Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)
By: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 13th, 2018
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.
Last summer, I decided to pick up a few light reads at the library, and stumbled across the Illuminae series, by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Well, long story short I pretty much didn’t stop reading until I finished both, and preordered the third book the SECOND I could. It landed on my doorstep this past week, and I immediately picked it up and started reading it.
The story picks up where Gemina left off–the survivors of the Kerenza attack teaming up with the survivors of the Heimdall station, and determining after intercepting a transmission that their best hope for survival is to go back to Kerenza, where the invading fleet has a new wormhole generator up and running. Back on Kerenza, it’s revealed that there are survivors of the invasion–who somehow managed to avoid the bioweapon that ravaged the evacuees. One of these is Kady’s cousin Asha, who works as a general medical assistant and is a part of a resistance force organized against the Beitech invaders. Of course, this gets complicated when Asha’s old love Rhys shows up as one of the enemy.
Whereas Illuminae and Gemina were, in a sense, two separate threads (they only got tied together towards the end of Gemina), Obsidio has the challenge of not only presenting yet another separate story–that of Asha, Rhys, and the colonists trapped on the planet of Kerenza–but also weaving that into the emerging tapestry of Kady, Ezra, Hannah and Nik. The new characters didn’t get nearly as much ‘screen time’ as the other couples did in the previous books. But it was evenly balanced, between the colonists and those who escaped now returning back. I wish there had been slightly more focus on Asha and Rhys–parts of their story and backstory felt rushed, almost gimmicky–but I understood that Kaufman and Kristoff were trying their hardest to balance things in a way that wouldn’t result in a book larger than Order of the Phoenix.
The reason I think their story deserved more prominence is that it deals very intensely with the notion of war crimes, the politics and brutality of invasion and resistance, and how the individuals caught in these circumstances navigate it. Rhys, a green techie who had never seen anything approximating war, was a good foil. Experiencing his realization that what Beitech had done was essentially genocide was powerful. But it was also interesting to see, from his perspective, how hardened the soldiers were to it, how they were hiding behind an ‘its us vs them’ and ‘we’re just following orders’. I thought Rhys was one of the most interesting characters of the series, just because of his own personal navigation of what is ‘right’, and his subsequent growth.
I was less impressed with Asha, but I think that’s because her characterization got shortchanged in the need to keep the book within a reasonable span of pages. She has her own reasons for doing things, but she’s not the strong force that Kady and Hannah are in the other books. She’s a part of the resistance, but not a major part, and she seems to be a more passive player in it. Her main act of the book is to show Rhys the side of view of the oppressed and impress on him the horrors she’s experienced at the hands of his fellow soldiers. Her other main characterization comes from her sheltering the only child left on Kerenza and trying to keep her from dying. Although I appreciated Asha’s softness and compassion, I kind of wished she’d had more personality, and been a bigger part of the story.
That being said, I might not sacrifice any of the story we got from Kady, Ezra, Hannah, Nik and Ella, the badass teens who prove that they’re the ones who can save the world. I enjoyed the further characterization I got from them (Hannah grappling with loss and her own actions, Kady coming to terms with what AIDAN can truly do), and LOVED how they started working together. I couldn’t get enough of Kady and Ella teaming up on geek squad, Ezra and Nik being cocky flyboys together, and Hannah showing she has more tactical knowledge than anyone else on the ship. Although there were parts that felt unnecessary to their story, I appreciated every glimpse I got of these characters. And I liked that I was seeing their creation of the Illuminae Files as I was reading the Illuminae Files–it was a nice bit of meta.
The ending was a bit rushed, but also enjoyable–I mean, kind of expected, but still with a neat little twist. ‘Rushed’ and ‘somewhat sparse’ are the two main complaints I have about the book–although I’d like to point out that my complaints aren’t with the plot, but mostly coming from a desire to have been able to read about 300-500 more pages of everyone’s story. I almost wish that the series hadn’t ended–although I have my fingers crossed that the hook they left at the end of Obsidio comes to some kind of fruition.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.