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Recursion

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the bestselling author of Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines trilogy comes a relentless thriller about time, identity, and memory—his most mind-boggling, irresistible work to date, and the inspiration for Shondaland’s upcoming Netflix film.

“Gloriously twisting . . . a heady campfire tale of a novel.”—The New York Times Book Review

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time • NPR • BookRiot


Reality is broken.

At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery—and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.

In New York City, Detective Barry Sutton is closing in on the truth—and in a remote laboratory, neuroscientist Helena Smith is unaware that she alone holds the key to this mystery . . . and the tools for fighting back.

Together, Barry and Helena will have to confront their enemy—before they, and the world, are trapped in a loop of ever-growing chaos.

336 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 11, 2019

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About the author

Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of the forthcoming novel, Dark Matter, for which he is writing the screenplay for Sony Pictures. His international-bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy was adapted into a television series for FOX, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, that was Summer 2015’s #1 show. With Chad Hodge, Crouch also created Good Behavior, the TNT television show starring Michelle Dockery based on his Letty Dobesh novellas. He has written more than a dozen novels that have been translated into over thirty languages and his short fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Crouch lives in Colorado with his family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 23,876 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,068 reviews38.1k followers
December 8, 2022
Congratulations for winning of best sci-fi category from goodreads choice awards 2020! This is one of my favorite books of the year!

Five OMG I’m suffering from brain cells bleeding and explosion of my last standing grey cells, what the hell I just read and who am I ? stars!

I know the drill but let me rephrase one more time! This is not an easy, soft, sunshine and rainbows reading!

In my opinion people who are brave enough to dive into this journey should put themselves an IQ test and discover their cognitive skills. ( luckily I read the quantum physics for dummies before the beginning but I feel like I can be great cast for future dumb and dumber movie if they will ever produce the third installment)

So this book is amazing combination of time traveling, alternated lifetimes, Minority Reports meet Groundhog Day versus Black Mirror and Back to the Future kinda fascinating science fiction crashes into thriller and romance starting with an effective and memorable suicide attempt scene.
A woman suffers from FMS ( false memory syndrome) who thinks her child was being erased, her husband denied her existence so there was nothing better than jump and end her life. But she had small hope in her heart, her husband could come to rescue her but when he didn’t show up, she didn’t want to fight anymore and.... Yes, this book starts with jaw dropping scene and you’re hooked!

It’s addictive, unputdownable, nerve damaging, exhausting ride! You wanna know what’s going to happen and think about yourself if I had a chance to save my loved ones by turning back and making my wrongs turn into rights, what would happen!

Saving her daughter from the traffic accident, curing your mother’s Alzheimer disease, prevention of school shooting , saving soldiers from the terrorist attacks are just the samples writer show as in alternative realities that have possible to be changed!

The difference of Recursion from Dark Matter might be romance parts because I really enjoyed Barry and Helena’s love story. Not only they fought to bring universe into the right pattern but also they fought to get back together to be each other’s final word, everlasting love, end game!

This was thrilling, mind bending, provoking book!
Dark Matters is going to be Netflix series and I’m already sure that as a brain numbing project, this book finds its place at big screen on near future!

Highly recommended, smart, different, unique and exquisite book but not for everyone!

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
June 11, 2019
But what do you cling to, moment to moment, if memories can simply change. What, then, is real?

Imagine you woke up one morning and discovered that your entire life - your job, your kids, your friends, all your experiences - wasn't real. It still feels real. You remember it vividly. But you also suddenly remember another life; your real life. And you are told that the life you remember is a result of FMS (False Memory Syndrome)-- an illusion created by your brain.

I don't know about you, but that thought is horrifying.

In this book, New York City cop Barry Sutton investigates the suicide of a woman with FMS. She killed herself after trying to make contact with the husband from her false memories and finding him married with a child. How strange it is that she remembers an entire life with a man who exists, but he doesn't seem to remember her at all. Barry finds himself needing answers.

Eleven years earlier, neuroscientist Helena Smith conceives of a technology that can preserve memories and could eventually be a cure for the Alzheimer's that is stealing away her mother's mind. Funded by a mysterious billionaire, Helena builds something that enables people to relive their precious memories. But she never foresees the darker side of the project-- the side that triggers an unraveling of, not only the past, but reality itself.

Needless to say, these two stories collide and it is some mind-bendingly awesome stuff. Crouch has written yet another weird, compelling and oddly romantic book. Like Dark Matter, you can expect this book to get bigger and wilder than you ever imagined before even a hint of a solution rears its head.

I do also really enjoy how the author brings a lot of heart to these sci-fi thrillers. Sometimes sci-fi books feel a little cold and emotionally-distant, but Recursion is ultimately a very emotional and human story. Stories about memories really get to me, because our memories and experiences make us who we are. I am my memories. And one of the saddest things I can think of is not being remembered by someone you love deeply.

A thrilling story with very moving moments.

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Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
525 reviews56.7k followers
September 2, 2020
UPDATE: IT'S OUT!! Go read it so we can all gush about it!!

(4.5) As always, Crouch knows how to keep you on your toes and does a great job at mixing thriller and sci-fi genre.

A mysterious disease starts affecting people’s memory, giving them memories of a life they never lived. NYPD detective Barry Sutton is trying to investigated how the False Memory Syndrome is spreading and ultimately will come to face Helena Smith a neuroscientist who invented a device that’s changing the world.

Recursion will make you question time, memory and life.

While the characters and dialogues didn’t grab me from the start, I grew to care about them and their story more and more. By the end, I couldn’t put the book down.

The story also became a lot darker than I expected (which I loved!) and the concepts mentioned were fascinating.

If you’ve enjoyed Dark Matter by him, I recommend you pick up this one.

Can’t wait to see the Netflix adaptation!

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews150k followers
January 6, 2022
me: *finishes reading any book by Blake Crouch*

me: hey what the fuck…..
me: [on the train] what the fuck…
me: [at dinner] what the fuck…
me: [trying to sleep] what the fuck….
me: [in the shower] what the fuck….
me: [breathing] whAt tHe FuCk
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,685 followers
June 20, 2019
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

Pink Floyd - Time


I am just going to say it – Blake Crouch is the King of Modern Speculative Science Fiction!

Here is your crown, Your Majesty! We are not worthy!

Imagine trying to follow up Dark Matter with something just as unique and mind blowing? I think I probably would have just stopped there if I had written it. The apex would have been reached. There is no way I could have topped it. Even trying would probably have fallen flat . . . feeling like I just could not have done any better.

To which Emperor Crouch says, “HOLD MY BEER!”

Recursion is just as mind blowingly unique as Dark Matter. And, much like Dark Matter I cannot say too much about why it is awesome and mind blowing without ruining it. So, I will give you an idea of in what way it blew my mind by comparing to a scene from an episode of Black Mirror. This comparison will not spoil Recursion, but it will spoil Black Mirror, so I will put it in a spoiler tag. If you have watched all Black Mirror episodes or don’t care about spoilers, you can click it without concern.

