Three years ago Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff burst into the young adult science fiction market with “Illuminae,” book No. 1 in The Illuminae Files series.
The first two books in The Illuminae Series follow two different set of teens in a world where humans have ventured beyond our galaxy and space adventures abound.
“Obsidio” (Knopf Books) brings Kady and Ezra from “Illuminae,” and Hanna and Nik from “Gemina” together for one final galaxy saving adventure aided, once again, by the troublesome Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network (AIDAN) that might rival Hal from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: Space Odyssey.”
In “Obsidio,” Kaufman and Kristoff continue to use the confines of a spaceship with dwindling resources and only one way out to create tension that drives the story forward. It is a page-turner as two crews, one from the Hypatia and the other from the Heimdall Station, clash over differing opinions on their next best course of action that will ensure their survival light-years away from Earth.
Kady, Ezra, Hanna and Nik attempt to get the bickering adults to see that the true fight lies with Beitech. They also struggle for those in command to see them as valuable resources that can provide solutions to the growing list of problems — not enough food, space and air.
Kaufman and Kristoff give voice to today’s teens through Kady’s, Ezra’s, Hanna’s and Nik’s stories. All four just want to be young, fall in love and grow up without having to worry if they will be alive tomorrow.
In The Illuminae Files series, and even more so in “Obsidio,” readers will see reflections of our own world, despite it being set centuries in the future.
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“Obsidio” does fall short on two points. Kaufman and Kristoff felt the need to add another couple to the mix, Asha and Rhys. After spending 600-plus pages with Kady and Ezra and another 600-plus pages with Hanna and Nik, Asha and Rhys having to share the final 600 pages with four characters who have had a chance to grow and change combined with the task of wrapping up a series, cause Asha and Rhys to fade into the background. They don’t get the chance to grow and change to the same degree as the other four main characters.
In the end, they fail to earn the same level of emotional connection that the other four characters do.
Death is taken a bit too lightly in “Obsidio.” Despite the problems AIDAN caused in “Illuminae,” it gains independence to run the systems on the Hypatia and takes the matter of the survival of the crew seriously. Ultimately, AIDAN makes a momentous decision that is shocking and troubling. The incident is only a few pages long, the effects are far reaching (leading to more death), but once that plotline raps up, it seems to be forgotten. This rolls into the conclusion of the story and the final battle where the stakes for our four main characters feel real (will they survive or not), but beyond losing a few periphery characters, no life-or-death sacrifice is required for them.
After three books and experiences with other similar young adult dystopian fiction novels, readers might not be expecting such a happy ending, nor may they want one. The ending was a little too perfect and free of sacrifice in comparison.
By the end of “Obsidio,” readers discover who is responsible for compiling the documents they have been combing through regarding the events that happened on Kerenza, a distant planet and the Heimdall Station.
While the ending of “Obsidio,” and The Illuminae series, might be a bit too picture-perfect for some readers, the unique layout of all three novels presents a new way to approach a story as it is told through military communications, instant message conversations, ASCII pictures, illustrations and transcripts is well worth the reading time.