Author: Blake Crouch
Info: Crown, copyright 2016, 342 pages
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
I'm going to butcher my quick rundown, but here goes nothing... Jason is happily married with a wonderful son. One night after heading to his local Chicago bar for a drink, he gets kidnapped by a masked man and taken to an old warehouse. When he wakes up, he's in Chicago, but not his Chicago. It's a Chicago where he never met his wife but instead went on to discover some trippy science thing that lets you travel through time and parallel worlds. Now Jason is in a fight for his life as he attempts to get back to his family and the world he knows.
Hey! That wasn't too bad! I really liked this one. It came recommended (sort of) by a co-worker (well...her husband), and since it was scifi I thought I'd give it a whirl. The audiobook reader was fantastic and the action started within the first few pages. This is really more thriller than scifi in case that makes a difference :) There were moments when I feared that I would get overwhelmed with science. I had the same feeling reading The Martian, but as in The Martian, I came to realize that I didn't really need to understand specifics as long as I could grasp big concepts - the big concept being that Jason had found a way through a trippy science box thing to travel through time and parallel worlds. He developed a TARDIS, or DeLorean, in box form.
The book traveled deeper than that though. Crouch explores concepts of destiny, fate, and regret. If he had it to do over again, would Jason choose the life with his family over the life where he discovered a scientific breakthrough, a breakthrough that could change the course of history? How does one define fulfillment and happiness?
It reminded me a lot of the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow about life being decided in a single moment and shows what happens if she gets on a subway train versus missing the very same train. One moment changed the course of her life. I'm not sure I subscribe to a theory like that but it is a fascinating concept that Crouch explores with several extremely tense scenes, It's a Wonderful Life emotional moments, and a whole lot of heart.
A highly recommended read.