So, my mind was blown in the same way as Trying to wrap my brain around that scenario is the exact same type of brain wrapping I had going on with this book!

If you loved Dark Matter, you must read this!

If you love speculative fiction/sci-fi, you must read this!

I have no complaints, to me it is just as perfect as I thought Dark Matter was. The only downside is now I will have to wait a long time to see what King Crouch will do next!
Profile Image for Chelsea *Slowly Catching Up* Humphrey.
1,390 reviews77.2k followers
October 12, 2022
"Everything will look better in the morning. There will be hope again when the light returns. The despair is only an illusion, a trick the darkness plays."

I'm convinced that Blake Crouch is THE science fiction/fantasy author of our time. You know, the one that readers pre-order their books without reading the description, the one that 50 years from now people are still talking about, dissecting his plot points and their dual meanings? Yeah, that's Crouch. If you don't agree, then that's ok, I'll respect your opinion. But also, FIGHT ME. While I've enjoyed all of the author's novels to date, Dark Matter is the one that sealed the deal in making me a life long fan. (But also Desert Places) Recursion is another worthy entry in Crouch's SFF productions, and one that felt reminiscent of Dark Matter, which made me a very happy Chelsea. Yes, the plot is unique in it's own way, but it still gave off those complex vibes that are a cross between "exciting, high concept thriller" and "deep, emotional family drama".

"How would I know if one had changed? What would it feel like?"

The premise of this novel is simple: What would happen if the memories contained inside your mind had never occurred? I'm not entirely sure how the author devised the plot for this book, but I imagine it stemmed from a simple question, not altogether different from the one presented above. Once you've read the book, it's easy to see how an entire novel could spring from such an innocent thought. It's clear that Crouch has a way with writing sagas that pull the heartstrings, because all of his ideas that evolve into stories are a delicate balance of intellectually stimulating action and moving, emotional love mingled with loss. The kicker is that the author knows how to write a science fiction that seems so dangerously close to reality, you find yourself turning the last page, shaking your head and chuckling because that could NEVER happen, but secretly wondering if it possibly could.

If you enjoyed Dark Matter and its extraordinary premise, you'll likely fall head over heels for Recursion as well. A few of the same concepts are used in both novels, but each of these books are truly a labor of love in their own, unique way. Once again, I have found myself floored at how a person's mind could concoct such a brilliant scheme, and I'm looking forward to finding out where Crouch chooses to take us next.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Petrik.
654 reviews39.9k followers
August 16, 2021
Recursion has become the first sci-fi standalone to be included in my favorite shelves.

As many readers probably did, my first experience with reading Crouch’s work was for Dark Matter. I was super impressed by it and after hearing that the author has a new sci-fi thriller that’s highly recommended for readers who loved Dark Matter gave me so much joy; it would be insane for me to not take a look at Recursion. Do note that taking a look at Crouch’s novel can be surmised as reading the novel non-stop until completion. This book was undoubtedly exceptional; it was so good that it made Dark Matter—which I loved and rated 4.5/5 stars—felt like a practice novel so that Crouch has the skill to unleash the full capacity of his brain towards the creation of this cleverly crafted insanity.

Two central characters drive the plot. The first main character is Barry Sutton, a cop that’s investigating the mysterious phenomenon dubbed as False Memory Syndrome (FMS)—a phenomenon that drives its victims insane with false memories of a life they never lived. The other main character, Helena Smith, is a neuroscientist that understands the importance of memory; she decides to dedicate her life to create a technology that could preserve any moment of the recipient’s memories. This is pretty much all I can say regarding the general premise. Reviewing Crouch’s book is not an easy task; there’s a huge limitation on how much of the plot I can talk about unless I risk spoiling something and I don’t want that. To avoid spoilers, I will say this: Recursion is a sci-fi thriller about memories and how precious they are in defining humanity and their sense of identity. Imbued inside this resonating theme was an addictive story about love, loss, ambition, redemption, and life.

“Life is nothing how he expected it would be when he was young and living under the delusion that things could be controlled. Nothing can be controlled. Only endured.”


When I started this book, I knew I would be thoroughly engaged by it and Crouch exceeded my high expectations brilliantly. Crouch outstandingly proved that he’s super capable of writing a fast-paced story that doesn’t neglect crucial characterizations. Dark Matter was thought-provoking and this book held similar philosophical discussions about life and choices but honestly speaking, Recursion resonated more with me because I believe that Crouch has improved as an author; his prose was extremely well-polished and the characters were more fleshed out. I truly didn’t expect this novel to be this evocative and large-scale. There were moments where I felt genuinely sad, terrified, and heart-warmed by what the characters went through. The poignant thought-provoking passages made me reflect on life; the gradual increase in stakes and scope that eventually became more destructive and global as the story progressed fully stole my attention cover to cover. I’ve been having difficulties in my life, it’s almost as if this book appeared at the right timing to brighten my mood by teaching me how to think better moving forward; I’m truly grateful for it.

“Life with a cheat code isn’t life. Our existence isn’t something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain. That’s what it is to be human—the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other.”


Recursion was relentlessly thrilling, unpredictable, and mind-blowing. Crouch’s narrative was utterly unputdownable, the harrowing events displayed were enormously impactful, and I absolutely loved every moment of reading this vivid magnificence. I can vouch with certainty that Recursion broke a new milestone for me by becoming the first sci-fi standalone to be included in my ‘favorites’ shelves with a full 5/5 stars rating. Read this breathtaking novel as soon as you can. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Sidenote:
I heard Recursion is currently being planned for TV series adaptation by Netflix and I'm so excited for it!


You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
Profile Image for Yun.
505 reviews18k followers
October 20, 2022
Oh gosh, I'm slightly shocked that I didn't love Recursion. I've been looking forward to this ever since I read Dark Matter, so to say I'm a bit disappointed is an understatement.

(Note: As usual, this is a 100% spoiler-free review. However, I couldn't talk about the book without referencing some events in it, so I've very carefully spoiler-tagged everything. You are safe to proceed if you haven't read the book. Just don't click on the spoilers.)

The premise is certainly intriguing enough. Detective Sutton is investigating False Memory Syndrome, where the victims suddenly come into possession of vivid, intense memories of lives they've never lived. Ten years prior to that, we also follow scientist Helena Smith as she works on creating technology that will allow dementia patients to store memories and access them at a later date.

That all sounds good, but then we get to the crux of the science for this book: This is explained by some odd interpretations of quantum mechanics, but the explanation doesn't actually work for me. Obviously, being that this science fiction, there's a lot of leeway on what could be real. But unfortunately, the way it's explained in the book can't ever be real. Also, the science doesn't make sense, even within the book's universe.

The story is very ambitious, maybe a little too much so. Along with the scientific impossibility, there's also a lot of scientific jargon and philosophical musings meant to sell the reader on this idea. But it just comes across as a lot of mumbo jumbo, at least to me.

