Thursday, July 4, 2013

Obscura Burning by Suzanne Van Rooyen (Review)

Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, LGBT
Publication.Date  December 7th 2012
Published By:  Etopia Press
WebsiteSuzanne Van Rooyen 

Obscura Burning on Goodreads
My review copy:Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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The world's going to end in fire...and it's all Kyle's fault. 

Kyle Wolfe's world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle's two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle's friends aren't all that dead anymore. Each time Kyle goes to sleep, he awakens to two different realities. In one, his boyfriend Danny is still alive, but Shira is dead. In the other, it's Shira who's alive...and now they're friends with benefits. Shifting between realities is slowly killing him, and he's not the only one dying. The world is dying with him. He's pretty sure Obscura has something to do with it, but with his parents' marriage imploding and realities shifting each time he closes his eyes, Kyle has problems enough without being the one in charge of saving the world...

She's going through hell? As if me getting burned was a walk in goddamn Armadillo Park. Hell is getting beaten up by your dad every night because your mom works the night shift. Hell is feeling less of a human being for liking boys. Hell is being suffocated by the guilt of cheating on someone you love. Hell is a second- and third-degree burns, new dressings, needles and nurses, morhpine, and a split fucking reality that makes you wish you were dead. That's hell for you, Mom. But I bite back my words and swallow the vitriol burning on my tongue.
I used to be cute, with matching dimples. Danny loved them; he'd tell me the crappiest jokes just to make me smile, and in the other life, he still does. In this reality, my smile makes children cry.
By the way, Dan. I live half of the time in this other reality. You're dead and I'm fucking Shira. Just thought you should know.

     Obscura Burning is both moving and intellectually stimulating. A fantastic, thought-provoking and mind-boggling story, executed with skill and honesty! Suzanne Van Rooyen swiftly guides the reader through the fractured narrative of her book, gradually building up tension and suspense to a dizzying crescendo ending. An unforgettable ending that will leave you breathless and thinking about it - examining all the possible explanations and trying to understand what really happened - for a very long time. I am still reeling from it. As much as I'd like to tell you that I managed to figure it all out, I'm still not sure what exactly went down in this book, and that's precisely what makes me love it so much!

     Everything started with a fire that our MC, Kyle, can't even remember. His memory is in shreds and he doesn't know what caused the fire, or anything else that happened shortly after it broke out. All he knows is that his life and the entire world changed that night. A planet about the size of Mercury appeared out of nowhere and took up residence between Earth and Mars. And that mysterious planet - Obscura - has been messing things up ever since, causing weird things to happen. Since that night, Kyle's been jolted between two parallel realities, living two different lives - one in which his boyfriend Danny is alive and their best friend, Shira, is dead, and the other in which it is Shira who survived, and Danny who died in the fire. Kyle's world is crumbling to pieces. The shifts between realities are slowly killing him and he knows that he has to do something to stop Obscura from destroying his life, his sanity and the entire world. 

     I fell in love with Obsura Burning right from the get-go. The intriguing premise along with Suzanne's raw and affecting writing style had me hooked in an instant. I loved the idea behind this story and the more I read, the more intrigued and bewildered I became. Maybe even obsessed (a tiny little bit). The complexity of the plot didn't show itself in its full glory until the final passages, but even before the jaw-dropping climax I knew this was going to be a total killer! And I was right. 

     If you enjoy books that are messing with your head, there is no doubt in my mind that you will love Obscura Burning. It's a prime example of mental gymnastics. At the same time, it's also so much more than just an incredibly well-thought-out science fiction novel. It's a meaningful and profound tale of love, friendship, trust and betrayal, guilt, denial and redemption. Kyle is one incredibly complex and tragic character, and my heart ached for him. He's strong, yet so fragile and sensitive. All broken up inside, and yet so full of hope and love. He is vulnerable and sad, but he can be scary, too. Such a great, beautifully fleshed out MC! I absolutely loved following his story, as heartbreaking as it was. 

     I'm thrilled to have discovered this book. It was such an intense and memorable read, I will definitely be going back to it many times. I am also looking forward to Suzanne's upcoming books - she is definitely an author whose carrier I will be following closely!

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