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Recursion: A Novel Hardcover – June 11, 2019
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“[Crouch] has sketched out the rules for a new reality. . . . [Recursion] has a thrumming pulse that moves beyond big ideas and into their effects on a larger, more complex world.”—NPR
“[Recursion] will keep you up all night—first because you can't stop reading it, and then because you can't stop thinking about it.”—BuzzFeed
“[An] epic page-turner.”—Good Housekeeping
“Quintessential SF . . . [features] wrenching emotional moments . . . tense and vivid action scenes . . . eminently rigorous and logical methodology and science . . . And yet you will not predict anything.”—Locus
“[A] fantastic philosophical thriller [with] ingenious plotting, cinematic action and unflappable characters.”—Minneapolis StarTribune
“Recursion will leave you breathless as it dives headfirst into a strange reality.”—PopSugar
“The fragile elements of time, identity, and memory intertwine in Crouch's unforgettable new sci-fi thriller. . . . A lightning-paced, techno-fantasy that lingers long after the last, mind-numbing page.”—SyFy Wire
“The smartest, most surprising thriller of the summer.”—BookPage
“Crouch isn’t just a world-class thriller writer, he’s a Philip K. Dick for the modern age. Recursion takes mind-twisting premises and embeds them in a deeply emotional story about time and loss and grief and most of all, the glory of the human heart.”—Gregg Hurwitz, #1 internationally bestselling author of the Orphan X series
“Blake Crouch has invented his own brand of page-turner—fearlessly genre-bending, consistently surprising, and determined to explode the boundaries of what a thriller can be.”—Karin Slaughter, #1 internationally bestselling author of Pieces of Her
“Brilliant. Crouch’s innovative novels never fail to grip!”—Sarah Pekkanen, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl
“A masterful mind-bender of a novel. Crouch brilliantly infuses his story with dire repercussions and unexpected moral upheaval, and leaves you wondering what you would do if you had the chance to turn back the clock.”—Mark Sullivan, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Private series and author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky
“Cutting-edge science drives this intelligent, mind-bending thriller. . . . Crouch effortlessly integrates sophisticated philosophical concepts—such as the relationship of human perceptions of what is real to actual reality—into a complex and engrossing plot. Michael Crichton’s fans won’t want to miss this one.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Completely engrossing . . . highly recommended, especially for readers who enjoy suspenseful, fast-moving, well-crafted, science-based SF.”—Library Journal (starred review)
- Publisher : Ballantine Books; First Edition first Printing (June 11, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1524759783
- ISBN-13 : 978-1524759780
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #30,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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If you read Crouch’s previous outing, Dark Matter, then you have a fair idea of what to expect with Recursion. While the former dealt with alternate realities, the latter tackles the issue of False Memory Syndrome…or at least that’s where things begin. As Crouch plumbs the fallibility and flexibility of memories and a startlingly bright premise of how and where such false memories could originate from, this sucker takes on more wrinkles than Einstein’s brain.
The bulk of Recursion is told through the perspective of two central characters, Detective Barry Sutton and Dr. Helena Smith. Smith is a neuroscientist seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s in the hope of curing her’s mother terminal descent into dementia. Her plan is construct a machine that can record a person’s most valued memories for posterity. Sutton, meanwhile, is investigating the devastating rise of False Memory reports following his failure to prevent a woman’s suicide. The woman, Ann Voss Peters, couldn’t handle the mental rewiring of her memories as she was forced to reconcile the life she thought she knew with the radically different life she suddenly remembers. The deeper Sutton’s investigation goes, the more he learns…and the more questions he uncovers. It potent, heady stuff, and then Crouch, as he’s wont to do, turns it all sideways, upside down, and shakes the ever-loving hell out of it.
Now, I have to tell you, flat-out, that discussing anything more about Recursion would have me wading up to my neck in spoiler territory so I’m going to avoid discussing any of the plot’s specifics. I will say, though, that what Sutton and Smith get up to and the forces they confront are every bit as twisty and turny as the cover image’s infinite loop and the maze etched inside that figure-eight.
Crouch is a master at delivering a bonkers, high-concept story that’s easily accessible, but which also mocks the entire idea of being simple. Tackling a subject like False Memory Syndrome is a storytelling mine filled with diamond-encrusted potential, but Crouch takes it into next-gen territory, leveling up his premise with each successive chapter. There’s a heavy load of physics at play here, and the author utilizes Newton’s third law regarding action/reaction magnificently. Consequences build and build and build before erupting with glorious devastation in a climax that cranks things up to eleven. And then twelve. And then thirteen. And then, amidst so much rich, chewy brain-candy, he delivers a tear-jerker denouement that goes straight for the heart.