However, I'm willing to stop being a wet blanket and suspend my scientific disbelief, if only the rest of the story was great. But the rest was over-the-top too. The thrills felt artificially amped up, with lots of random craziness thrown in just to keep it all going. It soon became exhausting. This happened multiple times. My eyes rolled so hard, I might've bruised them.

No doubt following up Dark Matter is a tough task. And I wonder how much of my feelings of this book is tangled up in my love for Dark Matter and my high expectations going into this. Also, writing about is extremely challenging, and this just didn't gel together into a cohesive story for me.

Still, even for all my complaints, I guess I did find it to be decently entertaining, if a bit silly, for the most part.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
See also, my thoughts on:
Dark Matter
Upgrade
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.6k followers
June 17, 2019
Creative. Though-provoking. Emotionally-charged. Memorable.

Whether you’re a reader that frequents the sci-fi genre, or one that only occasionally takes a risk when it comes to the suspension of disbelief (hello, that’s me!), recognizing and appreciating the level of creativity behind Blake Crouch’s work takes little effort. Time and again, Crouch has proven just how rewarding it can be to take a chance on something different. Something totally outside of my typical. With Dark Matter (one of my all-time favorite books) and now Recursion, Crouch presents readers with a mind-bending reality. While each book provides its own unique and fully immersive journey, they share the provocation of deep thought and emotion on the part of the reader.

Fair or not, my feelings for Dark Matter sent me into Recursion with the highest of hopes. Hopes that I thought were going to be shattered early on when focusing felt undoable. A science guru I am not. Wrapping my head around what these characters were trying to achieve with memory recalibration, while simultaneously trying to foreshadow how Crouch would tie the two timelines together, felt taxing on my brain. So much so, I had to take a breath for a few days. Following that brief timeout, I did would I should have from the beginning. Instead of trying to make sense of it all—way too early on—I handed the reins back to Crouch and put my faith in his ability to tell an unforgettable story. And sure enough, along the same vein as Dark Matter, there was no walking away unscathed or unmoved by his words or these characters.

The first tease of the storylines converging was all it took for the pitter-patter of this idealistic heart of mine to speed up. And wouldn’t you know, the two characters in question not only managed to steal my heart, but to hold it captive for the entirety of the remaining pages. It was with hope, fear, and bated breath that this lover of love watched the couple’s pilgrimage play out. There’s something to be said for Crouch’s ability to relay a love story of this caliber within such an intricate and science-based thriller. There are romance authors out there who fail to pull off such an unwavering love; one that transcends several iterations, at that.

“My soul knows your soul. In any time.”


From the very beginning to beyond the final words, Crouch’s exploration of memory, and what it would mean to have the ability to go back and undo those moments that tether our pain, proves to be more than just imaginative fiction.

Life with a cheat code isn’t life. Our existence isn’t something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain.

That’s what it is to be human—the beauty
and the pain, each meaningless without the other.


*Thanks to my #bookbestie Haley for sending me a gorgeous ARC and for ensuring that I didn’t miss out on this mighty piece of fiction. ♥
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
306 reviews2,324 followers
May 3, 2019
FIVE MIND-BENDING STARS

Book readers tend to throw around words like “addictive” and “unputdownable”. But, I'm dead serious about those words. And guys, I’m here to tell you, I read RECURSION straight through dinner last night until I finished at three am this morning. What an intelligent and freakin’ addictive thriller!

The first half sets up the rest of the book and it is crucial to read carefully and try to understand the very simple quantum physics necessary to travel around in time. LOL.😂

I finally thought I had the timelines straight in my mind (without the use of a giant white board)--I wanted to keep it straight, so I read. And read. And cried. And marveled. And cried again. And closed the Kindle. And kept thinking and marveling and sighing.

Who doesn’t want a do-over in life? Personally, I don’t trust anyone that says they live with no regrets. Even if you consider yourself a perfect specimen, I guarantee you have deeply hurt someone’s feelings or perhaps grieved the loss of a loved one. If those aren’t regrets, then you may be a sociopath.

What if you could go back through your memories and “fix” them? Change events in order to protect children, countries, civilizations.

This is the question RECURSION poses to the reader. As wonderful an idea as this is, there are, of course, consequences to changing history. Blake Crouch turns his incredible imagination loose in his latest thriller and your mind will be racing trying to keep up him.

RECURSION is set in 2007 and 2018, this isn’t futuristic. Helene, our genius scientist, works to discover a cure for Alzheimer’s and you will find yourself constantly wondering if this memory recapture business is actually a real thing now. (IT IS. READ THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS IN THE BACK!).

I love sci-fi that reads like it could be factual. I love sci-fi with colorful, endearing characters. I love sci-fi with the entire world’s future at stake and these two characters must save us. I love sci-fi when those two characters carry on an epic love story to end all love stories. ❤️

I love RECURSION. I think I love it more than Dark Matter. And I never thought I would say that!

Hey, all you influential readers: this is still available on NetGalley! Grab it before it is too late! NETFLIX already bought the movie rights and it is gonna be HUGE!!. Many thanks to the publisher and the author for allowing me to read and review the advanced copy of RECURSION. All opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
376 reviews2,809 followers
January 1, 2023
Blake Crouch does it again!

Barry Sutton is working as a New York City cop when he receives a call about a woman with False Memory Syndrome, ready to jump from a building. She is remembering a prior life that she never had. What will Barry discover in his investigation?

Helena Smith is a neuroscientist working on a device that can preserve memories. She hopes to be able to save her ailing mother or at least record her memories before her mind deteriorates. Will she be successful and what is her connection to Barry?

Honestly, I would try to go into this novel knowing as little as possible.

Haha and yet you are still reading. Love it.

As a reader, I really appreciate Blake Crouch. And, as a writer, I have even more respect for him. His books are super readable. He has short paragraphs and short sentences. The pages just fly by. You don’t have to slog through anything with Crouch. He is a textbook example of an author who has evolved with the times.

The storytelling is top notch. Recursion is one of those books where I promised only to read one more page and 5 pages later… Even when I wasn't reading this book, I was thinking about reading this book.

Crouch’s creativity is simply mind boggling. Every time I read one of his books, I think I know where the book is going, and he just takes the book in a completely different direction. Not only does he take the book in a different direction, but he pushes the boundaries of imagination. He always makes me think. Even given 100 lifetimes, I could not come up with Crouch’s creativity. He is creativity amplified!

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Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,035 reviews2,572 followers
July 1, 2022
I'm looking forward to reading more books by Blake Crouch because I enjoyed Recursion so much. We follow NYPD Barry Sutton and neuroscientist Helena Smith through decades and decades and decades of memories. They know the world is being destroyed due to Helena's invention and they try over and over to stop the destruction, with heartbreaking results, each time.

Helena invented a "memory" chair that was intended to allow a person to save memories for later when they might be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer disease. But Helena is running out of time and funding, to complete the project, until she is contacted by a secret benefactor, who is willing to give her everything she needs to finish her project. At the same time, Barry is encountering suicides due to False Memory Syndrome and his investigations set him on a path that collides with Helena's invention.

