Recursion is a truly amazing work of science fiction with a relentless narrative and increasingly high stakes that will constantly blow your mind.
While I had enjoyed the author’s previous books, none come close to Recursion. It is such a gripping and mind-blowing read that I devoured the entire book in less than 24 hours. I don’t remember the last time a book was this ‘unputdownable’. While time-travel can be a murky subject, Blake Crouch’s explanation of the underlying science and mechanics is so good that we are never left in doubt about the capabilities, limitations, and implications of time-travel.
The book is narrated from the POV of two main characters. At the start of the novel, they are living in completely different time periods and possibly even different timelines. Barry Sutton is an NYPD detective who starts investigating a new phenomenon called ‘False Memory Syndrome’ that leaves its victims with strange memories of other lives. You can visualize it as erasing a drawing on a sheet of paper and starting a new one on the same sheet. Similar to how we can still see traces of the old image, people have access to memories of an entire alternate lifetime, which is different from their current timeline.
Meanwhile a decade earlier, Helena is a scientist who is researching about mapping and recreating human memories to help her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. As Barry stumbles onto this mystifying force that has the capability to twist reality and rewrite history, the intricately forked timelines converge, break apart and re-converge with increasingly high stakes before escalating to Armageddon proportions. With so much cinematic spectacle in scope and twists that keep coming, it doesn’t come as a surprise that a live-action adaption of the book had been greenlit by Netflix even before the book’s release.
While I’m sure Shonda Rhimes and Matt Reeves will do justice to the source material, I still feel that no amount of visual spectacle can rival the amount of intrigue, emotion, and action that Blake Crouch packs in 336 pages, and cannot recommend the book highly enough.