Dark Matter Book vs Show Review

This page will be updated as more episodes are released.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016)

Dark Matter created by Blake Crouch (2024)

The show was adapted by Black Crouch himself, so when I saw that I assumed it would be a pretty faithful adaptation, and three episodes in that has been the case! I also think the overall production looks great, the acting is solid, and it has been keeping my interest even though I already know what will happen. So if you like the book, I think you will be happy with the show so far and you should check it out!

If you have not read the book, I would still recommend the show but I would advise going into it knowing as little as possible! Don’t watch the trailers, don’t watch any videos on it, and just go watch it. I am reading the book for the second time right now, but my first time through I knew zero and it was such a great way to experience this story!

By the way, I did love the book the first time around and I would recommend it. I will say though, now that I am reading it for a second time, I don’t think it holds up quite as well when you already know what will happen. But I am only halfway right now so maybe when all is said and done, maybe I will feel differently.

From here on out I will be getting into spoilers for episodes 1-3. If you don’t know what happen later in the show, don’t worry because I will not spoil anything beyond episode three.

As said, book and show are very similar. The book has a cinematic feel to it, so it makes sense so much is kept the same. But we have Jason and Daniela who have been married for 15 years and have a 15 year old son. They had been dating when she unexpectedly got pregnant, they decided to marry and this caused them each to sacrifice their careers. Daniela was an aspiring artist and Jason was an aspiring scientist. While they each have moments where they are envious of other people’s career success and perhaps wonder what they could have achieved, untimely they have no regrets and they love each other, love their son, and love the life they have created for themselves.

One night though, Jason is kidnapped by a man in a mask, is drugged, and he awakes in a world where people think he is some big-time scientist. Turns out, Jason is in an alternate universe and in this world, he and Daniela decides not to have their baby and split ways. He then went on to create a box which is the gateway to the multiverse. The Jason from this world (who I will refer to as Jason2 from here on out) decides he want to use the box to find the world where he and Daniela stayed together because he regrets having left her. Jason2 then takes over the life of our main Jason, and has our main Jason take over the life where he is a big time hot shot, giving him the chance to experience life as a successful and wealthy scientist who has made this groundbreaking mechanism.

Our Jason is able to escape the facility he wakes up in, and tracks down Daniela. She has become a successful artist and tells him how things played out for them in this world. They spend time together though before people from Velocity-the company that was funding Jason2’s project, show up and kill Daniela. The box is under wraps still and they can’t risk word getting out.

When he gets back to Velocity, he pretends that he is their Jason and learns the details of what the Jason2 had created. However, along with Daniela, he had told an old friend, Ryan, the details of him being kidnapped and waking up in their world. Ryan had called Velocity, thinking he was helping, telling them this. Velocity takes Ryan and ends up killing him and locking Jason up.

The psychiatrist who works for Velocity doesn’t agree with how leadership is handling things, and breaks Jason out and the two escape into the box. The third episode ends with them in the box, seeing a never-ending corridor with doors that lead to various worlds they can choose.

Jason

One of the bigger changes so far is with Jason2 as he takes over the life of our main Jason. In the book, we get flashes from Daniela’s perspective and she is noticing how Jason is different in various ways but that is all we are getting.

In the show we see much more with Jason2 and I am really loving it. Maybe because it wasn’t in the book and so I am not familiar with these plot details and it has me very intrigued. It’s also interesting to see how he tries to act “normal” as he tries to fit into this life so different than his own.

We also see his storage unit of supplies, showing he had been living in this world for a little while, getting things ready before he kidnapped the other Jason. We also get a scene after a few days where Daniela asks him why he is acting so different. He tells her it is because the night he got home late he was almost hit by a cab and it made him realize how important she is. This is in the book too, but this was that very night when he comes home, he tells her this.

So far, the stuff with the Jason that was kidnapped has been mostly the same. But in both, he takes forever to realize what has been happening. On one hand, he seems pretty dense because in both worlds he had been working on this theory it’s just that in Jason2’s world he actually succeeded. But on the other hand, even though Jason is familiar with this theory and had been working on it in his earlier days, something so insane would take a long time to come to terms with.

When he connects with artist Daniela in the show, she goes with him to get his notes on what Jason2 has created. So when he is with her, he is able to explain what is happening to him. She then asks him about the life they have together in this alternate reality and this was one of my favorite scenes of the show. I felt the emotion and chemistry between the actors and was sucked into this tender moment.

Speaking of relationships though, Jason2 had been in a relationship with Amanda the psychiatrist whereas in the book that was not the case.

Ryan

I haven’t mentioned Ryan much, but in the world where Jason is not successful, Ryan had won the Pavia prize and is a very condescending, arrogant person. His celebration is where Jason was coming home from the night he was kidnaped, and while there in the tv show, Ryan had offered Jason a job with him in San Francisco. When Jason2 takes over, he tells Ryan he likes his life in Chicago and has zero interest. He also gets upset with Ryan when Daniela says that Ryan had called her to see about the job. However, Ryan is later invited to a dinner party they host and Jason2 and he make up. But clearly Jason2 really doesn’t like Ryan. The job offer and the dinner party were not in the book.

In the world where Jason is successful, it is he who won that Pavia and he had reached out to Ryan to get help making a compound to help with the box, but Jason2 didn’t tell Ryan what he was working on. In the book, in this world, Ryan and Daniela had recently started dating but this isn’t the case in the show. He and Daniela are just friends.

Velocity

In the show we see more about the company Velocity and the guy who runs in, Leighton. We also see cops come visit the facility and question Leighton and Amanda about Jason2, who had been missing for 14 months. The only people who knew what happened to Jason2 were those at Velocity, but again, the whole project was under wraps so most people just thought he had gone missing. In the show, the police also ask about an employee of theirs named Blaire, who had been the first to use the box and never came out. In the book, we don’t see police questioning Leighton and while there was an employee who used the box that never came out, we never hear about any repercussions with their disappearance in the book.

Final thoughts

While reading the book it brought to mind It’s a Wonderful Life, we have successful Jason who realizes the success doesn’t mean as much as he thought and he is left regretting not staying with Daniela, hence why he takes over another Jason’s life. And the book has the overall message of not taking your life for granted kind of a thing.

In the show, when Jason2 is in the world where he is with Daniela, he is going down the stairs and the banister top is loose. This seemed like a nod to It’s a Wonderful Life which I would was a nice subtle touch.

Even though I suspect the show will continue to be very similar to the book, I am excited to see the remaining episodes.