Dark Matter - by Blake Crouch

My Rating: 4 Stars

Blake Crouch the author of the Wayward Pine series, that was made into a TV show, is back with another terrific book.

It is difficult to review this book without giving away the plot. So here goes!

Jason Dessen is a college professor that is abducted at gunpoint and knocked out and left in some abandoned building in Chicago. When he wakes up, he is surrounded by strangers. The problem is that he is not a stranger to them. Jason just wants to get back to his wife and son but reality is playing tricks on him. Basically, this is a sci-fi thriller about choices, the path taken and the path we could have taken. Dark Matter is a fast read and it was difficult to put down once I started reading. Dark Matter is a fun sci-fi story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is definitely mind-blowing and will leave you thinking of the possibilities. I can't really say more than that without giving it all away. Just read it!

If you have read any of Bake Crouch's books before, then I think you will really enjoy Dark Matter. If you haven't read any of his books then you're really missing out.
Copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the books blurb:

From the author of the bestselling WAYWARD PINES trilogy, a brilliantly mind-bending science-fiction thriller in which an ordinary man is kidnapped, knocked unconscious—and awakens in a world inexplicably different from the reality he thought he knew.

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And someone is hunting him.

Is the life Jason remembers just some crazed dream? And can he survive long enough to discover the answers he needs?

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.


The Last One - by Alexandra Oliva

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Apocalypse and post apocalypse books are very popular right now and The Last One is another installment in an overflowing genre. The Last One is a little different though. The story focuses on Zoo, a reality game show contestant, on a survivor type reality show. While Zoo is left alone in the woods as part of a solo challenge something happens to the outside world. The TV show is a cheesy, big budget show with no end objective except the last person still playing, wins. The contestants are subjected to staged scenarios and at some point it becomes difficult for Zoo to discern what is real and what is not.

The story switches back and forth from a third person narration of the game and the contestants to Zoo's point of view as she is trying to complete the challenge. It becomes clear to the reader that something has happened but even the reader has doubts about what is real and what is staged.

I enjoyed this book and the premise of a survival game show during some kind of apocalypse event. As the book neared the end, the suspense level went up. Which is a big plus for me. The writing from Zoo's point of view flowed really well and it was easy to get into a rhythm while reading. The third person narrative didn't flow as well and was a little choppy for me (hence the half a star deduction from me). But it did get the idea across of how this "reality" show was more staged than real and why Zoo behaved the way she did. I would have preferred the entire book written from Zoo's perspective especially when the contestants come across things in the game that are staged for their benefit.  I think this would have increased the suspense and anxiety level. The idea is refreshing and different than most of the post-apocalypse books out. 

From the books blurb:

Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.
She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.

Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.

But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.

Sophisticated and provocative,
The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.

About the author:

Alexandra Oliva was born and raised in upstate New York. She has a BA in history from Yale University and an MFA in creative writing from The New School. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. The Last One is her first novel.

I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.