I didn't let the technical and scientific talk hold me back from enjoying this book. I trusted the scientists and the characters, who studied the phenomena that was taking place, to provide the details I needed to carry the plot forward. What I really liked about the book were the characters of Helena, a woman so focused on her work that she rarely looked up, and Barry, father of a dead girl, who was never going to get over the heartache of losing his daughter. As these two characters come together, more than once, their concern for the welfare of others and their relationship with each other, kept me reading to the very end.

Pub June 11, 2019

Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Debbie.
424 reviews2,685 followers
July 19, 2019
The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.

That’s an editor’s joke and it always cracks me up; I love how clever it is. Well, with this book, the past, present, and future walked into my head, and it was tense, all right, but not a good tense. It was tense because I was friggin’ confused. And nothing about it cracked me up or made me think it was clever.

Well, I lie. At the beginning I was all gung-ho. The opening scene is a killer—a likeable cop, Barry, is trying to talk a woman off a ledge. He’s a good cop with a painful past. And the other main character is also likeable: a scientist, Helena, who created a chair so that people who sat in it could restore their memories—she hoped to help her mom, who had Alzheimer’s. There also is an evil guy who has very bad chair plans. The chair is a big, big deal.

At the beginning, there are just two timelines: a present, action-filled timeline, and a tantalizing one created by some cool thing called false memory syndrome, which possibly is contagious. Juicy, right? And at first, oh how I loved that chair! It was spiffy, inventive, magical, smart.

I was patting myself on the back because I was reading sci-fi, damn it, and I was loving it. This Crouch guy can write. Interesting characters, fast-moving plot. I’m so in.

Before I say anything else, I have to explain how I came about reading sci-fi—I who love literary and contemporary fiction. It’s simple: I was stupid—stupid not to have read the blurb. I pride myself in going into a book blind. No spoilers for me, no sirree. I want to be totally surprised. This time, though, I should have broken my rule and saved myself the pain of reading this book. Bad idea to go into it blind, bad idea.

So why did I choose this book in the first place? I blame it on the damn TV. I watched a smart series called Good Behavior, a show about a sexy hit man and his sexy con-woman girlfriend (Michelle Dockery from the TV series Downton Abbey). Every time the credits rolled at the end of an episode, I saw that the writer was Blake Crouch. Blake Crouch, Blake Crouch, Blake Crouch. Zap! Hit me with that cool name enough times, and it’s planted in my memory forever. So when I saw that he had just published Recursion, I thought, hey, why not read it? I loved his TV series. All jazzed, I figured I was settling into a clever crime drama. Wrong! Imagine my surprise when I realized immediately that it was sci-fi. How did I know the writer can do different genres? I’m innocent here.

This book went from a 5 to a 4 to a 3 to a 2, and so did the beloved chair. What a plunge! Wish it had been an exciting countdown instead of a case of falling stars. It was a slow decline at first, but by the last third of the book, I was a maniac. I wanted to be a bossy bitch and tell Barry and Helena to stand up and move, not sit still in that horrid chair. “No no no no no. Do not, I repeat, do not, sit in that chair one more time!!! Step away from the vehicle! You’ve been here and there and then back again just too many times! I’m sick of this! You’re driving me nuts!”

This chair that I once loved? Now I hated it with all my might. Every time they sat, they went to another timeline and the story got completely confusing. Memories were all over the place. We’re not just talking your garden-variety memories—there are false memories and dead memories, too. How was I expected to tell them apart? And to make matters worse, we were told to question reality: I couldn’t tell if the characters were in reality of any sort (and they couldn’t either). Did the past really happen the way they’re saying it did? Or were they in a fake past reality?

You’re supposed to be sad when a main character dies, it’s supposed to be a big deal. But in this book, who cares? You’ll probably see them alive in the next chapter! The characters die and get alive again so many times, it’s ridiculous. It was like they cried wolf too many times: “I died. Feel sorry for me. Just kidding, here I am again. Okay, this time I really did die. Ha! Fooled you again!” Now how can you care about the characters with this going on?!

Oh, and another peeve. Usually, when the characters went back to the past, they remembered the future, which you might expect, right? But sometimes they got all scared and acted like they were clueless about what would happen next. Huh? Why were they scared when they knew the outcome? This just seemed like bad writing, and it bugged me to death.

I know there are people who bounced back and forth through memories and timelines and had a hell of a good time reading this book. I just wasn’t one of them. I wish I could just sit here in my regular (but nonetheless spiffy) chair and erase the memory of reading this book!

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,155 reviews36.2k followers
June 5, 2019
3 Stars.

What can I say about Blake Crouch’s new book Recursion? Well, it’s got “a Whole Lotta Crazy Going On!”

Can you say, do-over? Are your memories to be trusted? What happens if your memories are replaced with new ones and you keep re-living your life over and over?


Just ask NYPD Detective Barry Sutton, whose life has been in tatters for the last several years, ever since the death of his daughter Meghan. When he is called to the scene of a potential suicide, he learns of something called “False Memory Syndrome.” Ann Peters Voss claims that the life she is living now is not her original, true life. She states that she was once married to someone else and that she had a son and now, in this life, he ceases to exist. At first, Barry finds Ms. Voss’ claims to be incredulous, until the same thing happens to him.

Helena is the Scientist who is responsible for False Memory Syndrome. She finds a way to travel back in time to change memories and in the end, the world. For her, it started innocently, but then doesn’t it always?

Timelines shift, reality becomes obsolete. Human nature takes over.

“Recursion” by Blake Crouch is a novel that was highly intriguing at first, with characters who I was wholly invested in and then became way too technical for me, thereby losing my interest. I personally love Sci-Fi. I read a decent amount of it and tend to watch a lot more Sci Fi on television than anything else, and yet, I felt like Recursion, missed the mark as the novel wore on. The characters are what drew me into the story, yet around the mid-point of the novel the focus on the characters was lost when the timelines kept shifting, which became difficult to keep track of.

What Blake Crouch excelled at in “Dark Matter,” was crafting a well-executed, highly entertaining story about what could have been a difficult subject to understand - and instead he made it extremely easy to comprehend, while including extremely captivating characters to boot. “Dark Matter” was unputdownable! Sadly, “Recursion” was much more difficult to follow and the characters simply didn’t pull me in.

I read “Recursion” with my book buddy Kaceey. I think it might be the first true Science Fiction book we have read together. I loved our discussions about it and look forward to seeing how we feel about other Sci Fi books we read in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley, Crown Publishing and Blake Crouch for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on Goodreads and NetGalley on 6.5.19.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews8,999 followers
November 20, 2022
A Neuroscientific Thriller for the record books. I feel like I just awoke from a fever dream. Recursion, wow!



What in the actual heck just happened?!



The possibility of this fictional scenario playing out in a future world is utterly terrifying to me. Can you even imagine?

Maybe you don't know what Recursion is about. Honestly, I am not sure I am the person to tell you what it's about, but I shall give it a whirl.



Basically, this novel follows two characters, Helena Smith and Barry Sutton.

