What if someone could rewrite your entire life?
`My son has been erased.’
Those are the last words the woman tells Barry Sutton before she leaps from the Manhattan rooftop.
Deeply unnerved, Barry begins to investigate her death only to learn that this wasn’t an isolated case. All across the country, people are waking up to lives different from the ones they fell asleep to. Are they suffering from False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious, new disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived? Or is something far more sinister behind the fracturing of reality all around him?
Miles away, neuroscientist Helena Smith is developing a technology that allows us to preserve our most intense memories and relive them. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss or the birth of a child.
Barry’s search for the truth leads him on an impossible, astonishing journey as he discovers that Helena’s work has yielded a terrifying gift . . .
Recursion follows NYPD detective Barry Sutton and scientist Helena Smith, whose lives are enormously altered by ground-breaking technology that changes the way humans will think of the past, present and future – can a memory become our reality?
Recursion is the younger and fresher sibling of Minority Report and Inception, and for fans of those stories, this will be a must-read.
This is not an easily digestible read because the plot is mind-bending. If you aren’t a science/technology person, like me, there will undoubtedly be moments of confusion, but it is understandable if you don’t overthink it.
Whilst I wasn’t entirely enamoured with Barry and Helena, or the any of the other characters on an appraisal-worthy-scale, Crouch managed to make this an emotional read by tapping into the emotion of personal tragedies – I didn’t care about the characters, but I cared about the misfortunes life handed them (I hope that makes sense).
Crouch also successfully captured a tone that reflected a “the end of the world as we know it” vibe. The real magnitude of the threats and implications the technological revelation led to, made this thrilling and obsessive.
My favourite element of this book is the way it gave my cognition a good exercise. It challenged me to think about things I don’t think about on a daily basis; science-y stuff, philosophical stuff and how I generally see the world as I know it: what more will we uncover via science? Have our scientific and technological break throughs been good or bad? Can we evolve beyond our destructive tendencies? Evolve beyond our limits?
This really does engage an existential thought process, weighing up the pros and cons of the story’s hypothetical development on a real-life application.
My least favourite aspects of this book were its tone and repetition. Toward the ending there was repetition that made me impatient for the story to end, because the plot just kept repeating itself over and over to a point where I felt it weakened the quality of the plot. Similarly, near the story’s end, I felt there was a terribly morbid tone that was not elevated enough to recover from the melancholy that was created.
Overall, I read this within three days and I’m giving it 4 stars. I’m quite pleased I picked this up, because sci-fi isn’t my usual go-to genre. I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it because it was thrilling and thought-provoking. I don’t know if I’d recommend this to non-sci-fi buffs like me, who’s happy to admit I’m ignorant to all things physics. However, the philosophical and real-life consequences that Recursion explored, hit home with a thorough and emotional impact, that ensures this story is well worth reading and won’t be forgotten soon.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
Genre: sci-fi, thriller, mystery
Publication: June 2019
*Thank you kindly to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an e-copy, in exchange for this honest review.