Review: OBSIDIO by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Ember
Page Count: 615
Release Date: March 13th, 2018
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It!

Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. You can read reviews for those books here: ILLUMINAE, GEMINA


When Hypatia fled the attack on Kerenza IV, not everyone was evacuated. A few thousand colonists survived the attack, only to be put under the oppressive occupation of stranded BeiTech forces. The colonists have been forced to work for months to mine the resources to power the jump station Magellan, and now they’re just a few weeks out from Magellan being fully operational. Desperate to buy whatever time they can, a secret resistance has formed among the colonists, working to slow down operations. Every day is the difference between life and death – for the day that Magellan is operational again is the day that BeiTech will execute the remaining colonists. But unbeknownst to Kerenza IV, help is on the way…if it can survive the journey.

OBSIDIO is the explosive finale to THE ILLUMINAE FILES that pays off every step of the journey so far. While there are two new characters (more on them in a moment), OBSIDIO also unites the main characters of ILLUMINAE and GEMINA. It’s a fantastic team-up as the heroes we’ve gotten to know separately finally get to work together as they try to defeat BeiTech once and for all. And they’ve got their work cut out for them, trying to figure out how to return to Kerenza when they don’t have enough resources to support the crew on the ship.

While old friends are back, we are also introduced to two new POV characters: Rhys, a BeiTech soldier freshly deployed to the surface, and Asha, a pharmacy intern and secret resistance member. Rhys and Asha are old flames who have been separated for years, reunited in the worst possible of circumstances. Rhys is grappling with the atrocities being committed against the colonists while also wanting to be loyal to the individual soldiers in his platoon. Asha, on the other hand, is trying to flip Rhys as an asset while shoving their traumatic past behind her. These characters are a little more ordinary than the expert hackers or trained blackbelts we’ve met before, but that’s one of the points of the story: how the most normal of people can make a difference.

OBSIDIO once again brings a shift in tone and focus to this sci-fi series. If ILLUMINAE drew from ALIEN and GEMINA was DIE HARD in space, OBSIDIO shares its tone with BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. It’s a gritty war story, with sacrifices being made by ordinary people to carve out whatever precious time they can in their fight for survival. And it’s not just Asha and Rhys that go through horrors. Some terrible choices are made on the rescue ship carrying the crew of the Hypatia, choices that may have been necessary but are no less dark because of them. This series may be categorized YA, but that it rarely pulls punches when it comes to the cost of survival.

While OBSIDIO returns with its format of collected chat transcripts, emails, journal entries, and more, there’s considerable more time given to “analysis” of security videos and body cams, which are written closer to a normal novel. While these sections were present in the other two books, their prevalence in this outing means the series loses a bit of the snappy pacing and intensity when pages hold a fraction of the normal word count. At the end of the day, however, this is still top-notch writing that managed to make me gasp in outrage and hold back tears in equal measure.

OBSIDIO brings THE ILLUMINAE FILES to a close with absolute satisfaction. From the beginning, this series has been innovative and gripping, using the format of the book itself to enhance the mood and tension. I’m so glad I finally made time to check out this series, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for dark, fast-paced sci-fi adventure.

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