Sunday, March 31, 2013

Obscura burning

Suzanne Van Rooyen
Etopia press, 2012 (a review copy was gently provided to me by Etopia press)
Size: Short (my paperback copy has 296 pages)
Theme: Multiple realities
Narrative: first-person
Main character: Kyle Wolfe’s
Recommended minimum age: Young adult
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

The premise of the story is quite straightforward: Kyle Wolfe wakes up every day on a different of two alternative realities. In each of them, after a recent traumatizing event, one of his two best friends is dead, while the other survived. The shift between the two realities is taking its toll on Kyle, not only psychologically, but also physically. And a new planet – Obscura – that just suddenly appeared in the Earth sky appears to be contributing to this phenomenon. While the plot basis is not novel, the way the story is told is quite interesting, including the differences between Kyle in each reality, which entirely affects his life in that reality.

This is labeled as YA (Young Adult) sci-fi, and the story revolves around the love triangle of the 3 main characters. Kyle is Danny’s boyfriend in one reality and Shira’s lover in the other. The plot follows Kyle as he struggles to keep alive in both realities and to find out what happened, and whether he can do anything to change his own fate. The book’s sci-fi content is exclusively Kyle’s reality shifting and mind-warping experiences.

The story is easy to follow (multiple realities are occasionally tough to keep a track of, but with only a few, this is easily managed), and well-paced. The plot develops fairly linearly, but with sufficient mystery to keep you interested. Luckily, the story does not dwindle purely into sex, and has drama and crime in the mix. I greatly enjoyed reading through it (I read it during an intercontinental flight), and found it a good break from my more typical hard science reads.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

As Obscura reaches its closest point to Earth, tension mounts and stress heightens. Suspecting he will die (or something similar) at the apex, Kyle finally finds himself in a new reality, which he assumes as the actual “real” one. He finally remembers how he himself set the fire deliberately and locked his two friends in the barn, after having seen them having sex. However, the book ends with Kyle seeing Obscura still in the sky and shifting again, hoping to still be able to change the past…

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