MMNster Book Review: Recursion


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Before lockdown, a friend at work had let me borrow a book of hers after we got talking about the fact that we’re both avid readers. She has a booktube and posts a lot more reviews than I do, you should check Dani out.

She told me she had recently read an amazing sci-fi book and I told her I’d be interested in reading it after she gave me a very vague outline of the plot. She brought it into the office for me, then lockdown happened. And in my office is where the book stayed for almost 4 months until I was finally able to go back to the office to collect any personal items. During those 4 months though, I’d read The Pines trilogy by Crouch and totally forgot that I had Recursion waiting for me. I loved this trilogy and was so excited to get stuck into another one of his works.

It’s difficult to review Recursion without giving away a chunk of the plot – partly because it’s so complex and mind-bending so I just want to talk about it all the time, but also because the plot is not exactly linear in any traditional sense so I have to be very careful about what I do share when I’m trying to review it. I’ll give it a go. 

What always strikes me about Crouch’s writing is not only the ease with which he is able to convey complex, scientific theorem with extremely accessible language but the incredibly firm grasp he also appears to have on the act of describing the complexities of human emotion. I can’t think of another author who has been able to pique my scientific brain and also my fascination with human psychology. Recursion is no exception. 

Beginning with a peep into the life of Barry Sutton, a new York cop who begins to investigate the suicide of a woman who jumps to her death from high up on a multi-storey building. Barry is plagued by this event as he was unable to talk this woman off the ledge and he witnessed her fall to her death. Before she jumped, the woman told Barry that she had caught False Memory Syndrome which was causing her to believe that she somehow had lived a previous version of her life, featuring people who in this life, do not know her. Barry had heard of this new disease which causes people to have false memories of a life they never lived and something this woman had said made this all seem more real to him than before. He decided to investigate some of the elements of this woman’s false memories and what he finds leads him on a reluctant exploration of what it means to be human, what it means to connect with others and what the memories of those connections can create inside of us.

Meanwhile, neuroscientist Helena Smith becomes obsessed with memory for a different reason, her mother is losing hers rapidly due to dementia and Helena works fiercely in the hopes to develop some kind of memory preservation technology which may enable her mother to preserve some semblance of herself through a technologically assisted memory recall system. 

The two worlds of these equally driven individuals collide in many ways and on multiple levels and have/are in many dimensions.

If you have any interest in time/space travel, quantum physics or interdimensional travel – this book is for you. If you have any interest in how the human mind can handle incredibly complex and reality-shifting information, events and experiences, then this book is for you. I inhaled these words in around 8 hours and I was left desperate for more. To learn more about this world, these people and their connections.

Thankfully, I can go back and read Crouch’s Dark Matter which came out before Recursion, but I’ve never been one for following convention so I’m reading this out of chronology.


What do you think?

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