This book made me want to tear my hair out and if not for my strong self-control, I wouldn’t have any nails left. But I managed to retain my head of hair and most of my fingernails.
Where do I even begin with this book and this series as a whole! Reading these books is a unique experience because they are so different from anything else out there. And the best part, it’s not simply a gimmick, Kristoff and Kaufman have woven an intricate and incredibly detailed narrative and then designed the book around that. The words and design work seamlessly and make for an amazing reading experience.
A brief summary, Obsidio is the final book in the Illuminae Files series. It follows the survivors on the planet Karenza IV and their condition post the attack by the BeiTech corporation. It also simultaneously follows the survivors aboard the Mao and Hypatia and their race to get back to the planet after Heimdall was destroyed.
It is finally over and I think I still haven’t completely processed it and all the stuff that went down. Obsidio is awesome!! It is amazing!! Having said that, is it as good as Illuminae and Gemina, I think it is. It is also different from the first two books in that the novel gave as much time to Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik and Ella as it did to Asha and Rhys.
I think that switch works well considering that this was the final book in the series with a lot of loose ends to tie up and a long way to go before the plot could reach a satisfying end. I fully expected this book to be about Asha and Rhys and was very pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise.
Being familiar with Kristoff and his bloodthirsty tendencies towards his characters, I knew that no character was safe till the very end, till the page said “The End” and I did not put it beyond the authors to make the character deaths as painful as they could possibly be. For a book categorised as YA, Kaufman and Kristoff do not pull any punches lest the redacted curse words fool you. Be prepared, some of the deaths will gut you.
This book stressed me out enough that there were times when I had to put it aside and just walk for a few minutes, either because I knew that something horrible was about to happen or because something horrible did happen and I had to take a breather to process it. And the fact that the narrative jumped between Karenza and the Mao, the character chapters did not necessarily follow a pattern, this was slightly chaotic but I did not mind it in the least.
I love the design of these books and you can see the effort that goes into producing these beauties. The analyst commentaries are hilarious as ever, I love that guy. This time there was significantly more artwork by the wonderful Marie Lu. There is so much more going in these books beyond just the written words.
The list of characters in Obsidio is also considerably larger than the previous books, in terms of just the protagonists. We have Asha and Rhys as well as Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik, Ella and Isaac Grant. In addition to these, we have a lot of new secondary characters as well as returning faces like Syra Bol, Winifred McCall to name a few. If I tried to write about all the important characters, this review would be ridiculously long, so I shall attempt to be brief.
I really liked Asha, she wasn’t a hacker like Kady or a master tactician like Hanna, she was an ordinary girl, who worked as a pharmacy intern. But she possesses the same internal strength and steel that allowed the other girls to power through whatever the universe BeiTech threw at them. She joined the resistance and tried to do her part even if it meant putting her life on the line.
Rhys, on the other hand, I did not like him in the beginning. I found his naïveté frustrating, the fact that he refused to see what had been done to the people of Karenza. But, once he did find out and saw what his own “brothers’ were doing, he did question their actions and often. But Asha and Rhys didn’t quite have the same kind of pull as the 2 other couples. So if I had to list one complaint, that would be it.
I would be remiss in reviewing Obsidio if I did not mention AIDEN, the resident insane AI. AIDEN is not what he used to be, nor is he as powerful as he once was. But he is still every bit as unpredictable as it was. I have to say that AIDEN is one of my favourite characters in the entire series. I love him.
I was right!!!!! When I heard the Illuminae audiobook, I said that the book read more like a love-story between AIDEN and Kady and that’s exactly what happened here!!!! It was heartbreaking and heart-warming at the same damn time! It blew me away because I thought that maybe I was reaching and it was my weird imagination, but no! It was real AIDEN fell in love with Kady and I think Kady felt the same. Not the same thing she felt for Ezra but as close to love as it could be. They went through so much together and that created a strong bond between them.
Some honourable mentions:
Ben Garver- pain in the ass from the very beginning! He was so annoying, self-important, pompous ass!
Sergeant Oshiro- she was such a hard-ass, no-nonsense person. I liked that about her and the fact that she had some semblance of a conscience, which is more than what I can say about some of the other characters.
One of the aspects that I really about the series is its inclusivity in terms of ethnicity, race, religion and sexual orientation. This is still not something that we see as often as we should and every time I do see it, I am very happy.
It’s hard to top an Illuminae and then Gemina and while Obsidio doesn’t quite achieve that, it is still every bit as amazing as those two. It is a worthy end to an amazing series and certainly one that lends itself so well to re-reading. I loved every minute of this incredible journey!