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InstaReview: The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

"Life with a cheat code isn't life. Our existence isn't something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain. That's what it is to be human - the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other. "

As we excitedly await @blakecrouch1’s newest novel, Upgrade, later this month, we couldn’t resist the chance to review his 2019 novel, Recursion. The premise of Recursion hinges on the concept that the present moment is a neural memory constructed within the bounds of our limited perception, and Crouch takes this concept to the next dimension.

Helena is a neuroscientist researching memory preservation with a single-minded devotion (read: obsession) to her work, in large part as it affects her mother suffering from Alzheimer’s. Barry is a cop grappling with his own deep despair as he investigates FMS (False Memory Syndrome), a disorder that causes people to have memories of a life that doesn’t exist. Their paths cross when Helena invents a technology allowing users to alter their memories, with major ramifications for the people around them.

This novel is intensely enthralling, forcing the reader to imagine what happens when unchecked scientific progress gets into the wrong hands with devastating consequences, and to consider the role memories play in our fundamental identity.

If you’re like us, this story may unlock your desire to fully map out the plot on a whiteboard (please send pics if you do 😜). The plot is highly complex without making the narrative feel muddled. Blake Crouch is a master of science fiction, but his appeal goes beyond the genre and we recommend this to anyone, not just sci-fi buffs! We at OWC are in agreement that this is a stellar 4.5 star read.

tw: su!cide


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