Review: Recursion

The premise on the book jacket of Recursion is intriguing: people are being flooded with false memories.

Blake Crouch's story goes further than you could possibly imagine — and it will keep you turning pages long into the wee hours of the morning.

NYPD Detective Barry Sutton comes face-to-face with a person afflicted with False Memory Syndrome as she contemplates her own demise from the side of a high rise building in Manhattan. For her, the memories are real, vivid, and heartbreaking. But how can they be, when reality provides different facts? 

Sutton isn't convinced she is right — but he also is not convinced she is wrong. On a hunch, he pursues the case to Long Island, a decision that changes his life.

Time is running out for Helena Smith's neuroscience research: her mother is losing all of her memories due to advancing Alzheimer's. She wants to find a way to save her mother's memories and halt the devastation of the disease. One night, she is offered a chance to work on her project in a way she never thought possible.

Alas, in Blake Crouch's thriller, nothing is as it appears. With twists, turns, and amazing leaps, characters careen near disaster in ways that keeps readers riveted.

I literally did not put this book down once I started it. I buried my nose in it and walked slowly from room to room, propping it up for meals, moving it off my lap to make room for a cat from time to time. I stayed up way past my bedtime — and only when I was exhausted did I find a safe place to slip in my "quitter strip" until the next morning.

I liked the characters: a police officer with tragic loss and soaring opportunity, a desperate neuroscientist racing for a cure to a heartbreaking disease, a handful of good-intentioned scientists who try to do the right thing, a sad spouse with all-consuming grief. I even liked the villains: the person who removes all limitations so Helena can save the world, the good-intentioned bureaucrats who have no choice but to follow bad decisions or lose all access to the tool they should not have loosed in the first place.

The ending was perfect, and the acknowledgements were charming; Crouch seems like a good friend as well as a bang-up writer. I have one of his earlier novels on my shelves; once I get my breath back, I may step into those pages, if I dare.

Read this book if you like excitement, wonder, just enough science to make the fiction believable, and just enough fiction to make the science approachable.