It’s difficult to write about a Blake Crouch novel without an endless stream of deep, existential thoughts and sheer awe that one person could possess so much imagination and talent. Here’s my best attempt…
Recursion is another time travel masterpiece from the mind of Blake Crouch, taking us into a world where the very understanding of timelines changes drastically. We follow two characters, one who is central to this monumental technology, another who happens to find himself at the center thanks to a strange series of events. Crouch never falters in his storytelling, seamlessly transitioning between timelines, stretching decades in either direction. This is a story that will blow your mind and you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to get immersed in this wild ride. I picked it up and plowed straight through to the epic conclusion.
Trek no further if you want nothing spoiled…
I’m honestly floored by how much Recursion changes the concept of diverging timelines in relation to time travel. With most books, events change and most people aren’t aware of alternate timelines. Time travelers hide in alleyways, going on their missions, shaping the future in ways that benefit whatever organization they work for. In this instance, everyone remembers everything. All timelines converge at the moment things were changed, creating a catastrophic explosion of consequences each time. That concept is baffling to imagine. People begin to go insane, the world begins to fall apart, and everything collapses. What starts as an exciting technology with world-changing implications quickly becomes pure horror as millions mentally deteriorate in a matter of minutes. It’s shocking to imagine and, with each failed attempt to save the future, a fearful ending to the book looms.
Crouch has a way of connecting you to his characters on a deeply emotional level. One moment, you’re reading a story and the next, you’re anxiously flying through pages to see if this new acquaintance survives. The two main characters are multilayered at the start and, as they continue to live more versions of the same life, their experiences grow more complicated. By the end, it’s nearly impossible to imagine what each person must be feeling as five or ten or twenty streams of memories come crashing down on them. To see lost children and spouses, missed opportunities and untimely deaths would be shocking, to say the least. Just trying to picture it while reading is discombobulating. Through it all, a deep love story emerges, one that has spanned over a century of combined time. It’s anything but perfect, filled with repeated fights and struggles, but watching Helena and Barry grow closer gives the book the final spark it needs to gain perfection.
I could go on and on discussing the brilliance of this novel and Crouch as a writer. Overall, Recursion is another brilliant addition to his catalog, giving us a story that begs to be discussed for weeks with anyone who will listen. He’s undoubtedly one of the greatest science fiction writers of our time.
By Blake Crough
Published by Crown
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.