Series: The Illuminae Files #3
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.
With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.
*warning: this is a spoiler-filled review*
This book absolutely destroyed me.
When I first read Illuminae, I was taken completely by surprise by how much I loved it (and even more so by how much I liked an artificial intelligence system). The story was fast-paced and epic and told in such a unique way and I loved literally everything about it. I fell in love with Kady and Ezra and their story and became completely invested in their mission. With Gemina, the scope of the story was drastically expanded, I grew to seriously care for two more sassy teenagers, and also began to truly realize my love for AIDAN. Obsidio took all the love I had for this series and brought it to a whole new level.
The New POVS
The story starts off following the two new povs that are introduced in this book, BeiTech’s tech-expert Rhys Lindstrom, and Kerenza civilian Asha Grant, Kady’s cousin. Rhys has just been assigned to the planet after seven months of working in orbit on BeiTech’s jump station, and Asha is trying to get by each day while secretly plotting with Kerenza’s resistance. Little does she know her ex-boyfriend is about to pay her a visit, and he’s with the people trying to wipe her out from existence.
I’ll admit: at first, all I wanted was to skip past what was going on with these new characters and find out if my faves were okay. But over the course of the story, I did grow to be a little more invested in Asha and Rhys’ storylines, though it definitely didn’t reach the point that Kady&Ezra and Nik&Hanna’s stories did. It’s not that I didn’t like them, but I was already so attached to the other characters that I wasn’t looking to start caring about anyone else.
What I will say about Asha and Rhys’ povs though is that through them, the horrors and atrocities committed by BeiTech were really brought to light in a kind of revelatory way. Up until this book, we could only assume how the survivors of the initial attack on Kerenza were being treated. But now we got to see just how awful and horrific the crimes being committed there were. A lot of this book was so heavy, and the weight of it sunk down on me at times. We knew that what was happening was a genocide, but this book allowed to us to see what that really meant.
A New Perspective Through BeiTech
“This is a war!” Oshiro roars. “‘Right’ is decided by the people who win.”
What I found interesting was how Amie and Jay then introduced Rhys’ squad of soldiers. They were BeiTech—they were supposed to be these objectively monstrous people, but really they were just…people. They weren’t the all the monsters we wanted to immediately paint them as. They were stuck in an awful position, following orders. This in no way excused their actions, but it created a little more perspective that made me think a little bit more, especially because I actually wound up liking some of the people in Rhys’s squad.
Another reason I didn’t mind Asha and Rhys’ povs was because of how flawlessly Amie and Jay blended together all the storylines. There were so many pieces to this series as a whole and they just wrote it so seamlessly and kept it high-stakes and fast-paced the entire time. I also loved how we got to see the files begin to be compiled by Kady and AIDAN and Ella, and how Nik was assigned to do the voiceovers (I kind of guessed it was him, but I couldn’t figure out who the second one was). It’s going to be a lot of fun rereading the series knowing it’s him transcribing the audio.
“I am not good.
Nor am I evil.
I am no hero.
Nor am I villain.”
Above all, my favorite aspect of this book—and the whole series—is AIDAN. I honestly don’t understand how I’ve come to care SO MUCH for a character that’s not even alive, or who maybe is alive in
his its own way. But it happened, and has caused me so much emotional turmoil and heartache and all these things I didn’t know were possible to feel for a machine..or er, artificial intelligence system.
“It is entirely possible to be alone in a crowded room. Your solitude only compounded by the faces around you. The presence of others serving only to remind you of how lonely you are.”
When we first met AIDAN, he was a crazy AI with twisted logic and slightly psychopathic tendencies. Of course I loved him from the beginning (though there were a few rough patches, i.e. posing as Ezra then telling Kady he was dead) but that love was more of a dark fascination rather than an actual emotional attachment. I loved what
he it added to the story and drank in the harsh, logical perspective it added to everything going on. I didn’t even realize how much I loved it until I got to his its first page in Gemina and literally squealed with joy.
I feel like with each book, we got a little bit more of AIDAN in terms of its ‘personality’ and now in Obsidio it’s finally completely fleshed out. I loved
his its attempts at humor (like when it almost killed Nik, lol) and how snarky it can be—there were a lot of moments where I actually laughed out loud.
“McCall, Winifred: Is that what you think I should do?
AIDAN: That depends upon how appealing you find the thought of suicide.”
AIDAN also becomes more aware of the human factor of what he’s doing instead of just processing the logical one, which goes hand in hand with his ‘personality’ growth. He sees himself as the ‘monster’ of the story because he realizes what he does is, indeed, monstrous, and is even sorrowful about it, but he also deems what he does as necessary for the fleet’s survival.
“Every story needs its monster.
And the monster is me.”
I also LOVED the relationship Kady and AIDAN formed and how protective AIDAN is of Kady. Something about the bond they shared was so precious and special and I couldn’t get enough of it. One of the most emotional scenes was after AIDAN had killed those 2,000 people and Kady was shutting him down, and he was saying how he was scared to die and that he loved her, and he was telling her not to leave him. I was bawling. AIDAN’s character underwent so much growth, yet he still couldn’t overcome his programming to protect the fleet, even when he knew what he did would hurt Kady, even when he knew she would shut him down. And he was doing it all to protect her.
Reading the last hundred or so pages of this book was one of the most stressful experiences of my bookish life. Also one of the most tear-inducing. I should really know by now that the first time someone dies, they’re never actually dead. I doubt I’ll ever learn that lesson. There was SO MUCH going on all at once and my poor heart couldn’t handle it.
I was really just scared for Ezra and Nik the whole time since they were together in the Chimera. If the ship was shot, they were both dead, and I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. And then the ship was shot. I’ll be honest—I was mainly thinking about Ezra throughout it all, and Nik, as much as I loved him, was more of an afterthought. I was crying so hard I could barely keep reading through my tears, especially when it cuts to Kady seeing the notification that Ez was shot down. And on top of all that, AIDAN DECIDES TO BLOW HIMSELF UP TO SAVE THE FLEET. The conversation between him it and Kady right before AIDAN sacrifices itself had me crying so hard I could barely read the pages in front of me.
BUT THEN, there’s Nik and his parachute…incorrigible Nik who insisted on wearing the parachute even though they were fighting in space. So then my tears turned to ones of joy and relief at the fact they were both still alive. And then flash forward to the trial, where THEY ARE ALL THERE AND ALIVE (minus AIDAN) including all the survivors there to see Frobisher brought to justice. It was such a satisfying moment, and it was so sweet getting to see the Illuminae Group all together and alive at Vitaly’s.
And then AIDAN is back, self-repaired but only a ghost of what he once was, watching the crew from afar. I was sad about how he chooses to stay out of their (specifically Kady’s) lives, but I also understand that it couldn’t really be any other way for him. That being said, I also would’ve loved if he could have been with Kady secretly through a palm-pad or something, but I am content in just choosing to believe that he knew Kady was about to tell him she loved him before he sacrificed himself.
“I know I love her.
I know I miss her.
I know very little else.”
To me, The Illuminae Files became so much more than words on a page, and it’s very rare to come across a story that imprints so profoundly on your brain. These characters became so real to me and I was so invested in their story that when I was reading, everything else fell away. The scale of this story was so large that it was impossible for me not to get invested. This is an incredible series and it ended with such an epic, heartbreaking, heart-stopping finale. It’s books like these that remind me why I love to read.
This was a very long/rambly review so thank you for reading! Did you love The Illuminae Files as much as I did? What were your thoughts on AIDAN and the ending? Let me know in the comments!