Review: “Obsidio” by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman
Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3) 
by Amie Kaufman (Goodreads Author)Jay Kristoff (Goodreads Author)

5 stars out of 5
This review has been truncated due to the presence of spoilers. You can read the review in its entire, un-redacted format on Goodreads.

AIDAN was the secret protagonist of this series and you cannot convince me otherwise.

Well, guys, we finally made it. We survived — or, at least, that’s what we’ll tell ourselves. What a ride this trilogy has been — we’ve endured blitz attacks on illegal mining operations, deadly pathogens, psychotic AI who like to muse philosophically on life and death, organised crime, psychotropic slime, rebellions, romance, and really just a whole lot of death and violence. I don’t want to actually contemplate the body-count this series racked up, because that might be a little demoralising. [Would it really tho?]

Obsidio picks up beautifully from where Gemina left off, showing both the aftermath of the Jump Station Heimdall incident as well as what’s been happening back on Kerenza IV — the latter of which, I am now realising upon a re-read of the first novel, was actually referenced sneakily in one of the Unipedia articles as a “see more”/“read further” element. I should’ve known that Kristoff and Kaufman wouldn’t obliquely mention a “resistance effort” on Kerenza IV without realising that we would, of course, see that resistance eventually. After all, who doesn’t love a good resistance story?

What’s interesting about the resistance story of Kerenza IV, for me, isn’t actually the resistance itself: it’s watching the change in the character of Rhys Lindstrom. He’s the character who must undergo the clearest shift over the course of the novel, given that he starts “on the side” of the series villain, BeiTech Industries. It doesn’t hurt that Rhys clearly possesses a moral compass and easily recognises, as well as calls out, the atrocities that his fellow “pounders” commit on Kerenza IV in the name of “direct orders” and “just doing their job.” It’s not hard to see parallels to, say, WWII in these portions of the novel.

And yet even more than Rhys Lindstrom, the small, yet significant change in the character of Oshiro, Lindstrom’s superior and sort-of-mentor, is the thematic backbone of the entire Kerenza IV portion. The resistance is morally in the right, and so Asha Grant doesn’t need to evolve or develop; Rhys pretty easily sees and fights against what is clearly (not even esoterically) wrong in what he is being told to do; and so it is up to somebody deeply entrenched within the BeiTech system to make the change. Oshiro is the perfect candidate, given that her father believed so emphatically in the idea that “a soldier is loyal to his conscience” above all else. As everything escalates and all hell breaks loose on Kerenza IV, it’s that idea which finally comes to the forefront, and it was something I actively rooted for, especially with Oshiro.

But let’s talk about AIDAN. We need to talk about AIDAN. Not only is it the maybe-not-so-secret protagonist of this series, but it undergoes the most significant development not only over the course of the entire trilogy, but Obsidio. I have to keep reminding myself to refer to AIDAN as “it” and not “he” — a habit I picked up from Illuminae due to linking its infamous “Am I not merciful?” line in my head to the similar line in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator — which is perhaps one of the most important things to always remember about AIDAN…it is not human. AIDAN’s logic would (and frequently does) appall humans because we are wired for empathy, whereas it is not. It is wired with a kind of twisted Spock-logic: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one,” which is how it so easily makes the decision to kill (read: murder) thousands of people.

AIDAN, however, does have some flaws — what frequently read as “errors” in its communication. And these errors are what add further dimension and depth to what could have been an easy HAL 3000 situation.

On the whole, Obsidio is a satisfying conclusion to what has been a phenomenally entertaining trilogy. Sure there’s a lot of “you are the one” true love confessions which make me roll my eyes a little, but it does tend to play well into the high drama of the series about 90% of the time, so it’s really only a small 10% of it that reminds me we’re absolutely in the land of YA fiction. And that’s a very small price to pay for the amount of fun and feel Is got from this series. It’s got everything that you want in a sci-fi adventure, and created what will remain, for me, one of the best and most iconic characters in AIDAN.

So…is Andromeda Cycle out yet?

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