Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #3
Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Published: March 13th 2018 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5/5 stars ★★★★★
“Every story needs its hero. And its villain. And its monster.”
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?
Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.
With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.
5 of 5 stars to Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
*spoilers in the review*
At last, I have now finished reading Obsidio, the conclusion to the awesome interstellar war-adventure series, The Illuminae Files. As you may have not noticed, I did a reread of Illuminae and Gemina before jumping to Obsidio because I want to be able to identify events that happened in previous books which are mentioned here in the third installment. After said reread, I realize now that my worry over the Obsidio ominous quote, “Live a life worth dying for,” was all for nothing because in the epilogues of both books, we see the heroes at present time (meaning they obviously survived the ordeal) talking to a tribunal but I digress.. let us talk about Obsidio.
To say I have high expectations for the finale would be an understatement. After such an amazing (read: rollercoaster) reading experience in the first two books, I prepared myself for something moreㅡmore heartbreaking, more shocking, more grotesque, more freakyㅡaspects that both the two earlier books provided me. I was disappointed. Half of the things that made my Illuminae and Gemina experience so remarkable was absent in Obisidio. Yes, there were the good old thought provoking, life pondering questions, some heart wrenching deaths and loss but the shocking (same old mass murder element is used in the storyㅡthe shock over this has definitely worn off) and the freaky (no zombies, no alien life-suckers) aspects were missing in action.
However, upon reflection, these elements would have gotten old real quick if it was used again in the third book (just like the case with mass murder) so I somehow understand why it wasn’t important to add it anymore. I guess I was looking for another original idea that Illuminae and Gemina have managed to pull off which set itself apart from the rest of sci-fi novels out there, original ideas to make Obsidio more than just another sci-fi interstellar war novel.
Now you’re wondering why the 5 stars if the experience wasn’t supposedly as grand as the first two books. The answer is pretty simple: it’s the ending anyone could have asked for and an ending I needed. I realized I didn’t need anymore gory and freaky elements to spook me and just to spice up the reading experience. There are already enough elements in play to make the characters’ lives harder than ever, to make the story thrilling. The focus needed to be in the battle, the casualties, the point of views of the heroes, the villains, and the people in between. Adding zombie and lamina like plot devices would have diverted the focus of the story which is the fight of humans against themselves. The story is stripped down to the bare essentials and somehow that made it more real, more raw than the first two books.
In Obsidio, I see the struggles of both the refugees and the soldiers caught between the ambitions of power hungry corporations. Both didn’t sign up for an illegal existence (refugees) nor to become a murderer (Beitech foot soldiers only, because the higher ups definitely know what they’re doing) but they ended up to be the ones who suffered most. In Illuminae and Gemina, it was so easy to see who the bad guys were, so easy to put the blame on someone, to put a face on the enemy. But in Obsidio, you question those neat little boxes where you put the good and the bad. Suddenly, the lines are blurred, colors no longer just black and white but gray from all the point of views you are presented with. For a grand interstellar war set in 2575, Obsidio traditionally and appropriately ends with the question of humanity. And that is infinitely a more touching conclusion than any grand fanfare I have expected.
Story aside, the new heroes in the third book suffered a teeny tiny bit. They weren’t as interesting as Kady-Ezra and Hanna-Nik but that is understandable because this is where the entire story arc becomes full circle and there really isn’t much room to give these two new characters time to shine. Having said so, Asha Grant is one remarkable heroine, maybe not in the kick-ass way like Kady and Hanna are, but in the way she is so ordinary. Her character gave me comfort that even if I were considered a “non-essential” in their space
and time, I could still do miracles. See, Asha is not a computer prodigy like Kady, not an expert tactician and kung fu black belter like Hanna, but she is just as amazing, maybe even more, for fighting given the lack of her skill set. Rhys didn’t really leave much of an impression but still an important character because he provided the point of view of the Beitech foot soldiers just following orders, soldiers who do not know the bigger story. Also, he’s a funny guy like Ezra and Nik.
I feel the need to mention my now favortie couple in the series, Nik and Hanna. Their romantic plot didn’t really come full circle in Gemina unlike Ezra and Kadyㅡalso Asha and Rhys for that matterㅡwho had a big reunion and a passionate kiss at the end of their book. In fact, Hanna and Nik didn’t even kiss. Rereading Gemina reminded me that they kissed the alternate versions of themselves from a different universe. And because of their experience with the Gemina particle (opening them up to the idea of infinite universes), they say the most romantic and sweetest things to each other whenever they’re not fighting. I appreciate that after their escape from Heimdall, there was a realistic confusion as to where they stand as a couple. They didn’t really have time to dwell on it when they were running for their lives but in their down time at the Mao, they realize the extent of feelings they have for each other. I also love how funny Nik is, how he’s so whipped for Hanna and just lives to tease her (and everyone really) anytime he gets. It’s cute how they are the couple who the authors decided to leave allusions of getting married soon considering they have the shortest courtship (the other couples have long history).
Also, Nik’s dynamics with Ezra was gold. This duo are hilarious and they made the story feel youthful as it should be because they are still teenagers, heck. Ezra and Kady, meanwhile, may have a quiet love story but it’s as real and lasting as the others.
On a concluding note, Obsidio gave me a box full of feels. It made me cry (Katya), mad (Garver), smile silly (the couples) and by the end, calm and satisfied with how things wrapped up. The simple, cheerful dinner of ragtag kids at Vitaly’s is a scene that would remain with me forever.