Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

This is a title where the reviews have been sort of all over the place. A starred review from Booklist, a mostly positive from Kirkus and a rather confusing one from publisher’s weekly (I personally didn’t think the 9-11 segment was jaw-dropping or particularly daring. In fact, to be honest I found it odd that it was found to be an event of consequence on par with the crucifixion of Christ or the Holocaust, but I'm getting ahead of myself). Nevertheless, there was much to like in this book. There was much to be sort of bored with too.

So, yeah, there are some “events” in this book. It is essentially a time-travel book. There are special disks that are hidden in the town of Hopewell, the residence of one Tucker Feye, our main protagonist. These disks were created by an artist so far in the future that (s)he doesn’t even have a corporal form at the time of his/her life. The disks were an art project to remind those in the future of pivotal events in the past. Events such as listed above (again – 9-11? Not to be dismissive, but the scale of 9-11 is pretty small and concentrated when compared to the other historical events used).

Tucker becomes aware of the disks when his father inadvertently disappears through one after falling off the roof. After a while (and a several set-uppy-type-events that to this reader took more time than necessary to transpire) Tucker himself decides to go through a disk.

Here is my main complaint: There is far too much time dedicated to the set-up of this book. So much time is dedicated that it is hard to understand that there is actually a probable (and interesting) connection to what seem to at first be a random selection of historical events (well, I should point out that by the time the book ends only the crucifixion scene gets tied back in. The 9-11 scene could have been anything/anywhere at this point. It was important only because of an interaction that transpired there, but there could be more to it that isn’t revealed at this point).

Another more minor complaint: The made up future language of people like the Klaatu, awn, etc. The naming conventions didn’t seem well integrated into the story and seemed chosen for their futuristic sounds more than anything else.

The book literally ends with a bang. It was fantastic, heart-stopping awesome ending. I loved it. There was action, there was betrayal, there were villains…It was so good I wanted to know why it took so long to get to something at this level of excitement. If it had been this exciting for at least half the book I’d be chomping at the bit for the sequel. As it is now, I’m not sure the payoff was worth it for me. Which is a darned shame. I love Pete Hautman and I have a feeling this series is going to be really interesting come the next installment.

Book Source = Publisher Copy


joanna said...

Hautman is an author I am always curious to read. A time-traveling series? Huh. And maybe he used 9-11 because it is the most recent, large-scale world event that today's kids can connect directly?

Patti said...

I would think that is the case. But I still think it is weird to include that. If he was looking for something on the same/similar "scale" I would have picked Slavery.

Patti said...

Not that i'm trying to downplay 9-11, but it just isn't on the same level as the other events.