Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)

Book Review | Memories Become Unreliable in ‘Recursion’

November 12, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews 5 Comments

Book Review | Memories Become Unreliable in ‘Recursion’Recursion by Blake Crouch
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on June 11, 2019
Pages: 336
Genres: Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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four-half-stars

Memory makes reality.

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

re·cur·sion /rəˈkərZHən/: the determination of a succession of elements (such as numbers or functions) by operation on one or more preceding elements according to a rule or formula involving a finite number of steps

The year is 2018 and we’re introduced to an NYPD officer named Barry who is responding to a call of a potential suicide. The woman’s name is Ann Voss Peters and she says she has False Memory Syndrome. About a month ago, Ann was suddenly filled with memories from a different life where she had a husband and a son where they lived in Vermont. She remembers everything from their life in excruciating detail and it’s a life with everything she could possibly want but nothing she’ll ever have and it leaves her broken. Her death leaves Barry to contemplate the mystery behind Ann and the prevalence of False Memory Syndrome and he manages to uncover enough truth to believe it’s possible that the strange memories that flooded her brain at random are actually real.

The year is 2007 and we meet a scientist named Helena who is studying how a brain processes memories. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and she hopes to create something to help her from the disease that’s destroying her mind. When one of the richest men in the world, Marcus Slade, makes an offer to fund her continued research she realizes she’ll never get a better opportunity. She spends years perfecting her research, but her own intent for the research becomes slowly overruled by Slade and by the dark direction he wishes to take things. Helena realizes far too late that the good thing that she tried to create has become a terrifying weapon with potentially horrifying ramifications.

“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. You think you’re tasting this wine, hearing the words I’m saying, in the present, but there’s no such thing. The neural impulses from your taste buds and your ears get transmitted to your brain, which processes them and dumps them into working memory—so by the time you know you’re experiencing something, it’s already in the past. Already a memory.”

There’s something about time travel that sings to my soul. The concept of being able to go back (or forward) to a time you had only ever read about in history books (or knew that you’d never live to see) is fascinating. Of course, each iteration of time travel has its own set of rules, some don’t make sense and some do. Crouch’s approach to time travel is truly mind-boggling and I can only imagine that him trying to brainstorm this plot to make everything work looked something very close to this:

Image result for guy crazy whiteboard meme

Or maybe that’s just me, trying to figure out if his rules actually work. After a while, I stopped trying to contemplate the logistics and took a step back just to enjoy this truly imaginative and well-written story. Crouch very easily could have bitten off far more than he could chew but he somehow transformed this chaotic plot with multiple points of view and multiple timelines into something shockingly streamlined. But Recursion is more than just your standard time travel story. Rather than a story about time travel and how to scientifically make this happen, he takes it a step further and forces us to think responsibly, to think along the lines of the butterfly effect. Would you go back in time, knowing all that you know now, to change something that you’ve always wished you could change? Would you still do that if you knew your changes could have catastrophic consequences?

What makes this even better is his inspiration for this story, an article from The Smithsonian about scientists that figured out how to implant fake memories into a mouse. Incorporating the time travel aspect into that, essentially traveling back through memories instead of time, was pretty freaking brilliant. If you’re looking for more time travel goodness, make sure to watch Dark on Netflix. If Recursion’s time travel rules don’t blow your mind, Dark will help finish it off. I can’t wait to see what zany goodness Crouch comes up with next.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Recursion by Blake Crouch

December 5, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Recursion by Blake CrouchRecursion by Blake Crouch
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on June 11, 2019
Pages: 336
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: Recursion


What if someone could rewrite your entire life?

"My son has been erased." Those are the last words the woman tells Barry Sutton, before she leaps from the Manhattan rooftop.

Deeply unnerved, Barry begins to investigate her death, only to learn that this wasn't an isolated case. All across the country, people are waking up to lives different from the ones they fell asleep to. Are they suffering from False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious new disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived? Or is something far more sinister behind the fracturing of reality all around him?

Miles away, neuroscientist Helena Smith is developing a technology that allows us to preserve our most intense memories and relive them. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to reexperience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.

Barry's search for the truth leads him on an impossible, astonishing journey as he discovers that Helena's work has yielded a terrifying gift--the ability not just to preserve memories but to remake them . . . at the risk of destroying what it means to be human.

At once a relentless thriller and an intricate science fiction puzzle box, Recursion is a deeply felt exploration of the flashbulb moments that define us--and who we are without them.

About Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of the novel, Dark Matter, for which he is writing the screenplay for Sony Pictures. His international-bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy was adapted into a television series for FOX, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, that was Summer 2015's #1 show. With Chad Hodge, Crouch also created Good Behavior, the TNT television show starring Michelle Dockery based on his Letty Dobesh novellas. He has written more than a dozen novels that have been translated into over thirty languages and his short fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Crouch lives in Colorado.

