Book Review: Recursion

RECURSION | Blake Crouch
06.11.2019 | Crown Publishing
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


A devastating new phenomenon has started popping up all over the world. Labelled by the media as False Memory Syndrome, it is a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. The memories feel too real to not be true and the problem is becoming more and more prevalent. Barry Sutton, a New York City cop, has been sent to the scene of one of the latest victims who is threatening to commit suicide. Barry needs to know more about this syndrome and launches an investigation to discover the truth.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith has formed her entire career around her obsession with memory and reality. She has dreams of creating a technology that will let us preserve our most important memories. Her goal is to help those stricken with memory disorders, like her mother, and give them the ability to remember things that are fading from their minds. Helena and Barry may work in two different fields, but their worlds are about to collide.

There are so few things in our existence we can count on to give us the sense of permanence, of the ground beneath our feet. People fail us. Our bodies fail us. We fail ourselves. He’s experienced all of that. But what do you cling to, moment to moment, if memories can simply change. What, then, is real? And if the answer is nothing, where does that leave us?

Blake Crouch has struck again with another electrifying science fiction thriller! RECURSION is a mind bending story revolving around the concept of memory, how it impacts our reality, and what would happen if humans tried to intervene and control memory. From the very first page I was hooked with wanting to know more about Barry, Helena, and the mysterious False Memory Syndrome. 

Could you imagine suddenly feeling an overwhelming sense that moments ago you were living a completely different life? You were married to someone else or had a child and now you don’t. This is exactly the basis for Crouch’s story and one that makes the reader simultaneously wonder what if, while being sucked into the lives of the main characters. Crouch has this amazing ability to walk right into a reader’s mind with an insanely complex theory or idea and yet break it down to a level that is 100% understandable to the average person. I am by no means a scientist or know much about the science behind memory and yet I was able to fully grasp the concepts Crouch threw at me throughout this book.

Because memory…is everything. Physically speaking, a memory is nothing but a specific combination of neurons firing together—a symphony of neural activity. But in actuality, it’s the filter between us and reality.

One of the things that I have come to love best about Crouch’s writing is that despite high-concept ideas being the main story focus, he doesn’t ever take away the humanity behind his characters. Barry and Helena are fantastic multi-dimensional main characters with backstories and present situations that make them easily relatable. I think one of the ways Crouch solidifies this relatability is by almost turning the question on the reader and making them ponder what they would do in Helena or Barry’s situation. 

While DARK MATTER is still the reigning Blake Crouch novel in my life, I will definitely be forcing RECURSION onto everyone! I think this book is perfect for science fiction diehards, as well as those who have never tried the genre. If you haven’t already read this one, I urge you to prioritize it!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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