RECURSION (3.5 out of 5) Written by Blake Crouch; On Sale June 19, 2019.
Crouch is always mind-bendingly entertaining and his latest novel, Recursion, is not an exception. In this case, he rewrites the real-world phenomenon of the Mandela Effect, creating an interesting and fast-paced narrative surrounding the concept of memories.
Imagine you woke up one morning and discovered that your entire life –your job, your kids, your friends, all your experiences – wasn’t real. It still feels real. You remember it vividly. But you also suddenly remember another life; your real life. And you are told that the life you remember is a result of FMS (False Memory Syndrome)–an illusion created by your brain.
What would it be like to live your life over again? What would it be like to go back and change past events? How would this action affect your future? How would it affect the future of others?
These are some of the questions that Recursion poses to the reader. As wonderful an idea as this is, there are, of course, consequences.
In this book, New York City cop Barry Sutton investigates the suicide of a woman with FMS. She killed herself after trying to make contact with the husband from her false memories and finding him married with a child. How strange it is that she remembers an entire life with a man who exists, but he doesn’t seem to remember her at all. Barry finds himself needing answers.
Eleven years earlier, neuroscientist Helena Smith conceives of a technology that can preserve memories and could eventually be a cure for the Alzheimer’s that is stealing away her mother’s mind. Funded by a mysterious billionaire, Helena builds something that enables people to relive their precious memories. But she never foresees the darker side of the project–the side that triggers an unraveling of, not only the past, but reality itself.
Recursion is emotionally devastating, intensely gripping, and immensely innovative. Crouch has a way of attracting his characters to readers that I just don’t see enough of in today’s thrillers. These characters are just normal people (albeit, a couple of them are geniuses) with the same flaws we ourselves deal with in our own lives. They aren’t superheroes with invincibility or catlike reflexes. They can’t have five double bourbons and then drive a car into a building, killing all the baddies and saving the hostages. They are believable characters that just want things to go differently for them and their loved ones. To nix grief and anguish and to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, college graduations and the like. To love someone with such conviction to risk it all, over and over again, knowing the repercussions. This book tore me up emotionally and that is a rare thing. Kudos.
And if anyone is worried that novels like these usually stop long before the full ramifications are revealed, rest assured. Crouch goes DEEP into the aftermath, aftermath, aftermath, aftermath, etc. The ambition of this book is truly breathtaking. This is such an astonishingly detailed thriller that by the conclusion you are both exhausted and exhilarated. Recursion is the definition of a page-turner.
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