Helena is a neuroscientist dedicated to creating a technology that will preserve our memories. Her mother is losing a battle with dementia and Helena is determined to help her before it's too late.



She gets recruited to work for a private company to pursue this research, but when her work proves successful, Helena's afraid of the repercussions it could have should the tech fall into the wrong hands.

And, oh baby, is she ever right!



Barry is a New York City cop, who, when he can no longer ignore its significance, begins to investigate a phenomenon known as False Memory Syndrome, or FMS.

FMS is so powerful, it is causing a significant number of people to take their own lives. It is a mystery as to what the cause of the syndrome is, but Barry is hoping he will be able to uncover its cause and put a stop to it.



When we begin following Barry and Helena, they are in different timelines, but eventually, those converge and a partnership develops.

Helena essentially helps Barry, by filling in a lot of missing pieces to his investigation.



This was such a wild ride. No one does temporal stories like Blake Crouch. The shifting timelines, the examination of time as a construct, dimension, however you want to describe it, it's amazing to read.

Recursion left me reeling. I am so glad I finally made the time for this one. It was hella fun!



I did get confused a bit as it starts racing to the conclusion, however, I'll be honest. There were a lot of jumps and perspectives to try to remember and recall.

I think partly, that may have been because, it got so intense, I was reading really quickly. I needed to know what the heck was going to happen.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, it just makes it hard to let every detail sink in and I think this is a very detail-oriented story.



If you liked Dark Matter, you should definitely check this one out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Write on, Crouch! I can't wait to see what he whips up next.
Profile Image for Pam Gonçalves.
Author 9 books10.4k followers
January 23, 2021
4.5

Sensacional! Um livro que me deixou sem fôlego durante a maior parte da leitura e, se não fosse por algumas coisas que fizeram falta e outras que se estenderam demais no final, eu teria dado 5 estrelas.

Um ótimo livro para começar a ler ficção científica e, sem dúvidas, vou ler todos os outros livros do Blake Crouch!
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,503 reviews24.5k followers
April 8, 2019
Blake Crouch's latest science fiction thriller is a complex mind messing of a thought provoking read. It is intense, time shifting and asks profound questions of identity, memory, and what it is that makes us human. Just be prepared to find yourself buffeted all over the place. I understand that the novel is going to be filmed, and I am not surprised by this, this is a twisted story that just fizzes with energy and vitality. NYPD police officer Barry Sutton tries but fails to prevent a woman leaping off a skyscraper. Despairing and distraught, she spoke of false memory syndrome (FMS) with their vibrant and visceral memories and how her son has been erased, but he had never existed. Is FMS a contagion? A deeply troubled Barry, with his own past traumas, sets out on a journey to investigate.

Helena Smith is a brilliant neuroscientist carry out cutting edge technology research on memories. A well intentioned woman, her mother is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which drives Helena's ambition and work on a memory chair, where she can record memories and re-implant them. Her project receives a huge boost when a rich philanthropist injects it with the necessary financial resources, but does he have a darker hidden agenda? Barry and Helena drive the narrative until their paths connect. What are the repercussions of having our memories manipulated and replaced? Is it a worthy desire to replace our painful memories? How does this impact our sense of who we are?

Crouch writes a hard hitting, insane, ground shaking thriller, well constructed, full of tension and suspense, that rockets around all over the place with it's ideas and concepts. It certainly holds the reader's attention with ease, although I admit to enjoying Dark Matter more, there are times when this feels slightly more clunky on occasions. Strap yourself in for one hell of a thrill ride, movingly touching on some crucial issues, with its overt agenda of making you think. Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,126 reviews34.9k followers
May 10, 2019
"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."
- George Orwell, 1984

This was a book I had to sit and think about before writing my review, mainly because I had to let it sink it. What would it be like to live your life over again? What would it be like to go back and change past events? How would this action affect your future? How would it affect the future of others? This book is deep and is thought provoking.

Blake Crouch has written a very ambitious and carefully crafted book about memory, preserving memory, shifting reality, and using our memories and dangers associated with altering these things. He does this with skill and finesse. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall while he was writing this.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith has dedicated her life to inventing a device which will preserve our memories. Her intentions are pure. She wants to help her Mother who has Alzheimer’s, she wants to help those experience their happy times once again. But what happens when people begin experiencing False Memory Syndrome - a syndrome that causes irrational behavior in those who experience memories of lives they never lived.

NYC police officer Barry Sutton begins to investigate the syndrome, he learns that there is more going on than meets the eye (or memory). As he digs deeper, he becomes more involved until he is knee deep in neuroscience, time, memories and a lifetime of trying to get things right.

I highly recommend making note of the date/YEAR on each chapter as this book is told in both timelines. Things jump around a bit and can be confusing if you are not on your toes keeping track of your time lines. This is a book I really needed to sit and ponder after reading. I found that the more I thought about this book, the more I enjoyed it.

Blake Crouch has a brilliant creative mind and he puts it to good use in this book. The beginning of this book was work for me until I found my rhythm with this book. Fans of his previous book Dark Matter will enjoy this one as well. I did enjoy Dark Matter more mainly because I found it was easier to follow but his one is good, but it took a little more (okay, a lot more) work on my part.

I also loved that not only is this science fiction it is also a love story and Crouch writes some beautiful passages such as “...I want to breathe the same air as you every minute of every day of my life, no matter how many timelines I live." and "My soul knows your soul in any time line."

Science Fiction fans, Crouch will not let you down with this book. Read those chapters headers and keep them in mind while reading each chapter as time does jump around.

Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
771 reviews12.1k followers
September 2, 2019
4.5 stars

“There is no past.”

Recursion is a provocative and mind-bending read about nonlinear time, the fluidity of memory, and the power of love.


In Recursion, a scientific invention allows for one to go back in time and save a life or prevent a tragic event from occurring. But changing the past has serious consequences in the present. False Memory Syndrome emerges resulting in suicides, bombings, and nuclear war. To stop the destruction of the chair, multiple timelines are created, leading to ultimate chaos.

“Perhaps memory is fundamental, the thing from which time emerges.”

This is a fast-paced, action-packed, fascinating read that had me constantly examining my beliefs about memory and time. The writing is sharp, intricately plotted and surprisingly clear.

The plot is dense but manageable. While there are multiple timelines and events to keep track of, the structure of the novel made it possible to not get lost. The narrative is divided up into 5 parts, all of which focus on the aftereffects of the memory experiment. Told through the eyes of Barry, an NYPD Detective, and Helena, a scientist, their constant presence put me at ease and offered the clarity I needed when I got lost in trying to understand the science behind the shifts in time.

This could have been an overwhelming convoluted mess, but Crouch has the ability to seamless tie all of the many threads together. There were parts when the science went way above my head--I will never fully grasp quantum physics, but I appreciated how this book had me continuously thinking. Recursion had my mind spinning and left me with my brain hurting. I don’t read a lot of Science Fiction and this book took me out of my comfort zone--it was well worth reading and I highly recommend!



Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
788 reviews1,744 followers
February 15, 2019
A dark, sci-fi thriller that had my mind bending in many directions!

