YA Weekend Audio: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Series: Book 3 of The Illuminae Files
Publisher: Listening Library (March 13, 2018)
Length: 13 hrs
Narrators: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Carla Corvo, Full Cast
Despite knowing beforehand that Obsidio was meant to be the final book of a planned trilogy, I was still hit with a wave of shock upon finishing the novel. It’s over. I still can’t believe it’s really over! As for why this particular ending affected me so much, I genuinely believe it’s because The Illuminae Files is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kinds of stories—a series that will stand in its own class, as time will prove, though I have no doubt plenty of imitators will try to duplicate its successes in the years to come.
As for Obsidio itself, the story is once again told in the epistolary style established by the first two books, presented as a collection of transcripts, journal entries, emails, chat messages, and other types of documentation. It picks up from the end of Gemina, following the four major characters that have already been introduced—Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik—while adding still two more in to the mix: Asha Grant and Rhys Lindstrom.
Unlike the previous installments though, this time the focus of the tale is split. One part takes place aboard the container ship Mao, which has taken in the thousands of survivors from the Alexander fleet and Heimdall Station disasters, including Kady and her friends. With no place left to go, the refugees’ only option is to return to Kerenza, a planet still being illegally occupied by the megacorp BeiTech.
But things on Kerenza have only gone from bad to worse in the seven months since the planet was invaded. BeiTech’s military now holds the entire population hostage, forcing miners to carry on working or else see their loved ones brutally killed. In spite of this, an underground resistance has formed, fighting back using methods like sabotage and subterfuge. As the death toll rises on both sides, tensions on Kerenza reach a fever pitch. This provides the backdrop for the second part of the story, starring our new protagonists Asha and her old flame Rhys.
Asha, who is Kady’s cousin as well as a fervent member of the resistance, now finds herself working in the hospital on Kerenza, hating everything that BeiTech and their military enforcers have done to her planet. So imagine her surprise when one day, in walks her ex-boyfriend whom she hasn’t seen in years, and he’s all decked out in said military enforcer uniform, representing everything she is fighting against. Rhys, on his part, is just as shocked to see Asha, though he can’t really understand why she is so disappointed and angry. After all, he’s just a new recruit, freshly assigned to Kerenza with no real grasp of the messy situation he’s gotten himself into. He certainly doesn’t want to fight Asha, but because of who his employers are, he might not have a choice.
Of the three books in the series, Gemina still probably ranks as my favorite. But just because I didn’t think Obsidio was as good as its predecessor doesn’t mean I didn’t still love it to bits! Clearly, as you can see from my rating, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I thought this was a great read and a fantastic conclusion, even if we did lose a slight edge because of the split focus. The two previous books had the advantage of following exclusively one couple, while Obsidio needed to simultaneously keep track of no less than six characters, spread out between two very different settings. This also made it the most complex installment, with a lot of background information to cover. For all that, the authors still did an outstanding job keeping up the tensions and excitement, filling the plot with plenty of conflicts and plot twists.
Now this is where things in my review get a little tricky because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but another notable character also returns in the form of the artificial intelligence known as AIDAN. He likes to wax poetic about heroes, villains, and monsters, but which one is he? I’ll let you read the book and be the judge.
In any case, if you’ve been enjoying the series so far, there is no doubt in my mind you’ll also love Obsidio. There is just as much action, passion, and heartbreak. One might even venture to say it is the deepest and most emotional of the three books. This is where everything ties together, and in many ways, it’s apropos that Kerenza plays a big role again, so that the saga ends in the same place it began. Like all good conclusions, Obsidio encourages the reader to think back upon everything that has transpired, reflecting on the characters’ victories and losses. The final pages filled me with a warm sense of satisfaction and fondness, and at the end of the day that’s all I can really ask for.
Audiobook Comments: Once more, I just can’t stress how amazing this series is in audio. Unlike most regular productions, the audiobooks for The Illuminae Files are performed by a full cast complete with sound effects, so that the experience plays out like an epic movie in your mind. For a book like Obsidio, actually getting to hear the voices of the characters made the story even more intense and urgent. All the narrators delivered stellar performances, and I truly believe the fantastic acting was what put this one over the top. Highly recommended.