Recursion by Blake Crouch

I am a huge fan of the Book of the Month monthly subscription – every month I promise myself I’ll only get one book, but every month I end up maxing out my box. I love comparing with other people about what they chose for their monthly read – and Recursion seemed like the hot book of  June 2019. So without reading the summary or knowing much about it I picked it.

Memory makes reality.

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

That’s what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

I’ll be honest for a second, another reason I picked this book up was because I’m a computer engineer and recursion is a major style of programming. Big nerd moment. The plot of Recursion lends itself to reading it in one sitting. I imagine if you didn’t, or if you read it over a longer period of time, you might start to forget and lose the threads of the plot. I found myself highly invested very quickly – right off the bat from Barry’s first case of the woman who had memories that didn’t belong to her. It’s highly intriguing, complicated at times, and overall a great thriller with very real, tense stakes. I don’t want to give too much away, but be ready for a book that is completely unique and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The pacing is unparalleled and you get a lot of story (and a complex, well developed plot) in a relatively short book.

I loved hearing how Barry and Helena’s stories slowly intertwined – it was a slow burn and absolutely worth the wait for the payoff. Barry’s a man going through an incredibly hard time in his life – his only daughter died tragically and he’s recently divorced. He’s overly invested in his job – which seems to be the only thing keeping him afloat. Barry is a deeply complex character and the book really delves into his history and his motivators without slowing the plot down. Helena, on the other hand, is an overly ambitious scientist who takes a shady deal with an uber-rich businessman in exchange for funding for her latest project. She’s the creator of the technologies that fuels the rest of the story-line and the book spends the time exploring what that means to her and how her life is changed by it. I wasn’t expecting a love story in this book, but the one between Barry and Helena only added emotional investment to the plot and didn’t slow down the incredible pacing.

If you loved Ready Player Onethis book will be right up your alley – it’s a fast-paced, mind bending thriller with a nice science fiction twist. It’s not overwhelming sci-fi, in fact, it’s pretty light – both fans of sci-fi and those who don’t enjoy the genre will find themselves loving this book. I know I’ll definitely be rereading it in a year or two (hopefully I’ll forget some of the twists so I can enjoy them all over again). 5/5

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15 Comments

  1. Excellent review! I’ll admit, based on the cover alone, this doesn’t seem like a book I’d pick up. But after reading your review it sounds intriguing 🙂 I think it’s now going on my TBR list!

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