Recursion by Blake Crouch

book cover of Recursion

What a fantastic book. In the beginning we're introduced to Barry Sutton, an NYC cop following up on a suicide connected to False Memory Syndrome (FMS) – an apparent disease whose sufferers remember entire chunks of time transpiring differently from how they actually did. Shortly afterwards, we meet Helena Smith, a neuroscientist working on a project to develop a “memory chair”, which can reinvigorate and strengthen memories, motivated by trying to stop her mother continuing down an Alzeimer's related spiral. It doesn't take too long for these storylines to cross and the result is gripping.

OK, so the science isn't exactly plausible, but as someone who grew up on Doctor Who that doesn't bother me. More important is the strong emotional foundation of the storyline: Barry's and Helena's love for their families, their desperation and grief… the villain isn't quite as strong, one of those capitalists motivated by “well the technology is probably good, and besides that it's going to make me lots of money!” but Barry's and Helena's efforts to thwart him had me clicking through pages in a frenzy. For how much I was moved by their personal stories and how unputdownable I found this book, it deserves nothing less than five stars.

If you're looking for another book you might enjoy if you liked this one, I would direct you to Here and Now and Then, which also features time travel and strong familial bonds. I was quite reminded of it at times reading this… and since that was another five-star read for me, that's no bad thing!


a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a socialist and a feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.