From the author of  Dark Matter , which has been on my reading list for some time, but still haven't read it yet.

Would you like a do-over of your life?   Hmm, that seems like a loaded question and it is! This was quite an edge of your seat, genre crossover that had me needing answers and quick.

A brilliant neuroscientist Helena Smith, has developed technology that will redefine how we think about time and memory.  Playing with time and timelines  is where she is headed and some seedy people just might want a piece of this technology.  "Pandora's box has been flung open."

I really enjoyed this fast read, although it took some "work" on my part. A lot happens and moves quite quickly- think Evelyn Hardcastle meets time machine. Lets talk equations, science, timelines, and memory loopy de loops. If you have the patience, this is an entertaining, far-out puzzle to enjoy.

Interested? Step right in, buckle up, place the helmet on and lets mess with time!

Thanks to NG/Crown for my review copy.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan .
944 reviews1,890 followers
July 5, 2022

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. -George Orwell, 1984”

A pandemic-like situation in which no one knows the mode of spread. A cataclysmic event called False Memory Syndrome where victims get entire new memories of things they haven't experienced. A New York City, Detective Barry Sutton, is embarking on a mission to unravel the truth with Neuroscientist Helena Smith.

This was an extraordinary plot narrated in the best way that a reader can think about. Pandemics can shatter our present and future. In this novel, the protagonist has to face something even worse where his past is also attacked.
"Is déjà vu actually the specter of false timelines that never happened but did, casting their shadows upon reality?"

How the research of Helena to cure Alzheimer's disease by preserving memories that can revolutionize medical science turns into a nightmare is dealt with in a mind-bending type of narration. I am eagerly waiting for the release of the Netflix version of this book which is in the pipeline. If you are into Science Fiction, this is one of the best among the recently released ones. If you liked Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, you would love this one.
“Time is an illusion, a construct made out of human memory. There's no such thing as the past, the present, or the future. It's all happening now."
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,574 followers
December 28, 2020

Many thanks to Crown Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review


This book was sent to me by the publisher! If you would like to know how to get ARCs and review copies, feel free to watch my video, Advanced Reader Copies 101!

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[12/10/19] - Congratulations, Blake Crouch, on winning the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Science Fiction!

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re·cur·sion
/re-ker-zhun/
noun
the repeated application of a recursive procedure or definition.

Have you ever had one of those books that literally change the way you look at life? Well, if you haven't, you don't know what your missing. Recursion is one of those books that you don't completely understand but.. You do at the same time. You know what I'm saying? Anyway, I don't have a good translation so ON TO THE CHARACTER ANALYSIS:

Barry - Barry, a police officer (in one timeline, that is 😏) who's daughter has recently passed away. Throughout the book, he deals with grief and guilt as aftermath of his daughter's death. One day, he is given the chance to redo the day his daughter died and he takes it, ending up saving her daughter. He begins to feel uncomfortable, feeling as though he's muddled with something he shouldn't have. Little does he know how right he is...

Helena - Helena is the genius who invents The Chair, which is basically a time-traveling troublemaker. She too deals with guilt as her invention is used for purposes not intended. Her strength and endurance is shown as she does whatever it takes to rectify the problem she caused, no matter what it takes.

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres. Since I was young, I have always loved seeing authors take real, hard facts and adding a dash of magic to them. It's been a while since I read a hardy science fiction. This did not disappoint. I didn't realize how much I missed getting shaky from excitement because I could see all the pieces fitting together. Even worse, I am now ruined for all other science victim because this was so well written.

In Recursion, we follow the invention of The Chair which allows you to travel back to your memories and rewrite them. This is based on the idea that the present moment is an illusion. To put it simply, by the time our brains process stimuli, whatever sent that stimuli is already in the past. I did not realize that and when I did, I f**king lost it. I mean... People.. We are always getting old data and stimuli! Everything we see, hear, and feel is already in the past... AUUUGHHH. It's absolutely crazy!

Anyway, slowly people start to realize the existence of the Chair and what it can do. And then... The sh*t hits the fan. Time travel happens and people's minds get f**ked up because the timelines are blending together and humanity cannot handle the mental toll. Now, Barry and Helena join forces in hopes of destroying the Chair.

I think the best part of the book is that, because time gets royally screwed up, this book is told kind of our order making it confusing but simple at the same time. Blake Crouch uses the idea of time to his advantage and weaves a stunningly beautiful story. When (not if because you must read this book) you read this, you will find yourself not wanting it to end.

Finally, I cannot recommend this book enough. It's one of those books that no review could ever do it justice. You need to experience it yourself.

Bottom Line:
4.5 Stars
Age Rating [ R ]
TW: Suicide, Graphic Content
Reps: [None]
Cover: 5/5 ~ Characters: 4/5 ~ Plot: 5/5 ~ Audio:4/5
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Publisher: Crown Books
Genre: Thriller/Science Fiction


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July 14, 2021
YAY! The proud GR 2019 Choice winner! For once, I'm in agreement with the voting!

Q: “You won’t even recognize me.”
“My soul knows your soul. In any time.” (c)
Q:
“This is some kind of hell,” she says, dark. “Ready to come down to the lab and kill me again, darling?” (c)

Don't let any chairs destroy the world. Even cushy ones.

A bit disjointed but nevertheless engrossing read.

The end... Hmmm, so did they live happily ever after or did the whole rigmarole restart?


