After being kidnapped and drugged, Jason Dessen awakens in a new life. Instead of a college physics professor he’s a celebrated experimental physicist who’s invented something heretofore thought impossible. He also never married his perfect wife and his son was never born. Jason doesn’t know which life is real and which the dream, but he will not give up on the family he loves, even if the journey home is un-mapped and implausible.

Dark Matter is a mystery thriller that uses science fiction as a plot device, so it’s an entertaining page-turner with occasional science exposition. I really enjoy some of the later plot twists that complicate the story and turn up the action. It’s easy to become absorbed in such a fast-paced, almost cinematic book experience.

The pull throughout the story is Jason’s emotional connection with his wife and son, and the horror of potentially never seeing them again. However, besides Jason himself, the other characters are just plot pieces. Jason’s wife is too agreeable and his teenage son too meek. I cannot remember one negative thing he says about either of them in the entire novel, which only weakens the readers sympathy for their separation, and makes Jason’s motivation feel generic.

Unfortunately, the scifi ideas are well worn, and done better elsewhere. The science itself is light, so if you’re familiar with the concept of multiverses, this will not be very exciting. Actually, if you’re familiar with physics theory at all, you will probably be disappointed in the over-simplified Schrodinger’s cat paradox and nearly nonsensical dark matter explanations.

In some respects, facets of this book actually vilify science by praising the choice to settle down and have a family instead of pursuing professional aspirations, which undermines scientists who have cultivated a good work-life balance or professionals who pursue their craft without a family with complete fulfillment. In addition, the plot could serve as a cautionary tale against the pursuit of experimental physics, because, you know, scientists are evil and will justify their actions to perform their sinister deeds.

Recommended for action thriller fans who are not familiar with traditional scifi concepts. If you read this and love it, there is so much more down the scifi rabbit hole you will love!

“Imagine you’re a fish, swimming in a pond. You can move forward and back, side to side, but never up out of the water. If someone were standing beside the pond, watching you, you’d have no idea they were there. To you, that little pond is an entire universe. Now imagine that someone reaches down and lifts you out of the pond. You see that what you thought was the entire world is only a small pool. You see other ponds. Trees. The sky above. You realize you’re a part of a much larger and more mysterious reality than you had ever dreamed of.”