Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Monday, February 13, 2012
Title: Obsidian
Genre: young adult, science fiction
Series: Lux #1
Pages: 287 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: November 2011
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

I have heard quite a lot about this author in the year+ since I've begun bookblogging. She's one of the more widely-known indie authors and the books in her first series have thousands of ratings - surely a good sign right? In some ways, yes, there is a lot to like about Armentrout's science fiction young-adult tale. For one: it's science fiction instead of supernatural/paranormal. Some other readers and reviewers may label Obsidian/the Lux series as being of the supernatural persuasion, but for me <SPOILER, but it's in the blurb for the book> anything involving beings from another planet constitutes science fiction.</SPOILER> For the most part, this is a vert easy read and an enjoyable one too; if only I hadn't hated the male main character (Daeman) or his interactions with the girl main character (Katy), or if the first half wasn't completely devoid of any plot (seriously, there's only so much hot-guy-gazing and general jackassery I can take from one book) this would have been in the 4 - 4.5 range instead of a 3.

Katy is a medium protagonist. She certainly has her moments - like her attitude towards Daemon initially - but there was a bit of a disconnect for me as a reader. By all means, Katy should've been a real, easy-to-relate to type of character, but I never truly invested in her, or her relationships. She seems geared towards a specific audience: young, female, readers. A lot of recent novels, particularly in YA that I have noticed, feature  bookworms for a main character, and often that works well for both the book and the character. And sadly, sometimes it falls flat, as is the case here with Katy and her blog "Katy's Krazy Obsession." Instead of being the one thing about Katy's so-so personality that drew me most to her, the book-loving, book-reviewing aspect of her life just seemed counterfeit, only occasionally popping up to make readers identify with the MC's convoluted story. While I obsiously didn't love Katy, I did appreciate her "take no shit" attitude and strong opinions - this is not a character than can be accused of being a wallflower, despite how bland she may come off.

Katy's language is also fairly strong for a young-adult novel and for a teenager of her years. I personally don't mind a curse or two, as I have the mind and mouth of a sailor with Tourettes, but some readers will be bothered by the plethora that leave Katy's lips. Curse words and expletives don't bother Katy, so my advice to you if they bother you: this is not the book to read. Daemon, let's talk about Daemon. I liked him: he was intriguing, alluring, hot, mysterious - until he gets around Katy. Then he morphs into a giant douche - all to protect her/him etc. I hated this dynamic between the two. Hated, hated hated. They do have great chemistry - Armentrout can certainly create sexual tension and write a hell of a make-out scene - but I can't ignore Daemon's awful treatment of Katy. I mean, when it's more likely you're going to the woods to be murdered than be kissed ("Dee, I think the reason he stares at me is because he is planning on ways to kill me and hide the body."), I think that's a sign of a dysfunctional relationship.  Kids, chances are if the hot guy next door is being an ass to you, it's because he's a giant ass, not a super sekrit alien race hidden by the government' in our country. While their banter may have been occasionally amusing or snarky, Daemon's attitude should never be excused or rationalized by his looks.

Things I Did Like About Obsidian:
  • Katy and her mom have a normal, mostly healthy relationship (wonder of wonders)
  • Katy isn't a wallflower happy just to be noticed by anyone
  • the easy, breezy beautiful style of writing
  • Katy calling people on their bullshit
  • the flashes of genuine humor that had me giggling (Katy on medication was noteworthy, "There was no doubt in my mind that Daemon believed revenge was a dish best served in my face.")
  • incorporation of aliens/sci fi themes 
  • the chemistry of the characters

And now for the less fun portion of our review here this evening: my other issues with Obsidian. Why is the weakness of the bad guys, the "Arum", obsidian, a hardened glass found only here? What did Daemon and Company do to kill one before they came to Earth? There are some substances out in space that resemble the black glass, but would they work for a Luxen as a weapon? What is the plot of the first half of the book before the bad guys show up? It's easy and readable, but there is no forward momentum for one hundred pages. When it does finally appear, the plot is sadly fairly generic and  entirely predictable - the best thing going for Obsidian are the Luxen, the aliens and the readers curiosity about them. This is obviously a mixed-bag: some readers will love this, others will feel fairly "mehhh" about it (here!) and I can see, and understand, when readers will hate it. 

Armetrout has proved herself an author that is here to stay, with two multiple-book series ongoing currently. I am not sure at this point whether or not I personally will continue to read this series (or ever start her first), but Obsidian wasn't bad enough to be blacklisted. I just wish more had been original, in keeping with the idea of the Luxen, and less time spent on weaker elements of the story. Short story: fans of the author will be gratified, new readers will be possibly intrigued and detractors will find fodder to hate.

Another reason it might be worth checking this out if you're even mildly intrigued: this is a fairly cheap ebook at just $5.99

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