SYNOPSIS: “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.
For me, this one was a classic case of over-hype. All the reviews I read prior were filled with words in all caps like INTENSE, INSANE, CRAZY, WHAT A RIDE!, and THIS BOOK F***ED ME UP. Therefore, that’s what I anticipated. That what-did-I-just-experience brain fog you get from a book that knocks your brain sideways.
The truth is this is a good book. It’s well written, I like the protagonist, the premise is original, the pace is good, the twists are clever. It really is a great story. I read it in three days, so I was definitely enjoying myself. But I was never blown away, lost inside a Book Hangover. I was able to follow the theoretical quantum physics well enough, admittedly with a couple quick Google searches. Of the two twists in the book, I had the first one sussed immediately. And while I suppose there are some existential questions to the point of the novel, the concepts didn’t shake me philosophically, either. I believe, had I gone in without those preconceived notions of having my mind blown, I would’ve come out of it far more satisfied.
That said, this is a good novel. I recommend checking it out, but go in expecting nothing more than a good ole entertaining, linear yarn. A thriller/sci-fi/love story from the POV of a protagonist stuck in quite a pickle, trying to science his way out of it because he loves his wife and son.
Especially recommended for anyone who enjoyed The Matrix or The Time Traveler’s Wife.