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.
Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. 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?
Author: Blake Crouch | Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Just like Dark Matter, Recursion was a science-rich and super-thrilling sci-fi thriller. If nothing sounds better to you than those two genres put together, then this is definitely your book. I whipped through it, intrigued and introspective in the beginning and more and more eager to see how everything would resolve itself as I got close to the end. Genre fiction at its best.
We have two main characters: Barry, whose story starts in 2018, and Helena, whose story starts in 2007. In 2018, “False Memory Syndrome” is starting to cause confusion and wreak havoc on people’s minds. They suddenly have two sets of memories; one in the world they live in, and one in a world that doesn’t. But the memories are super-detailed; it’s not just big life moments, but tiny ones too. An entire life that they remember suddenly.
After Barry has to confront a woman with FMS who wants to throw herself off a building because her “false” life was rich with love and family and her “real” life is not, he goes down a rabbit hole to figure out what’s causing all this, and finds himself right in the thick of it.
Helena, on the other hand, is a neuroscientist who wants to help Alzheimer’s patients by helping them access, “save,” and then recreate / re-remember their memories. She has huge dreams and no budget … until a bazillionaire tech guy scoops her up and funds all her work. What she discovers will literally change the world forever.
This book is entirely plot-driven; there’s a bit of character development, but only enough to feed the story. Not much attention is paid to broader issues, like Alzheimer’s, except again to feed the story. But still, it’s a really exciting, gripping read. I found myself in the very beginning suddenly doubting everything that was happening — is what Helena experiencing in the past real, or FMS? WTF is going on here? What can I trust, what can I believe?
I did feel like the ending was a bit too drawn out. I expected it to conclude at any second … for like 100 pages. This was intriguing at first, but eventually it was a little exasperating. I just wanted it to be over already, and that’s what kept me going in that moment. Maybe it was supposed to feel like that a little bit, but I felt like instead of what was probably six or seven “attempts” at an ending, I would have been happy with more like two or three. (This will make more sense after you read it.)
All in all, a fun palette cleanser to place between heavier reads, and top-notch escapism. Definitely worth a read!