Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, released in North America on March 13, 2018, was perhaps one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. Despite my initial apprehension, I ended up loving Illuminae, then Gemina, unable to tear my eyes away from the video logs, journal entries, chat logs, hand drawn images, and visually stunning word art, I fell in love with the unique style I once thought I would find jarring, and I could not wait to dive into this unique world in Obsidio once again.
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.
“An adrenaline-pumping action story with timely themes and lasting resonance thanks to the focus on the characters’ humanity.”—Kirkus, starred review
As expected, Obsidio certainly did not disappoint, with Kaufman and Kristoff delivering a “out-of-this-world-awesome” reading experience that rivals Illuminae when it comes to the story, the characters, and the pay-off, easily out-doing Gemina.
“The die is cast. But today we will shake the table upon which it lands.” – Amie Kristoff and Jay Kristoff, Obsidio
Let’s start with the characters, because anyone who has read Illuminae, Gemina or now Obsidio will know that the character’s experience – their trials, their pain, their successes, and their joy – are the center-focus of these novels, regardless of their out-of-this-world setting. The characters in this book have witnessed the deaths of their loved ones and they are making active efforts to bring significant changes, despite the fact that their inputs are continuously disparaged and largely ignored by the adults in power, all under the pretext of their young age being a barrier despite the fact that they have, and continue to make, huge differences in the effort to make it back to Kerenza and expose BeiTech.
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik are back, along with other supporting cast members like AIDAN, and are joined by Asha and Rhys, who’s perspectives give the reader insight into the goings-on on Kerenza as the Heimdall survivors barrel their way back through space. All the teens are resilient, motivated, and human, their uncertainties lingering as they make every decision, for better or for worse. And they are brave – so exceptionally brave – making decisions and actions that most adults would be terrified to even consider, despite the fact that they wouldn’t even be old enough to order a drink if they lived in North America.
As previously mention, this story is told through audio logs, IM records, video descriptions, found footage, and pages from Hanna’s journal (illustrated by Marie Lu), among other things. One thing I’ve always enjoyed is the countdowns (like the one from Illuminae shown above) that are interspersed throughout the book, sounting down to an inevitable climax.
This way of storytelling is truly unique, and Kristoff and Kaufman have undoubtedly mastered it, flawlessly telling a rich, complex story through this odd narrative – one I have not seen executed in any other Young Adult novels (in recent memory). Furthermore, pages from Hanna’s journal (illustrated by Marie Lu) were also quite cool, and once again added a more human element to the story, instead of just computer logs and printoffs, giving the reader excellent visuals with which to envision the hijinks and characters while reading.
Combine all of this, and one thing is for certain – readers will never be bored while reading Obsidio. Between the audio logs, IM records, video descriptions, found footage, and pages from Hanna’s journal, there’s enough going on the enrapture the attention, and then keep the reader glued to this wondrous, out-of-this-world story.
“There is a moment just after the die is cast and before it lands upon the gaming table in which the smallest breeze may change its course-the way it rolls and where it comes to rest. The die is cast. But today we will shake the table upon which it lands.” Amie Kristoff and Jay Kristoff, Obsidio
Finally, I just have to say that I really enjoyed how Kaufman and Kristoff concluded this series, connecting all three book in the Illuminae Files through just that – the Illuminae Files – and the ongoing court case that reaches its final verdict as Obsidio reaches its conclusion, giving readers a sense of continuity and conclusion.
Overall, Obsidio was a fantastic read, once again delivering a YA Science Fiction masterpiece that features a very human, heart-wrenching story told from multiple perspectives through the exemplary use of video logs, journal entries, chat logs, hand drawn images, and visually stunning word art (among other things). As the concluding piece the the Illuminae Files trilogy, Obsidio also shines, giving readers a sense of continuity and conclusion as it wraps up the story that began on Kerenza with Kady and Ezra, continued on Heimdall with Hanna and Nik, and careened towards disaster as Asha and Rhys struggled to survive under Beitech’s rule (5/5).