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Recursion by Blake Crouch
Sci-fi

Recursion

BOTY FINALIST

Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to Recursion!

Repeat author

Blake Crouch is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include Dark Matter and Upgrade.

by Blake Crouch

Excellent choice

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Quick take

The tech bro villain we probably deserve.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Action

    Action-packed

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish

    Movieish

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy

    Buzzy

Synopsis

Memory makes reality.

That’s what NYC cop Barry Sutton is learning, as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

That’s what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face to face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds, but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Recursion.
Recursion

Barry

November 2, 2018

Barry Sutton pulls over into the fire lane at the main entrance of the Poe Building, an Art Deco tower glowing white in the illumination of its exterior sconces. He climbs out of his Crown Vic, rushes across the sidewalk, and pushes through the revolving door into the lobby.

The night watchman is standing by the bank of elevators, holding one open as Barry hurries toward him, his shoes echoing off the marble.

“What floor?” Barry asks as he steps into the elevator car.

“Forty-one. When you get up there, take a right and go all the way down the hall.”

“More cops will be here in a minute. Tell them I said to hang back until I give a signal.”

The elevator races upward, belying the age of the building around it, and Barry’s ears pop after a few seconds. When the doors finally part, he moves past a sign for a law firm. There’s a light on here and there, but the floor stands mostly dark. He runs along the carpet, passing silent offices, a conference room, a break room, a library. The hallway finally opens into a reception area that’s paired with the largest office.

In the dim light, the details are all in shades of gray. A sprawling mahogany desk buried under files and paperwork. A circular table covered in notepads and mugs of cold, bitter- smelling coffee. A wet bar stocked exclusively with bottles of Macallan Rare. A glowing aquarium that hums on the far side of the room and contains a small shark and several tropical fish.

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Why I love it

Did you know that everything is a memory? By the time your brain filters and processes everything you experience, as we learn early on in Recursion, the present is already gone. Even the words you’re reading now are in the past. This is the sort of mind-bending and disorienting concept upon which the best science fiction is built.

Recursion—the new book from the author of 2016 Book of the Year finalist, Dark Matter—begins with dual storylines that gradually converge. In one, we learn of the outbreak of a mysterious condition known as False Memory Syndrome, in which sufferers are haunted by past lives and loves that exist only in their memories. In the other, a brilliant young scientist is making groundbreaking strides in the field of memory, unaware that the mysterious benefactor who funds her research may be guiding her toward a discovery so massive that soon she—and the rest of humanity—are drawn into a dangerous, world-shaking intrigue that turns reality into a treacherous labyrinth.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how it thrusts you into a world of the impossible while bringing you to a deeper understanding of the world around you. Crouch is a novelist in the spirit of M.C. Escher. He is a meticulous, mad architect of suspense and adventure. While reading Recursion, I was awed by the massive scope of his vision, made all the more satisfying by the human warmth that causes this world to feel lived-in and worth saving. This book is dizzying fun.

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Member ratings (18,932)

  • Christine H.

    Indianapolis, IN

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.” A really fascinating exploration of time travel accessed via memories instead of physics. Brilliant, entertaining, and original.

  • Alexandra A.

    Nashville, TN

    Crouch had a way of making something that seems so wild but possible, one of the scariest fears a person could have. The way he makes science so personal is why people love his writing. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Bailey M.

    Cleveland, NC

    Starts off a little slow but once it picks up, you don’t want to put it down! I love Crouch’s other book Dark Matter as well. Such genius writing & it really makes you think. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Mellissa P.

    New York, NY

    This book was a pleasant surprise. I bought it meaning to gift it, but once I read a couple chapters I couldn’t let it go. An appropriate mind”bender” and love story that didn’t slap you with romance.

  • Alexandra S.

    Indianapolis, IN

    Crouch really expanded on the theme of “the grass is always greener” here, and I’m thoroughly impressed. Plus all the research he did to build the world in this book, which isn’t far off from our own.

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