Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter defies genre. It is moving, disruptive, scary, and cerebral simultaneously. The action shatters into the narrative within the first several pages and just grows in intensity until reaching its nail-biting conclusion. As action-driven as the book is, though, there are indelible moments of imagery and real emotion. It’s really a masterclass in how to tell a darn good story. This riveting novel is also deeply personal, challenging all of us to confront our own darkest selves–this novel throws our human fantasy of revisiting the paths not taken into a scathing, searing light.
In looking at the cover of Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl and reading the back blurb, one might expect to learn a lot about plants and how one woman grew her scientific career around them. And it does deliver on those fronts. But it’s also about much, much more. This memoir is about families who refuse to express pain, about the stigmas surrounding mental illness and poverty, about the funding crisis for scientific research in this country, about motherhood, and about how gender impacts the trajectory of a career. Above all, in the unforgettable portrayal of Jahren’s decades-long friendship with her lab partner, it is one of the most touching stories of platonic love between a man and a woman that I’ve ever read. Anyone who reads this book will be richer for it. And yes, you’ll also learn things about plants along the way.
John Wyndham’s science fiction parable The Chrysalids remains resonant, despite its 1955 publication date. It’s a quick and somewhat simple read, told from a child’s point of view. The novel’s strength comes from its thorough, unrelenting confrontation with intolerance, seen from the view of an indoctrinated innocent. David knows that if anyone ever finds out his own secret, he and others like him will be branded less than human and hunted down. He also knows that it will only be so long before that inevitably happens. Yet, he still struggles to accept that mutation and difference may not be evil after all. Religious zealotry is a powerful force. What’s the difference between deformity and evolution? Where is the line between mercy and murder? Powerful questions fuel this powerful little book.