Study Guide

Dark Matter Love

By Blake Crouch

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Her breath is wine-sweet, and she has one of those smiles that seems architecturally impossible. It still slays me. (1.22)

We're going to keep that "architecturally impossible smile" quip in our back pockets for the next time we're in trouble with our significant others and need to earn some brownie points. That'll work like a charm.

"It's like we get so set in our ways, so entrenched in those grooves, we stop seeing our loved ones for who they are. But tonight, right now, I see you again." (4.31)

This would be super romantic if it weren't uttered by a parallel-universe doppelgänger who kidnapped Daniela's real husband and took his place. That makes it more than a little creepy. Still, it also shows us just how much Jason2 loves Daniela, and how much he regrets his decision to leave her.

They haven't been unhappy [...] [b]ut it's been a long, long time since she felt that sense of giddy love that effervesces in the pit of your stomach and spectacularly upends the world. (4.50)

Jason and Daniela have a great marriage by any standard, but their relationship is very much in a different place from where it was when they first met. At the beginning, it was all butterflies in the stomach, extended make-out sessions, and long lingering looks in each other's eyes. Now it's about trust, stability, and loyalty. Both aspects have value, but they're quite different.

She reaches over and touches my hand. Pure electricity. (5.369)

Jason's bond with Daniela is so strong that it's "electric" even when he's with a parallel universe version of her. Intellectually, he knows this Daniela not the woman he loves, but his heart feels otherwise. And actually, which Daniela is the real one? Is there a real one? Or is Daniela a combination of all of her incarnations?

He did these things so he could step into my shoes.

So he could have the life that's mine.

The woman I love. (7.520-522)

It's at this point that Jason realizes he was kidnapped by his parallel self so that the doppelgänger could feel what it's like to be married to Daniela. Oof. It's super creepy, of course, but we guess it also shows the extent of Jason's love for Daniela.

He looks at her with a smoldering intensity that reminds her of the way new lovers stare into each other's eyes. (9.23)

The big difference between Jason and Jason2 is that Jason2 treats Daniela as if he and she were new lovers rather than a long-time married couple. This is great, on a certain level, and it certainly makes Daniela feel good, but it's also a little strange. It just doesn't feel right, right?

There were moments, early on, when I considered running from Daniela. Not because I wasn't crazy about her, but because on some level, I was afraid of losing her. (10.594)

Maybe this is the real reason why Jason2 left his version of Daniela. He might claim that he did it to focus on his scientific experimentation, but perhaps he simply was scared of the emotional impact of potentially losing her. After all, he was scarred by the loss of his mother in childhood.

There is nothing else I want.

Just my Daniela.

I want her in a way I can't explain. (122.160-162)

Ultimately, Jason realizes that the number one thing that defines his universe is his relationship with Daniela. His apartment is fine. His job is swell. His son is amazing. But nothing is as important to him as his wife.

Is Daniela happier now than she was a month ago, with me?

Can I stand to know the answer to that question? (13.39-40)

When he finally reunites with Daniela, Jason can't help but wonder if she was happier with Jason2. It's a valid question. Does she prefer that new-relationship passion to the quiet stability of a long-term relationship? Does she prefer her life as an established artist?

"Do you want this other Jason?"

"No. I want the man I've made a life with. The man I made Charlie with. But I need to know you're that man." (14.179-180)

Now that's an aww-worthy moment, folks. Daniela certainly enjoyed the passion that Jason2 brought to their relationship, but she ultimately wants to be with the man she fell in love with—not some parallel universe version of him that lacks his most defining traits.

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