Recursion is high on action and moves along with the speed of a bullet train, but all its most potent brawn comes straight from the brain. I don’t know what Crouch’s background is, but having read several of his prior novels I’m now pretty damn well convinced the dude is a diabolical genius. Crouch is smart, damn smart, and he knows how to leverage all those hugely cerebral ideas into rapid-fire page-turners of science fiction gold. His are the types of books I don’t just read, but devour and am immediately left hungry for more. Whatever he’s cooking up next, I am more than ready for it.
[Note: I received an ARC of this from the publisher via NetGalley. I immediately ordered the hardcover from Amazon.]
I’ve been reading Crouch for a long while. His earlier works were masterpieces of horror, often with no little or supernatural aspects (try ABANDON, for example). RECURSION is solid sci-fi dealing with such heady topics (heh heh) as the nature of memory, neuroscience, time, physics, philosophy and more. It starts with a plague of FMS, “False Memory Syndrome”, as one of the main protagonists, NYPD cop Barry Sutton is called to the scene of an impending suicide who suddenly remembers a totally different life than the one she is living. This FMS seems to be becoming something of a plague, and the number of suicides is rapidly rising. The novel explodes forwards from there. The other principal, Helena Smith, is a neuroscientist working on the neurophysiology of memory, in large part to try and build a device that could record her mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease mother's memories before they disappear forever. The sequela of her invention has implications that question our concepts of time, reality, the multiverse and more.
I could not put the novel down, and read the whole thing in about 24 hours with 8 or so hours of sleep intercalated.
Most Highly Recommended.
ps. In response to a really mean-spirited one star review that destroyed that science in the novel, I’d like to admit that I am a Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience at Rutgers and I thought ALL of the science and philosophy was spot on and very timely.
Top reviews from other countries
The novel opens with Barry Sutton, an NYPD officer, trying to coax a distraught woman away from the edge of a Manhattan rooftop as she tells him of her pain at remembering a life she never lived. "My son has been erased," are the final words she says to Barry before throwing herself off the building. This event is the catalyst that leads Barry to further investigation into a bizarre, unexplained condition called False Memory Syndrome (FMS) which causes people to develop memories of things that never actually happened.
His investigation takes him down a path of shocking discovery with implications that could change the world forever.
Sound vague? Well, this is a story you'll want to dive into without knowing a lot. It makes the many revelations and twists better - the same with DM.
With a narrative built around questions of memory and consciousness, I found the descriptions of the characters' memories particularly vivid and convincingly tangible. I also liked that the story was told completely in the present tense as it made the scenes feel as though they were happening in the present moment and helped bring them to life.
Recursion is perhaps more relevant to today than DM was, as there are references to things like the Mandela Effect, deja vu, and a recent real-life experiment where scientists successfully manipulated the memories of mice. Because these are things that have recently circulated pop culture, things people are familiar with, these references add a layer of realism to the story.
The stakes are colossal, the characters are the perfect propelling forces of the story, and the big reveals are placed at exactly the right moments. Crouch is talented at putting super complicated ideas - involving things like quantum particle physics - into words in such a way that they are digestible to readers who aren't scientifically inclined. Recursion does get a tad convoluted and confusing towards the middle of the book, but this is probably inevitable with the scale and complexity of the ideas within it.
I hope Crouch continues to write more books in this goldmine-of-a-niche he seems to have struck. They are gripping and unlike any other books I have read.
Fantastic characters, thrilling, complex plot line and compelling story that leaves you racing to the end and then sorry that you did because then it's all over!
Besides all that amazingness Mr Crouch explores fascinating science and physics and leaves you questioning and thoughtful about our place in the Universe, and about the passage of time itself, in fact does time even exist?
Like many science fiction novels they pave the way for new and exciting steps forward in science development and Recusion is no different, already there are similar experiments on memory capture being made! Who knows what the future holds, but let's hope its not the downfall of mankind!
Highly recommended read.
How in hell such a colossal yet effortlessly evolving plot manifested from anyone’s brain I guess I’ll never know. But I am convinced their house is wallpapered in trillions of Post-It notes and they can’t have slept for at least five years.
The timeline is never-ending loop that is over-written with almost every page turn. As a result it contains a bounty of memories forged by characters whose intentions form the tip of a ruddy great iceberg of unforeseeable consequences.
Interfering with the natural order of events will certainly raise moral eyebrows everywhere, particularly as the ordinary folk featured in this tale are carried along by events but are unable to process the overlapping confusion that ensues.
In short, this book is a crisscrossing, mind-melting imagining of mammoth proportions and I’m delighted to have stumbled across it by happy accident, as its concept commanded my full attention throughout. Would seek out this author again for sure.
The time travel genre is one that has been overworked. This book takes a novel approach to the subject that will keep you turning the pages as the main characters attempt to solve a terrifying conundrum and rescue humanity's future.
There are very few books that have affected my dreams, but this is one of them. Another reviewer called this novel "The best science fiction ever written". That may or may not be true, but it's certainly up there as one of the best I have read.