Q:
I don’t want to look back anymore. I’m ready to accept that my existence will sometimes contain pain. No more trying to escape, either through nostalgia or a memory chair. They’re both the same fucking thing.
Life with a cheat code isn’t life. Our existence isn’t something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain.
That’s what it is to be human—the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other. (c)
Q:
...I’ve lived more lifetimes than you can possibly fathom.”
“Doing what?” she asks.
“Most of them were quiet explorations of who I am, who I could be, in different places, with different people. Some were…louder. But this last timeline, I discovered that I could no longer generate a sufficient synaptic number to map my own memory. I’ve traveled too much. Filled my mind with too many lives. Too many experiences. It’s beginning to fracture. There are entire lifetimes I’ve never remembered, that I only experience in flashes. This hotel isn’t the first thing I did. It’s the last. I built it to let others experience the power of what is still, what will always be, your creation.” (c)
Q:
Out here on the platform, it’s like the world is screaming in her ear.
Lifting her face to the sky, she screams back. (c)
Q:
Dark thoughts are whispering to her again. (c)
Q:
Helena feels mist on her face, and then a wall of water blasts out of the smoke carrying cars and people.
It hits Helena like a wall of freezing bricks, sweeping her off her feet, and she’s tumbling in a vortex of frigid violence, slamming into walls, the ceiling, then crashing into a woman in a business suit, their eyes meeting for two surreal seconds before Helena is speared through the windshield of a FedEx truck. (c)
Q:
Everything stops.
This timeline dying. (c)
Q:
Are the rest of my many lives nothing more than trying to figure a way out of this inescapable loop? (c)
Q:
Moments of exhilaration from knowing they were the only two people in the world fighting to save it.
Moments of horror from the same realization, and the knowledge they were failing. (c)
Q:
On the window glass overlooking the woods, the fundamental questions he wrote in black magic marker many years ago still taunt him, unanswered—
What is the Schwarzschild radius of a memory?
A wild notion…when we die, does the immense gravity of our collapsing memories create a micro black hole?
A wilder notion…does the memory-reactivation procedure—at the moment of death—then open a wormhole that connects our consciousness to an earlier version of ourselves?
He’s going to lose all of this knowledge. (c)
Q:
If they could prove the appearance of the entrance to a micro wormhole at the moment someone died in the tank, and a wormhole exit at the moment their consciousness re-spawned in their body at an earlier point in time, they might begin to understand the true mechanics of memory return. (c)
Q:
Your perspective changes when you’ve lived countless lives. (c)
Q:
“I walked into this room five minutes ago and had no idea what those equations meant. Then I suddenly had memories from this timeline and understood partial differential equations.” ...
“Remember what Marcus Slade said when we had him at gunpoint in his lab in that hotel?”
“You do realize, from my perspective, that was almost a hundred years and three timelines ago.” (c)
Q:
Who knows how many lives Slade lived, and what he learned? (c)
Q:
If matter can neither be created nor destroyed, where will all this matter go when this timeline ceases to exist? What’s happened to the matter of all the dead timelines they’ve left behind? Are they time-capsuled away in higher, unreachable dimensions? And if so, what is matter without time? Matter that doesn’t persist? What would that even look like? (c)
Q:
He has one last realization before his consciousness is catapulted from this dying reality—this deceleration of time means that Helena might be alive somewhere, dying in the tank right this second in order to kill this timeline and begin another.
And a glimmer of joy rides through him at the possibility that she lives, and the hope that, in this next reality, even if only for a moment, he will be with her again. (c)
Q:
By midnight, he is the Barry of many lifetimes... (c)
Q:
I love you. I’ll see you at the bottom of the world. (c)
Q:
It’s just a product of our evolution the way we experience reality and time from moment to moment. How we differentiate between past, present, and future. But we’re intelligent enough to be aware of the illusion, even as we live by it, and so, in moments like this—when I can imagine you sitting exactly where I am, listening to me, loving me, missing me—it tortures us. Because I’m locked in my moment, and you’re locked in yours. (c)
Q:
People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.’ Einstein said that about his friend Michele Besso. Lovely, isn’t it? I think he was right. (c)
Q:
I would say it was worth it to accidentally build a world-destroying chair because it brought you into my life, but that’s probably bad form. (c)
Q:
The ache of the memory is gone, but he doesn’t begrudge its visitation. He’s lived long enough to know that the memory hurt because many years ago, in a dead timeline, he experienced a perfect moment. (c)
Q:
Space is one of the few places where time makes sense to him. He knows, on an intellectual level, that when he looks at any object, he’s looking back in time. In the case of his own hand, it takes the light a nanosecond—one billionth of a second—to transport the image to his eyes. When he looks at the research station from half a mile away, he’s seeing the structure as it existed 2,640 nanoseconds ago.
It seems instantaneous, and for all intents and purposes, it is.
But when Barry looks into the night sky, he’s seeing stars whose light took a year, or a hundred, or a million to reach him. The telescopes that peer into deep space are looking at ten-billion-year-old light from stars that coalesced just after the universe began.
He’s looking back, not just through space but through time. (c)
Q:
This is nothing like returning to a memory on a live timeline. That is a process of slowly embodying yourself as the sensations of the memory wash over you. You come into action and energy.
Here, there is none.
And it occurs to him—I am finally in a moment of now.
Whatever he is or has become, Barry registers a freedom of movement he has never known. He is no longer in three-dimensional space, and he wonders if this is what Slade meant by—And maybe you never will, unless you can travel the way I’ve traveled. Was this how Slade experienced the universe? (c)
Q:
What if he could restart a dead memory by the sheer force of his consciousness breathing life and fire into the gray? (c)
Q:
Just another instance of longing for the unreachable past? (c)
Q:
Every memory he has ever made.
Every memory that has made him. (c)
Q:
The timeline he’s on is the original, and he’s accelerating upstream against the river of his life, crashing through forgotten moments, understanding finally that memory is all he’s made of.
All anything is made of.
When the needle of his consciousness touches a memory, his life begins to play, and he finds himself in a frozen moment— (c)
Q:
What teachers and professors never told her was about the dark side of finding your purpose. The part where it consumes you. (c)
Q:
It is evident the mind does not know things immediately, but only by the intervention of the ideas it has of them. (c)
Q:
Goes to parties he’s already been to, watches games he’s already seen, solves cases he’s already solved.
It makes him wonder about the déjà vu that haunted his previous life—the perpetual sense that he was doing or seeing something he’d already seen before.
And he wonders—is déjà vu actually the specter of false timelines that never happened but did, casting their shadows upon reality? (c)
Q:
“I can’t go back and stop myself from being born. Someone else can, and then I become a dead memory. But there’s no grandfather paradox or any temporal paradox when it comes to the chair. Everything that happens, even if it’s changed or undone, lives on in dead memories. Cause and effect are still alive and well.” (c)
Q:
Clearly, some minds ... cannot handle the changing of their reality... (c)
Q:
If we can’t rely on memory, our species will unravel. And it’s already beginning. (c)
Q:
Their future seemed so full of promise, and she was killing it. (c)
Q:
It is late autumn in the city, Barry thinking this reality is feeling more solid by the minute. No shifts threatening to upend everything. (c)
Q:
For everyone but him, the past is a singular concept. (c)
Q:
What do you say to the bravest woman you’ve ever known, whom you lived a half dozen extraordinary lives with, whom you saved the world with, who saved you in every conceivable way, but who has no idea you even exist? (c)
Q:
she wonders if this is what feeling old really means—not just a physical deterioration, but an interpersonal. A growing silence caused by the people you most love, who have shaped you and defined your world, going on ahead into whatever comes after.
With no way out, no endgame in sight, and everyone she loves gone, she is unsure how much longer she will keep doing this. (c)
Q:
“You’re saying we become the bogeyman?”
“If someone chooses not to commit an atrocity because they fear a shadow group with the ability to manipulate memory and time, that’s a mission you’ll never have to face, and false memories you’ll never have to create. So yes. Become the bogeyman.” (c)
Q:
We are homesick most for the places we have never known.
—CARSON MCCULLERS (c)
Profile Image for Rebecca.
199 reviews143 followers
April 21, 2022
“Life with a cheat code isn't life. Our existence isn't something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain. That's what it is to be human - the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other.”

An epidemic called False Memory Syndrome (FMS) is spreading and causing people to go mad. It’s victims remember aspects of a life they never had, and it feels so real that the false life and their real life are completely indistinguishable. After failing to rescue a woman who jumped off a building due to FMS, Detective Barry Sutton starts digging around to uncover the truth behind the syndrome. His investigation leads him to neuroscientist Helena Smith who has invented a machine that is capable of preserving our memories.

