Recursion Recursion question


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Recursion - Book Club Discussion Questions *SPOILERS*
Austin Haukinz Austin Jan 14, 2020 10:50AM
Here are a handful of book club discussion questions for Recursion. Feel free to post more. Enjoy!

Characters & Plot
The story is told through two characters, Berry and Helena. What are your thoughts on these two characters and how the story is told from their viewpoints?

Slade uses the chair seemingly for selfish motives yet he gives the key to create and ultimately stop the chair. What does this say about his character?

Ultimately there isn’t a way to keep the chair and not cause global destruction. What does this say about society? Is there a reality where the chair is possible without total destruction?

In the end Barry returns to the original timeline. “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.” What does this tell us about balance and control in life?


Time Travel
The book starts with the quote, “Time is but memory in the making”. What does this book tell us about how time and memory are intertwined?

The creation of a new timeline/reality gives connected people new memories and the development of False Memory Syndrome. This sometimes causes the recipient to commit suicide. How would you feel about immediately having an entirely new life while also remembering your old one?

The chair creates multiple timelines (and thus new past memories) for all those connected to someone that used the chair, yet these realities are only realized at the moment in which timelines intersect. How does this time travel mechanic impact the plot?

Everyone’s initial use of the chair is to eliminate a tragic event in the past yet this almost always creates an equally bad or worse reality. What would you change about your life if you could use the chair?


Love Story
Barry and Julia ultimately separate in Barry’s second timeline. What is the say about their love story and love in general?

Barry and Helena relive lifetimes together, seemingly to fall in love more each time. What does this say about their relationship and love over a lifetime?

The book ends with Berry and Helena meeting in a bar. What are your thoughts on this ending? Do you think they fall in love again?


Final Thoughts
If you had to sum up this book in one sentence, what would it be?

If this book were to be made into a movie, who should star in it? Who should direct it?

What aspects of this book did you really like? Which aspects didn’t you like?

What is your final rating of this book on a 1-5 scale?



Catarina (last edited Jan 21, 2020 04:54AM ) Jan 21, 2020 04:51AM   0 votes
I enjoyed this book, but to be honest, I didn't like it as much as I did 'Dark Matter'.

-> "What are your thoughts on these two characters and how the story is told from their viewpoints?"
Yes, I liked the way the story is told from their viewpoints! And how their very different lives end up merging together.

-> I loved when he said "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."! Because at the beginning of the book he was always going back to the memories of his child and altering them a bit to make him feel better. But at this point, he finally owns up to his life and pain, and gives up on altering the life he had.

-> "How would you feel about immediately having an entirely new life while also remembering your old one?"
I honestly think I would be devastated, remembering I had another life and knowing I'll never get that back. I totally empathize with Ann and her actions. Also, I liked how the author never talked about Ann and her (ex-)husband again. He gave us some clues in the beginning and then expected us to understand what truly happened to them.

-> "What would you change about your life if you could use the chair?"
Ahahah good question! Although I think everyone that read this book should answer "nothing". The moral of the story is exactly this one! Life has pain and we should never want to alter it. Right?

-> "What are your thoughts on this ending? Do you think they fall in love again?"
Yesss, they have to! I honestly enjoyed that ending and cried a bit... lol

-> "What aspects of this book did you really like? Which aspects didn’t you like?"
The premise is good and I like the romance and the recursion at the end, but in my opinion, there are a lot of plot holes in it, such as:

- Why does Helen always goes back to her 16 year-old self and not just some years ago, when she is already married to Barry? She could just cut herself some days after the marriage (or even just remember the day of the marriage!!) and go back to that time where Barry already knows everything about the chair and is helping her figuring things out.

- On the second anniversary of the date April 16, Helen and Barry are in Denver, and they hike with snowshoes, rush home and everything is insane. Why did they decide to go on a hike if they knew exactly what would happen on this day?! They knew they had failed again! They should have spent that day at home, next to the lab.

- The timeline where Helen decides to not meet Barry, he ends up alone and fat. Why? I just think that's very unlikely (in previous timelines he met Julia, so where is she now?). And he doesn't even get mad at her for the possibility of him marrying someone else (Julia or not) and having other kids that he is not willing to compromise just because of her chair issues... ?!? And how could she not think about it?

Did I miss something or are these really plot holes? Did anyone find more?

Thank you for this questions! Made me rethink the book.


I loved this book. I thought it was one of the best books I read in 2019. If I were casting the movie I could see Keifer Sutherland as Barry & Jessica Chastain as Helen. Read it when it first came out so the details aren't fresh, but I do remember how amazing the scene in the Lincoln? Tunnel was when a bomb went off in it.


I read this, then went and found Dark Matter. They are both great books, but felt very similar. I think the one you like more, will be the one you read first.


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