Book Review: The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

the obsidian blade cover

View from the window seat:
Thirteen-year-old Tucker Feye hears his father, the Reverend Feye, scream while fixing a roof shingle and runs outside to find him gone. An hour later, his father returns looking older and with a girl named Lahlia. After this strange event, Tucker watches his family change as his father becomes even more withdrawn and his mother falls into madness. When his parents disappear, Tucker is placed in the care of his uncle Kosh. Tucker becomes convinced that the shimmery disks he sees everywhere, including one on his roof where his father disappeared the first time, have something to do with his missing family. When he finally gets sucked into one, he starts a time-traveling journey that alters his past and future as well as the future of his hometown.

I loved this book. It’s great science fiction, with clean, direct prose that’s always so enjoyable to read. The story centers around these disks, or diskos, created by a Klaatu artist named Iyl Rayn for the Klaatu (discorporeal beings) to go back in time and observe significant moments of history for entertainment. I loved that this premise was so believable. It makes so much sense that in a future where physical bodies are no longer necessary, people would use the gruesome parts of history as entertainment. It oddly reminded me of The Hunger Games in that terrible events are seen as spectacles.

At the same time (and really at the heart of the book), this is the story of a boy trying to save his family. Tucker chooses to jump into a disko, not knowing where or when he’ll end up, for the sole purpose of finding his parents and bringing them home. Much of the beginning of the book is used to set up Tucker and his relationship with his parents. While a long introduction can be frustrating in some books, I think it really works here. The Obsidian Blade is clearly the first book in a trilogy. Tucker’s introduction, and the events after he jumps through the disko, are setting up the larger plot of the series.

Surprisingly, religion plays a significant role in this science fiction story. It’s really interesting to see how going through the diskos affects both Tucker’s and his father’s personal faith. There’s a great contrast, and the changes that both Tucker and his father undergo drive the events of the book.

I didn’t react very strongly to Tucker as the protagonist. He’s ok, rather than oh-my-god-I-love-him. The two characters who really stood out for me are Lahlia and Kosh. Lahlia clearly has an amazing backstory and I really hope this is explored in the next book(s). Kosh is so lovable; he also has a backstory I’m hoping to get more of later on.

Overall impression:
With compelling characters, terrifying and amazing settings, and an action-packed plot, The Obsidian Blade is a must-read science fiction story.

Rating:
8

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