Recursion is a scifi/mystery, race-to-save-the-world thriller with some romance thrown in for good measure. In a book full of dialogue, science, action, and twists, the author makes us reflect: Who are we without our memories? What is time but an illusion constructed by our memories? We are urged to understand how important memories are in defining who we are and who we will become, and that without them, our very concept of reality can be corrupted.

A mind-bending novel that is suspenseful, fast paced, and so well done. I can’t wait to see what Blake Crouch does next.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,844 followers
May 24, 2019
I have no problems in announcing that this book ought to be a multi-multi-billion-dollar bestseller.

Maybe I'm biased, too, but damn, this guy can write a great novel that tickles all my SF bones and reminds me how much I love well-crafted thrillers. Does this remind you of his Dark Matter? It should.

And if you loved the ideas behind The Butterfly Effect, Flatliners, and Groundhog Day, I'm certain you're going to fall head-over-heels for this novel.

Am I giving too much away? No. Probably not. The novel goes well beyond the initial premises of memory replacement and mystery and a bit of the oddball secret conspiracy bits and dives straight into the heart of some really messed-up emotional family stuff, the implications of which flatlined me.

And if anyone is worried that novels like these usually stop long before the full ramifications are revealed, rest assured. Crouch goes DEEP into the aftermath, aftermath, aftermath, aftermath. What we get afterward is not just a great mystery/thriller or an extremely solid SF novel, but one that is full of deeply emotional resonance and quality that will last long after the tale has finished.

I call this a home run. And I like it even more than Dark Matter. :) I'm reminded of the quality I read in another's book, The Gone World. High praise, I think. :)
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
685 reviews4,625 followers
July 14, 2019
Blake Crouch has done it again!!! Recursion was fascinating, confusing and brilliant!

Dark Matter is one of my favorite sci-fi books of all time so I was almost scared to delve into Recursion - nervous it wouldn't live up to my expectations for Crouch. This book was ambitious. Thankfully, I had nothing to fear. Mr. Crouch's brilliant mind hasn't failed us yet.

Recursion deals with memory - preserving memory, and using it to shift our reality. What a roller coaster ride this was. Can you imagine going back into a specific memory with all the knowledge you have now? What would you change or do differently if given the opportunity for a "do over"?

Barry Sutton is a NYPD Detective who answers a "jumper" call. As he attempts to talk her down from the ledge he learns she is suffering from False Memory Syndrome - vivid memories of an alternate life. These memories feel real and those suffering from FMS have difficulty reconciling the dual memories/lives.

Meanwhile, neuroscientist Helena Smith has devoted her life to memory research. She wants to map memories to preserve them. Her greatest hope is to help people with Alzheimers, Dementia and brain injuries. Ultimately she uncovers more than just a way to map memories. Her research leads to the discovery that causes FMS. Helena and her researchers travel back into past memories. This leads to changes which cause dual timeline memories for everyone involved.

Barry and Helena's stories intersect as they find themselves face to face with the darker implications of the research. Each change comes with a cost. As more and more people suffer from FMS, mass hysteria builds. Are our minds strong enough to handle dual realities? Can multiple timeline memories coexist in the same person? Can the world handle this type of technology?

Recursion certainly made me think and question everything I know about reality. I couldn't help but wonder about those moments of deja vu we all experience. What if there was more to them? Ultimately our memories make up who we are. They are definitely powerful and I love how Crouch explored this topic. It was thought provoking, emotional and made for fascinating reading.

A huge thank you to Blake Crouch, Crown Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity to read & review an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,850 reviews34.9k followers
July 19, 2019
Wow....I didn’t even think I was going to like this book....I’m not a die-hard science fiction fan..... but ‘occasionally’ I’ll take the plunge. I found “Recursion”, fascinating- and it kept me hooked.....
I didn’t expect any of this....this much enjoyment. It got me thinking of things I never do: parallel universes... physics...time....space...energy... Philosophy....the different universes within the multiverse.....and False Memory Syndrome.....(woke-up my imagination neurons)....and all that went wrong.

I thought it was:
#1 great storytelling with interesting characters whom I cared for.
#2 Hopeful into preserving memories for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
#3 the mystery thriller aspects.
#4 Great settings
#5 The pure fantasy of it all.
#6 Satisfying ending.
#7 This created a stimulating conversation between Paul and I about what we might change in the past if it were possible.

“Because memory… is everything. Physically speaking, a memory is nothing but a specific combination of neurons firing together — a symphony of neutral activity. But in actuality, it’s the filter between us and reality. You think you’re tasting this wine, hearing the words I’m saying, in the present, but there’s no such thing. The neutral impulses from your taste buds and your ears get transmitted to your brain, which processes them and dump them into working memory— so by the time you know you’re experiencing something, it’s already in the past. Already a memory”.
Profile Image for Barbie.
109 reviews302 followers
September 4, 2019


My thoughts in a nutshell
I chose Recursion to be my first read by Blake Crouch and I definitely didn't regret it. Dark Matter is on my TBR for ages so it will be my next read by him.
I don't read sci-fi nevertheless I was entertained by this one.
At first, the whole book was so confusing. I don't understand anything about it, lol. I read it. I kept going. Then finally, I realized the concept.
I have to tell you this is a brilliant and mind-blowing idea and I totally loved it.
I thought a lot about what happened in the book. I can't imagine what it would be like if it actually happened.
I adored that fact how much work and effort Blake could put into it.
I have only one issue about it. I felt some part extremely repetitive and overwritten. I know, it was necessary but you can't guess how bored I was. It was a real struggle. The ending was too ideal and it reminded me of a perfect Hollywood movie.
Overall, if you want to read a good sciency book, I would recommend it.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews917 followers
February 24, 2019
If Black Mirror served as a surrogate for Groundhog's Day and Back to the Future, Recursion would be that test tube baby.

This one starts out with a bang, or more like a plunk, as the story opens with a woman jumping from a building to her death, but not before she utters the words "My son has been erased." to Detective Barry Sutton.

What follows is two storylines, one where Barry searches for the meaning behind the woman's final words and one where researcher Helena Smith is developing a means to preserve the memories of Alzheimer's patients, such as her own mother.

"...what do you cling to, moment to moment, if memories can simply change. What, then, is real? And if the answer is nothing, where does that leave us?"

Sci-Fi has never been my thing, not even sorta kinda, until I came across Crouch's Dark Matter. He has a way of mixing the sci-fi and thriller genres in a way that makes it accessible to science impaired people like myself.

I found the first half of this book unputdownable...and then my unmethodical brain reared its head leaving me with a permanent perplexed expression.

All of the back and forth and forth and back and back and back and forth and back and forth and forth of the timeline was difficult to follow and often tedious at times. While I understand that it was part of the plot, I still think it could have been handled in a more reader-friendly manner.

Overall I enjoyed this book, not as much as Dark Matter, but certainly enough to continue my mediocre attempt to branch out into this new frontier, with Crouch in the lead.


I received an ARC from Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
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