Where to start with this one? To say it's been long awaited would be a bit of an understatement- the Illuminae Files have been such a hit, and the format of the story so unique, that everyone and their brother has been waiting for this seems like. I was no exception. And I'm happy to report that this one rocked. I was expecting this to be a slight come-down for me as I really loved Gemina, but no- this one was amazing also. A solid conclusion, and all the feels.
All the feels. This one had some serious emotional heft, and I guess that's only natural given the stakes in this one. All the survivors from the first two books are now en route to Kerenza IV, the scene of the invasion that started all this, but things are grim. With supplies dwindling and AIDAN acting rather sketchy (yes, AIDAN is back) they really have their work cut out for them. And we get to return to Kerenza itself, as we see that the BeiTech occupation there really is not going that well.
There are a few issues though. Just like the first two books we have a couple who have to overcome adversity and a rough personal history to work together, and that makes three couples now sharing this story. Might be one too many. Asha and Rhys are great but I don't think they were characterized quite as well, although to be fair they share a lot of space in this book with other characters, so there isn't enough time to really get to know them. They were just a little more cardboard cut-out to me. Also there were some things that seemed a bit convenient, which I'll touch on more below in my spoilers section.
I'm happy to report that I liked AIDAN more this time around. Lots of people seemed to like him in the first book but he irritated me, and here I felt much better about him. A big part of its story is- what makes us human? Or more accurately, what makes us alive? When AIDAN thinks he exists because he has thought, he has a point there. He's clearly self- aware, but not only that, he feels- if feels isn't the right word, he has something that makes him more than machine. Can a machine grow to love a human? AIDAN certainly makes us wonder that. This element of the story was done so well, and of the feels I mentioned- yeah AIDAN is part of that.
We also get another military perspective here, like the assault team in Gemina. Here they are ground pounders, the infantry force occupying Kerenza. The surviving colonists on the planet are trying to fight back as best they can, as well as survive, and the authors really want to explore both sides.
One thing that really struck me was the idea of how many variables can decide your fate in a conflict like this. IS there such a thing as luck? In the story they really get across how random things can be, and how heartless war is. Not something to be glamorised or romanticised- there are real people on both sides, with loved ones, and their fate rests on a chance occurrence. There were a few standout moments for me as well, such as when Katya and Asha were talking faith. I loved seeing Hanna back in the fray again and the interplay between the players- including Kady, Ella, and even AIDAN- was awesome.
So yeah, this one rocked. It made me feel a lot more than the average YA book does, and I've said it before but I really think some of the best science fiction is happening in YA now. This is a perfect example.
Just a few additional observations. These may sound like complaints but I really did like this one, they're just things that came to mind. Mostly realism issues. We learned that there were about 18,000 colonists on Kerenza, and since the mining operation was illegal, the BeiTech goons felt at least partly justified in their harsh tactics. Harsh being an understatement! But if there only roughly 3,000 colonists left, that means BeiTech liquidated about 15,000. Just... wow.
I don't really see how BeiTech could keep that under wraps, jump gate disabling and covert assets at Heimdall notwithstanding. And if this is the 25th century or whatever, why are so many things similar to now? Servers still take up a ton of space, apparently look just like they look now (wouldn't miniaturization be way more advanced?) and weapons are things like railguns and nukes. No high energy weapons?
I also thought the authors did a great job though of humanizing the soldiers in various ways, even as they behaved horribly. The cat that they took care of even as they executed colonists brought home the contradictions inherent in wartime, when people are killing other people. Also there some chilling moments in the aforementioned interactions between AIDAN and the protagonists- I thought especially when AIDAN took it upon itself to implement "population control"- the conversation with Ella about maybe needing to kill was chilling.
Some standout POV's for me were Hanna, Ella, AIDAN (surprisingly) and even McCall. She was refreshing and I was hoping she wouldn't die! I did think the apparent deaths of Ezra and Nik were a little cheapened when it turned out they survived. Not that I wanted them dead, but it was such a powerful moment, and really reinforced the grim reality that not all of these characters were going to survive. So I was a little disappointed there.
I avoided the spoiler section because I haven't read it yet (sooooon!) but I can't wait to read this book and I'm so glad to hear from so many people that it's a solid conclusion because I'm always afraid for a disappointing end to a series.ReplyDelete
Spoilers are funny and I hesitate to include them, but I'm kinda trying it out to see how it goes. And this is a solid conclusion, for sure- hope you love it!!Delete
I liked the sound of the first book but I never usually enjoy a format that isn't just a straight read. Graphics, reports, diary entries, emails...all that stuff usually switches me off. I have avoided reading the review in case I do get to the books at some point though.ReplyDelete
It is a different format. And I bought it in e-book, which makes it even harder to read arguably. although TBH I didn't have much trouble. I liked the unusual format but by book three the novelty had worn off some...Delete
I avoided the spoiler section as well . . . I've been meaning to read The Illuminae Files for quite a while now, I think it's time to make some space for it! In case you're wondering, your 'All the feels' totally worked its charm ;)ReplyDelete
Good! :) It really did stir emotions, a bit. Which is a testament to the authors I suppose. :) And I think you'll love em- the second book is one of my fave SF books evar!Delete
Glad you liked it!! I am a little nervous going in because I loved the last two books. Great review :)ReplyDelete
I did too, and Gemina was a fave. It's really good though, I think you'll be pleased.Delete
Glad to hear this one rocked for you! like all this military action! And yes, I often think war gets glamorised or romanticised. I also agree that all the attention YA age group is getting is making most genres vastly improve. IReplyDelete
II'm not a fan of overly military science fiction but it worked in Gemina and mostly works here, especially given that they obviously wanted to touch on some of these subjects. But it did rock and I recommend highly!Delete
I didn’t read your spoilers, but I’m glad you liked the book. I need to reread the first two before I read this one. I have a terrible memory. I also didn’t like AIDAN in the first book. I was surprised that so many people liked him/it. Great review!ReplyDelete
Aj @ Read All The Things!
