a world-wide known phenomenon dubbed the False Memory Syndrome where victims who contract this maddening affliction remember a life that they never lived. The second point of view introduces readers to neuroscientist Helena Smith who specializes in memories and is granted the resources necessary to create a technology in 2008 that could allow individuals to relive memories. Where do these two cross paths? What reality-threatening dilemmas do they untangle? That is where the story finds its essence and draws you into a world where a pandora box is opened.
For those who wonder why Blake Crouch’s novels always come with so much love and praise from his readers, I can assure you that the answer is essentially in his writing style. Reading Recursion felt like reading a solid psychological thriller with a very easy to understand conceptualization of its scientific premise. The story does have bigger-than-life ideas that could allow some authors to create some of the best hard science-fiction stories out there but Blake Crouch takes an approach that makes it incredibly digestible and easy to follow while plugging in some of the key ingredients to a high-paced thriller that incorporates back to back twists when you least expect it. While some of the plot elements are predictable, the story at its core remains original and explores individual emotional and psychological issues regarding memories but also expands its reflection on a political and international level, covering all grounds and allowing the story to be exhaustive in its analysis of all the repercussions that the technology at the core of this narrative implicates.
Although the reflection on our understanding of memories is relatively profound in this story, I did feel like there are a lot of shortcuts taken regarding certain scientific explanations. Nitpicking would allow the identification of certain plot holes that make you wonder to what extent some of the ideas are feasible and plausible but the intention of this story did not seem like it was oriented towards a perfect comprehension and development of the technology at the heart of this story. In fact, Blake Crouch’s vision was mostly oriented towards inserting the smallest doubt in the reader that would open them up towards believing what he creates. I could also say that I felt like there was an extremely thick plot armour that surrounded this technology that forbade anything and anyone from doing something about it. This could also be due to the direction the story takes after the halfway point that mostly revels in repetition but sometimes a fast-paced science-fiction thriller is exactly what you need in your life.
Recursion is a clever page-turner that brilliantly extrapolates an idea that explores memory and identity, to ultimately explore its multiple facets through thrills and puzzles.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!