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Book Club Discussion Questions: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

For those of you that haven't or couldn't attend book club lately, we're publishing this months' discussion questions here. All previous book club selections have been posted, complete with summary, discussion questions and, when necessary or appropriate, additional resources to better understand the topic or context. Here are the questions from our current title, Dark Matter. We hope these questions spark discussions of your own.

 

Dark Matter

by Blake Crouch


Summary:

A mindbending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy. “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. Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of. -- Publisher Description

 

Discussion Questions

Official Questions

  1. For you, what was the biggest surprise as you followed Jason through the many twists laid out in Dark Matter?

  2. What makes Jason 1 a standout amongst the others? Is our allegiance to him a matter of perspective? Or is there something fundamental to him that is more deserving of Daniela and Charlie than the others?

  3. When the novel switches to Daniela’s point of view for the first time, were you surprised by the scene that takes place? Confused? What did you think was happening?

  4. At its heart, Dark Matter is a love story. Yet we see Daniela in many different worlds and in situations where she is not with Jason and happy. Do you think they are supposed to be together? Do you believe that they would have been just as happy pursuing their career-driven dreams?

  5. Many of the decisions in Dark Matter center around the notion of career and family. If you had to choose, would you rather live Jason 1 or Jason 2’s life? Why?

  6. Jason 2 (and some of the other Jasons we meet later in the book) acts in morally questionable ways throughout the novel. Do you think that his life path has caused him to be less kind-hearted? Or is he merely self-interested and willing to do whatever it takes?

  7. Without Amanda, Jason 1 might not have survived. What do you think of her decision to leave him? How did you feel about their relationship?

  8. What kind of world do you imagine Jason, Daniela, and Charlie entered at the end of the book?

  9. What did you think of the science and technology in the book? If this kind of advancement in science was possible, would you want it to exist?

  10. Dark Matter has a somewhat unusual combination of qualities—it’s part thriller, part science-fiction novel, part love story. Can you think of other books or movies that combine these genres in similar ways?

  11. What writing tricks and techniques does the author use to keep readers turning pages and make the book read quickly? Did you find them effective?

  12. What was your favorite element of the novel? Your least favorite?

  13. Is there a path not taken that you wish you could experience? If so, what is it? Do you feel you ultimately made the right decision?

LitLovers Questions

  1. In what way is Jason like the Box, the mysterious cube-ish chamber?

  2. What does "superposition" mean? Can you explain it?

  3. Talk about the various universes Jason inhabits. Which do you find most disturbing or frightening? Consider this question, which has been posed by ethical philosophers regarding multiple universes: if a murder takes place in one universe, would we find it as horrifying if there were other universes in which the murder doesn't take place? What about the Holocaust in World War II or, say, slavery before the U.S. Civil War?

  4. This book explores the nature of identity. Who is the real Jason? Is there a real Jason—could a case be made that he is not the Jason with a wife and son who narrates the story? Out of all the versions of Jason, what makes him...him?

  5. What would your alternate universes look like? What dreams, in your own life, did you choose not to pursue which, if events in Dark Matter happened to you, would return as alternate universes? Ever wish that were possible? How different a person might you be had you chosen one of those different paths?

  6. During his search for "home" what does Jason come to learn about himself, flaws and all? What does he come to value?

  7. Have you read or watched other works of speculative fiction about the nature of identity? Consider Ursula K. Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, or Peter F. Hamilton. What about the movie Sliding Doors or The Man in the High Castle, either the 2015 film series or the book by Philip K. Dick? How does Blake Crouch's Dark Matter compare with any of them—how does it stack up?

  8. What about the science? For those with little scientific knowledge: were the book's scientific passages a detraction, something you had to plow your way through, or maybe just skim over? For those strong in the sciences: was the writing too boiled down, merely "popscience"? Or was it a fairly legitimate description of today's scientific theories?

  9. What is the theoretical underpinning of multiple universes? Do you believe they exist?

My Questions

  1. It very slowly dawns on Jason that the voice behind the mask sounds familiar but can't quite place it. Assuming you are not a twin, would you have recognized the voice when you heard it? Do you think it would have made a difference if it hadn’t been a scary situation?

  2. One of the things speculative fiction allows us to do is to examine aspects of our existence that otherwise would be difficult to articulate. What do you think Crouch was trying to say? Do you think he did a good job? Is there something else he could have said with this book? Or something he shouldn't have attempted?

  3. The Multiverse is a popular topic at the moment, though elements of it have been the topic of contemplation for centuries (although the first "official" alternate reality story dates to 1884's "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions," ancient cultures, and in a roundabout way religions, have dealt in the idea of alternate realities since early days). How much did you know about the philosophy and/or physics of this topic going into the book? Did you expect it to look as it did? - Note: This particular branch of multiverse story structure originates in "Sidewise in Time" by Murray Leinster, 1903.

  4. How does the pace and perspective of the story affect your understanding of the philosophy and physics being relayed? Is it important?

  5. In his search, Jason finds many different versions of what life could be, how it might turn out. Did you believe them? Which version spoke to you the most?

  6. If you were to be beset by countless other versions of yourself how do you think that would turn out? How would you overcome them? Would/should you try? At what point does your returning to your reality become a fruitless/fruitful endeavor? In other words, can you ever truly return home?

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