I had the exact same feeling- AIDAN didn't work for me in the first one. I'm happy to report that he was more interesting to me in this one, and even borderline funny?Delete
Oh, I loved AIDEN in the previous books, but I'm glad you enjoyed him more in this one. I still really need to re-read the first two before getting Obsidio though so everything is fresh.ReplyDelete
I really did! I was leery of it reappearing but AIDAN worked for me a LOT more this one. And I think reading all three straight thru would be really fun!Delete
I completely agree with you about AIDAN--I definitely like him more in this book than I have in the previous ones. It was so fascinating to experience AIDAN's progressions and deal with the questions you mentioned.ReplyDelete
I also agree about the pairing off--I had sort of hoped that that the Asha/Rhys thing wouldn't also happen, only because it seemed to be too much at that point. But it didn't take away from my enjoyment too much, so I guess it worked out, haha.
I wondered the same thing about BeiTech being able to keep everything under wraps and some of the logistics that you mentioned... seems a slight stretch at times. AIDAN 'population control' was definitely one of those moments in a book that really make you think and was extremely chilling.
Last thing I'll add to this too long comment--I felt the same way about the deaths! I felt way less heartbroken at the end of this book than I expected, which was good, but also.. a bit of a letdown in a weird way?
Awesome review, and I'm glad you liked it! I thought this was a fantastic conclusion (though I'm a bit sad to leave this world!).
Yup. Totally agree, he just worked for me more here. And his ruminations on love and what it means to be "alive" or even "human" worked more for me, whereas in Illuminae it felt more like he was still kind to coming to terms with being self- aware, and he seemed, frankly, more kinda nutso??Delete
Same here w/ Asha/ Rhys- I felt the same way! Three couples?? But somehow it worked. :)
Population control was so chilling, the way the AI just did it. And yeah both BeiTech (I mean the resources they expended!!) and even the original mining operation- 18k people??- hard to believe that would escape notice!
And yes the deaths being reversed kinda cheapened it? I'm a little sad to leave this one too- thanks!
I really loved this book too. I especially loved how the book showed the human emotions on both sides of the war.ReplyDelete
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Yes! One of my favorite parts- and made for a deep story!!Delete
So glad you loved this! I read the first one and it was definitely interesting! I might have to continue now that I know this one was so good too.ReplyDelete
It was good, and honestly the second and third books were way better for me than Illuminae. Gemina is my favorite!Delete
I should not read those spoilers issues but I had too and kept on noddingReplyDelete
I am reading this now and having a hard time staying connected, I don’t know why. I like it but I haven’t gotten sucked in. Hoping to finsih it finally in the next couple of days.ReplyDelete
I've got to get back to the first book. I started it and then put it down for some reason. I did skip the spoiliers! Thanks for the heads up.ReplyDelete
Thanks for labeling the spoilers section, because it helped me avoid it. I plan to read Obsidio this weekend. I am so happy to hear you said it was a solid finale filled with my favorite thing - feels.ReplyDelete
Yes, this totally rocked! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I agree that having a third couple share the page time made this a bit disjointed and hectic, which is why it didn't quite reach the heights of Gemina for me, but yes it was an awesome book!ReplyDelete
~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum
Ugh, as you know, I have all the mixed feelings here. I liked most of it! And you made a great point about the soldiers, even in their most awful moments, still being made to feel human. That is the kind of thing I loved about this series in general. But... the ending, it really sucked some of the oomph out for me in general. I don't do well with meh endings, and for me, this really was one. And I didn't get a *ton* of emotion with this one, and I am not sure why? Still overall a great series and worth reading!ReplyDelete
I had to scroll past the spoilers, but I am absolutely excited for this book! I got my copy already and I will be listening and READING it at the same time!ReplyDelete
Is the book written in the same format as the first two? I haven't read the first two books, I'm not sure I could get past the format and it's sci-fi, not one of my favorites. Everyone seems to love this series. Great review Greg, glad to see it rocked for you.ReplyDelete
I feel like the only one who hasn't read the Illuminae series. Mmwwaaaa!!!ReplyDelete
I skipped over your spoiler bit there - just about to start this for myself - but great review! :DReplyDelete
I just quickly skimmed since I haven't read Obsidio yet but based on your review, I think I'm going to love it!ReplyDelete
That's awesome! I had to skip the spoiler half since I haven't started this series yet. I've been wanting to read these since the reviews have been so good. I'm definitely going to have to now since the entire series was great.ReplyDelete
Sorry the (new?) couple wasn't very developed, but it sounds like this book was thought-provoking in multiple ways! What with the AI having feelings, the two-sides perspectives, the war. Glad you liked it so much!ReplyDelete
I only skimmed through the spoilers section because I'm yet to even start this series, but oh, it sounds amazing! Every review I come across makes me want to get started on this series and yours is no exception. Glad you loved it so much!!ReplyDelete
Yes, I think you captured the essence of this one in both non-spoiler/spoiler thoughts. I never did the math, but you're so right about the death count being way to high to be swept under the rug for real. When they do those pages in the book with all the little photos making up the one larger picture to express the mass deaths I get all teary eyed.ReplyDelete
Great review, Greg!