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I Belong

Early Review: The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

Title: The Obsidian Blade

Author: Pete Hautman

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: The Klaatu Diskos (Book 1)

Publication Date: April 10, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 763654035 (Candlewick Press)

ISBN-13:  978-0763654030 (Candlewick Press)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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.

Kicking off a riveting sci-fi trilogy, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman plunges us into a world where time is a tool — and the question is, who will control it?

Quick & Dirty: Good science fiction from a male narrator, but at points the time travel and technology were confusing.  This short book is a good beginning to an action-packed series.

Opening Sentence: During the latter years of the Postdigital Age, discorporeal Klaatu artist Iyl Rayn attempted to enhance her status within the Cluster by conceiving an unconventional entertainment.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

The Obsidian Blade is going to be hard to summarize, if only because Tucker isn’t sure what’s going on while it’s happening and I don’t want to spoil it for y’all! In the beginning Tucker is trying to make a catapult that will launch his father’s hideous troll carving.  Our would-be engineer is successful, but ends up knocking a shingle off the roof in the attempt.  When his father goes up to fix it, he disappears. One moment he’s there. The next, mid-yell, he’s disappeared.  Tucker’s mom doesn’t believe he saw a fuzzy disk hanging over the house and soon the Reverend comes back, accompanied by a girl who doesn’t speak.

Lahlia lives with them as they wait for someone from the Reverend’s congregation to adopt her.  Tucker gets used to her and her kitten Bounce following him around.  But she’s quickly adopted to a farm on the other side of town and that seems to be the end of that.  With his return the Reverend has changed.  He doesn’t believe in God, a belief that to this point had defined his life. So Tucker’s mother, Emma, studies the Bible alone, his father sits in his study alone, and Tucker is left alone.  As the summer progresses, Emma becomes obsessed with puzzles.  She fixates on things and sometimes never changes out of her pajamas.  Her ability to communicate deteriorates.  None of the doctors can help her.

Then one evening Tucker goes out with his friends and returns to find his parents gone. They’ve gone to a hospital–one he can’t go to–and Uncle Curtis will come and take care of him.  Until this point, the disks have been an anomaly.  Popping up when Tucker is on an adventure, but no one else can seem too see them.  It isn’t until Curtis, or rather Kosh, takes Tucker home with him that we start to get a grip on the bigger picture. The disks were built by the Klaatu.  Basically ghosts that thrive on drama, these disks are their way providing entertainment. They pop up at significant events in time, though not necessarily at the moment that significant event will be occurring.

While Tucker tries to unravel the mysteries of the disks, he’s also trying to find his parents. He knows the Reverend took his mom into a disk and he’s determined to find her.  But the web of these portals is stretched across time and while Tucker searches for his parents and a way home, there are people out there looking for Tucker.

Hautman has written a really engaging male narrator, which is not an easy thing to do when you’re showing a character changing over a span of time.  Tucker ages in this book and goes through a number of trials that test his strengths.  He’s smart enough to piece together pieces of what’s going on, but he doesn’t know everything.  When the reader makes a connection before Tucker manages too, we have some great pages filled with tension.

My biggest critique with this book is that it didn’t have an ending.  It’s the first in the series, so it’s understandable, but I don’t think it’s acceptable.  It wasn’t a cliff hanger or anything like that.  The end of the book simply read like the end of a chapter, making it unsatisfying. Besides that it was an engaging, fast book to read with an awesome and haunting cover!

Notable Scene:

“I’ll be damned,” the man said.

Tucker did not doubt it.

“You Tucker?” the man asked.

Tucker nodded.

The man scowled.  “You recognize me?”

Tucker shook his head.  The man looked like a younger, beefier, outlaw version of Tucker’s father, but he was sure he’d never seen him before.

“Are you Curtis?”

“Nobody’s called me that in years. Call me Kosh.”

Kosh? Tucker’s mom had called him Kosh that one time.

“But you’re my uncle Curtis, right?”

“That’s right, kid.  You sure you don’t recognize me?”  He walked toward Tucker, stopped about eight feet away, and peered at him closely.  “I must be nuts.  You look exactly like this kid I met one time.”  He took in the house, the garage, and the path down to the lake.  “The old homestead. I remember it being bigger.”  He looked back at Tucker.  “I suppose it’s too much to hope that your old man came back and saved me the trouble of looking after you.  I see his car’s here.”

“They didn’t take the car,” Tucker said. “I think they went to some hospital.”

The Klaatu Diskos Series:

1. The Obsidian Blade

FTC Advisory: Candlewick Press provided me with a copy of The Obsidian Blade.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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