The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman
Series: Klaatu Diskos #1
Published by Candlewick Press on 4/10/2012
Genres: Science-Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: ARC, Publisher
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 Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman is a unique science-fiction/fantasy, one that I think is great for those who don’t normally dabble in the genre. It was entertaining and fun.
When Tucker’s father, the Reverend Feye, disappears one day, Tucker blames himself, sure that his father’s disappearance is his fault. Yet not an hour later, the Reverend appears walking down the road, looking worn and weary, with a young girl in tow. Tucker knows something isn’t right and that something has to do with the shimmering substance on the roof of his home.
I enjoyed The Obsidian Blade. In fact, I had a hard time putting it down. Hautman’s writing is delightful and his imagination knows no limits. This is a purely imaginative book that begins at an extremely fast pace. Hautman can build one world after the other; he can take us far into the future where societal norms are ridiculously changed and far back into the past to Jesus’ resurrection. Each turn of the page was akin to unwrapping a present, just to see what he would give us next.
His characters were hit-or-miss for me. I enjoyed the children very much and he wrote them well. I also liked his mother, father (pre-time-travel) and Kosh. But I had a hard time connecting with most of the “sci-fi” characters, like Awn and the acolytes. They didn’t feel real to me, even as part of the future.
Religion plays a large part in The Obsidian Blade
so don’t read it if that bothers you but you know what? If that bothers you, I challenge you to read it anyway, and get out of your comfort zone. I think I can safely say the larger theme in this story is religion, however it’s not preachy nor is it about one specific thing. At the same time, because it was so broad and undefined, it left me unsettled. I wasn’t sure what the author was trying to tell me. Was his message to not lose your religion? Or God? I wasn’t sure.
That question also leads me to, the plot was a little hard to follow. It’s sort of intense, because there is so much going on, and so many different times things happen. Taking notes or drawing a timeline would have helped me, I think. But who wants to do that! This book is also steeped in the world’s history, going back to Jesus, which at times, made me uncomfortable, to more recent history like Jimmy Hoffa (this detail bothered me; he was described as a Chicago labor organizer in the book, when in fact, he was head of the Detroit Teamsters. I can’t quite figure out if this detail was changed on purpose or is just an error in the book). This is a nit-picky detail, but the details, when wrong, trip me when I’m reading a book, especially if it’s a good book. I’m of the mind that if you’re going to use historical or pop-culture references, you absolutely need to get the details correct.
Overall, The Obsidian Blade is still a good book, and the ending was sinister enough to make me want the next in the series. If you are looking to get your feet wet in SFF, or you are a fan of the genre, pick this up and give it a try. And let me know what you think.
“Above them, on the cross, the dying man looked around with a wild-eyed expression of amazement and despair, as if he could not believe that he had come to this.
Tucker, cowering in the ravine, closed his eyes and began, silently, to weep.”
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