Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
Publication.Date  April 10th 2012
Published By:  Candlewick Press | 
WebsitePete Hautman | 

The Obsidian Blade - Goodreads
My review copy:A copy of the book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

Kicking off a riveting sci-fi trilogy, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman plunges us into a world where time is a tool — and the question is, who will control it?

The first time his father disappeared, Tucker Feye had just turned thirteen. The Reverend Feye simply climbed on the roof to fix a shingle, let out a scream, and vanished — only to walk up the driveway an hour later, looking older and worn, with a strange girl named Lahlia in tow. In the months that followed, Tucker watched his father grow distant and his once loving mother slide into madness. But then both of his parents disappear. Now in the care of his wild Uncle Kosh, Tucker begins to suspect that the disks of shimmering air he keeps seeing — one right on top of the roof — hold the answer to restoring his family. And when he dares to step into one, he’s launched on a time-twisting journey
— from a small Midwestern town to a futuristic hospital run by digitally augmented healers, from the death of an ancient prophet to a forest at the end of time. Inevitably, Tucker’s actions alter the past and future, changing his world forever.

The first time his father disappeared, Tucker Feye had only just turned thirteen.
"There will be no more praying in this house." He gave them a few seconds to absorb that, then said, "It's all lies."
It was several months before he realized that his mother was loosing her mind. 

     Books that engage both your mind and your heart, make you question the real world, and inspire you to ponder the meaning of life, freedom, destiny and faith are many. Not many of them, however, are done right, and even fewer have the power to literally blow your mind to pieces. The Obsidian Blade is one of the best, most intriguing reality bending books I had the pleasure of reading, and not just in YA genre, but in literature in general. 

     I loved the concept behind this book. Time travel and alternative realities mixed in with a thought-provoking examination of religion and its impact on the history of human kind, and a deeply affecting family drama - all that (and more!) makes for a compulsively readable story, and one that I sure had a hard time putting down. The Obsidian Blade has everything a great science fiction novel should have: a well-realized, fascinating world, convincing characters, intriguing ideas, an exciting plot, and themes that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. It's intensely captivating, often moving, and at times even heartwarmingly funny (especially Tucker's conversations with his wild Uncle Kosh). The concept of Klaatu discos is not only interesting and unique, it is also exceptionally well-developed and well-explained, complete with information about their origin and history. I especially appreciated the encyclopedia-like commentary at the beginning of each part of the book that provided valuable info about the discos and their creators, the Klaatu. These brief notes were insightful and in my opinion quite essential to fully understanding the plot. 

     As much as I loved the science fiction aspect of this book, what I loved the most about it was the heartfelt, emotionally engaging storyline. The lead character, Tucker, was amazing and I quickly warmed up to him. He is a sweet, clever and brave boy, who - faced with an impossibly difficult family situation - tries his best to do the right thing. When his father, reverend Adrian Feye, magically disappears from the rooftop of their house, and then comes walking up the driveway an hour later, accompanied by a weird-looking girl, Tucker's world begins to change. It starts with his father announcing that he no longer has faith in God, followed by his mother's increasingly weird behaviour. Emily, Tucker's mom, slowly sinks into her private world of ghosts and obsessive-compulsive behaviour (polishing silverware over and over again, flipping light switches on and off, etc..). She becomes more withdrawn and disconnected from reality with every passing day, and no one - not even the family doctor - knows what's causing her sudden mental breakdown. When one day both his parents disappear, Tucker is shipped off to live with his uncle, Kosh. It's there that he begins to suspect that their sudden disappearance must have had something to do with the shimmering disk he spotted right above the rooftop of his home. And when he finally gathers the courage to step into it, he finds himself in the middle of a crazy time-travelling adventure that will take him to places he never even imagined existed, launched on a dangerous adventure that will change his life - and the history of the entire human kind - forever.

     Lahlia (the girl brought brought home by Tucker's dad) is a very mysterious character and, though we don't see a whole lot of her in the first book, whenever she's present something interesting/dangerous happens. She's a wild and unpredictable creature, and she seems to know a lot about the Klaatu and their discos. I liked her sassy nature, though sometimes she appeared to be rather uninterested in other people's affairs. I'm looking forward to learning more about her and the role she has to play in this story. 

     Now, I'm not big on comparing authors and books, but to me Pete Hautman's novel is like a curious mix of Stephen King and Robert Sawyer, for teens and adults alike. The Obsidian Blade is a fantastic piece of speculative fiction, packed to the brinks with exciting adventures, complex (often provocative) theories, and mind-blowing plot twists. It's also deliciously dark and atmospheric. Hautman's writing style is quite straight-forward, occasionally humorous (in a dark, Stephen King-ish way), and attention-grabbing. Encompassing an array of thoughts and ideas that are bound to resonate with its readers, and re-examining important events in the history of humankind and their ripple effect on our lives, it's a thoughtful, elaborate and absolutely unforgettable story. And most definitely one of my top favourite reads this year.

     I can't wait for the next book in the Klaatu Discos series. If you like your books intelligent, stimulating and just a tiny little bit provocative - this is the book for you. And if you prefer your characters real, flawed, and achingly human (as opposed to the invincible macho-hero stereotype) - this is the novel you should be reading next. Make sure to check it out!

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


P.E. said...

Awesome review. You make me want to read this book so bad! I want a book that blows my mind to pieces :) I also like that it seems pretty dark and the writing sounds like it's good.

aparajita said...

Great review..

Itching to read this book now.

Le' Grande Codex

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I remember seeing this book on Netgalley and it sounded really interesting, but I wasn't absolutely sure. Now I really want to read it. Great review, this sounds amazing!

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

You're making me wish I had had time to read this when it was on NetGalley! It looked great, and I love sci-fi/time travel stuff. I especially gotta love that you compared it in some ways to SK. I'm a HUGE fan of his as you know. I will have to keep an eye out for this one - it sounds like an extremely amazing story, with the sci-fi elements, and the whole heart-tugging family story.

Danny said...

OoOo Great! I totally skipped this one, didn't actually gave it another glance! Aparentally I missed out on something? How old is the protagonist? It sounds a little more like MG to me?

Amanda @ Letters Inside Out said...

So happy to hear this one is wonderful! I somehow won a copy and it arrived in the mail today. I wasn't sure if it'd be for me or not. I'll have to give it a try!

Thanks for your review. :)

Silverlight said...

Whoa!! Your making me want to drop everything I'm reading, just to pick this one up! Outstanding review!

Amy said...

I love books about time travel. This sounds really fantastic. The characters seem really great. Fabulous review!!

M.A.D. said...

LOVE that cover! :D

Alexandra Lindé said...

The cover is just amazing and thrilling:)

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