Obsidio, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This was one of my two most anticipated books of this year, and I made sure to preorder a copy so I could start reading it as soon as it came out. I was a little over a year late to the party for the first part, Illuminae, but I almost immediately jumped into the second part, Gemina. I placed the two of them atop my Top 10 Books Read in 2017 list, with Gemina slightly edging out Illuminae. With them holding that top spot, I had high expectations for the thrilling conclusion.

I try to be spoiler-free in my reviews, but I can’t make that guarantee for previous books in a series. If you haven’t read Illuminae and/or Gemina yet, then don’t continue reading this review. Go out and get those two books and read them; they’re amazing.

The big question is whether or not Obsidio would live up to such lofty expectations. I’ll start by saying that for the most part, it does. This is as pretty close to a flawless science fiction series there is. It’s a stunning combination of story and style, and I’m impressed with the construction of the series. The chat logs, the memos, the emails, the schematics, the online data pages, and the video surveillance transcripts were all meticulously created and arranged to tell a coherent and compelling story. And one of my favorite parts of Obsidio is learning who compiled all these files and why.

But I’m ahead of myself. First, some story basics. Kady and Ezra from Illuminae and Hanna and Nik from Gemina have met up and are headed back to Kerenza IV (the colony that was attacked at the start of Illuminae). There’s tremendous friction between the survivors of the separate situations from the previous books. They have different ideas on the right way to avenge the friends and family members that have died, especially since the teens that have saved the day have been elevated to leadership positions. Adding to the tension is the reactivation of AIDAN, perhaps the most memorable AI since 2001’s HAL 3000, who has taken logical steps of questionable ethics in order to preserve as many lives as possible.

While the countdown to their arrival and surprise revenge attack on Kerenza ticks down, so does the timer for the BeiTech operatives that have been occupying Kerenza for the previous seven months. They’re forcing the colonists to continue mining hermium so they can repair the jump capabilities of one of their ships. Meanwhile, an insurgency develops among the residents, because they know that once BeiTech fixes a ship, they’re just going to finish the job and torch Kerenza.

This is where we meet the two new main characters Asha and Rhys. Asha is Kady’s cousin and one of the survivors on Kerenza. Meanwhile, Rhys is Asha’s ex-boyfriend, who’s a young computer technician for BeiTech reassigned to the occupation. This is an intriguing character dynamic, and it allows the reader to get information from both sides of the conflict on the planet’s surface. I won’t go into details, but the characters utilize each other in interesting ways, and the authors utilize those characters in clever ways.

However, I didn’t feel as connected with Asha and Rhys as deeply as I did with the other two couples. In Illuminae, it was only Kady and Ezra (and AIDAN), and they’re great characters, connected by their relatable high-school romance and break-up. In Gemina, I had trouble with Hanna and Nik at first—not because they were very disparate characters, but because they weren’t Kady and Ezra—but they grew on me, and I found them to be more complex and compelling. Here in Obsidio, Asha and Rhys share the story with everyone else, and that’s where the difficulty connecting with them lay. It’s not a bad thing, because the overall story is still exciting and engaging; it’s just one element that places this book a hair below Gemina for me.

The story is amazing. There are places that made me laugh, places that made me gasp, places that upset me, and a place or two where I got teary-eyed. The final confrontation, taking place on multiple fronts, occurred during a gripping 75-100 pages, though I quickly predicted certain developments (an issue I did not have with the previous two books). And that only knocks it down a hair below Illuminae.

Still, it’s a top-notch book and a fitting conclusion to the series. My quibble about Asha and Rhys isn’t really a complaint because the rest of the characters have to figure prominently in the story. It’s just an observation. To say this is my least favorite book in the series makes it sound petty, as I’m comparing three amazing parts of one amazing series, and like the previous two books, I’m giving Obsidio FIVE STARS—and I expect it to be near the top of my Top 10 Books Read in 2018 list.

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Obsidio is available at Amazon.

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