I really loved Dark Matter and am looking forward to this fascinating sounding tale.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Rapid Reviews – Foundryside, Diamond Fire, Night and Silence, Magic Triumphs

September 21, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2018 3 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – Foundryside, Diamond Fire, Night and Silence, Magic TriumphsFoundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: Founders #1
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on August 21, 2018
Pages: 505
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: American Elsewhere

Short Summary: In the city of Tevanne, a thief gets embroiled in more than she bargained for when she steals an item of imaginable power and the individuals she stole it from will stop at nothing to get it back.

Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed American Elsewhere and absolutely planned on reading Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy, but Foundryside fell in my lap first and, oh man, Bennett is such a spectacular storyteller. Everything from the world building to the characters to the magic was vividly imagined, felt fresh and new, and was incredibly thrilling to read.

Verdict: I never would have thought I’d say that a talking key was my favorite character in a book but a talking key was absolutely my favorite character in this book. I LOVED this and I’m so anxious for the continued stories in this fascinating world.

five-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Rapid Reviews – Foundryside, Diamond Fire, Night and Silence, Magic TriumphsDiamond Fire by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3.5
Published by Avon Impulse on November 6, 2018
Pages: 160
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Magic BitesMagic RisesBurn for Me

Short Summary: *This is #3.5 — Spoilers for the first 3 installments!* Nevada’s sister, Catalina, is the new star in this novella and the upcoming trilogy of the continued Hidden Legacy series. The plans for Nevada and Rogan’s wedding are well underway but when the family tiara is discovered to be missing, Nevada’s future mother-in-law requests that Catalina conduct the investigation behind it because it’s clear there’s at least one family member that doesn’t want this wedding to happen.

Thoughts: I was worried that this spinoff wouldn’t work after the latest spinoff fiasco I read and I was worried that I wouldn’t love Catalina as much as I loved Nevada but my worries were completely unfounded. Catalina is going to be an exceptionally strong lead and I can’t wait for the story to further explore her powers.

Verdict: This was a fantastically fun snippet of future Catalina stories and fans of the author duo are definitely going to be pleased.

four-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Foundryside, Diamond Fire, Night and Silence, Magic TriumphsNight and Silence by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #12
Published by DAW on September 4, 2018
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: IndexingRosemary and RueA Local Habitation

Short Summary: Toby is once again faced with the kidnapping of her mortal daughter, Gillian, terrified that she’s once again responsible for her daughter being in danger. During her investigation, she manages to uncover a few jaw-dropping mysteries that will no doubt play a role in Toby’s future.

Thoughts: I swear, just when I feel like I couldn’t love this series more, McGuire manages to sneak in a new facet to the story that opens up whole new avenues and makes the anticipation for the next installment even worse. I have no idea how far she plans to take this series but even with twelve installments under her belt, this series doesn’t seem to be heading towards an end anytime soon, and I’m certainly not complaining.

Verdict: I read the first two installments in 2017 and the remaining nine this year so I could finally be caught up in time for the new release of Night and Silence. I now have to wait for the next release of this ridiculously good series like a PEASANT. BAH.

four-half-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Foundryside, Diamond Fire, Night and Silence, Magic TriumphsMagic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #10
Published by Ace on August 28, 2018
Pages: 327
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Magic BitesMagic RisesBurn for Me

Short Summary: In the final installment of the husband and wife co-authored Kate Daniels series, Kate is battling an ancient enemy that almost succeeded in destroying her family once before and this time seeks to raze Atlanta and everyone in it.

Thoughts: This series began back in 2007 and while I was late to the party (finally started in 2011), Kate Daniels will always be one of the integral series that turned me into such a diehard Urban Fantasy fan. As a final installment, Magic Triumphs still manages to throw in some unexpected surprises, new monsters, and an open enough ending to pave way for future stories (or spinoffs more likely).

Verdict: While the story started off with the standard formula with Kate researching a crime, it was far from what I was expecting from a final installment (I assumed it would be full of verbal sparring between her and Roland — I would have been a-okay with that). The first 2/3 felt like the story was dragging its feet (yet still managed to read very clipped and rushed somehow?), the final 1/3 was full of the action I would have appreciated reading about for the entire book, yet the end was ultimately satisfying and fans of the series will no doubt be pleased with the ending the duo writers bestowed upon her.

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett

June 20, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson BennettFoundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: Founders #1
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on August 21, 2018
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: American Elsewhere, Foundryside

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself--the first in a dazzling new fantasy series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne's docks, is nothing her unique abilities can't handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia's been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic--the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience--have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact's secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there's nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving--and at stopping the deadly transformation that's under way--Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact's power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards. His seventh novel, City of Miracles, is in stores now.

Robert lives in Austin with his wife and large sons. He can be found on Twitter at @robertjbennett.

I have yet to read Bennett’s Divine Cities series but I absolutely loved American Elsewhere so I have high hopes for this one. Sounds fantastic!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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