Book Reviews

Obscura Burning by Suzanne van Rooyen at Etopia Press

Genre Science Fiction / Young Adult / Bisexual Fiction
Reviewed by Jamie Deacon on 13-July-2013

Book Blurb

The world's going to end in fire…and it's all Kyle's fault.

Kyle Wolfe's world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle's two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle's friends aren't all that dead anymore.

Each time Kyle goes to sleep, he awakens to two different realities. In one, his boyfriend Danny is still alive, but Shira is dead. In the other, it's Shira who's alive...and now they're friends with benefits. Shifting between realities is slowly killing him, and he's not the only one dying. The world is dying with him. He's pretty sure Obscura has something to do with it, but with his parents' marriage imploding and realities shifting each time he closes his eyes, Kyle has problems enough without being the one in charge of saving the world...

Book Review

This is without doubt one of the most original novels I’ve come across in a while. It’s a story about a mysterious planet that drifts into our solar system to play havoc with time itself, and one boy’s struggle to cope when he is plunged into a world of multiple realities. Admittedly, readers have their hands full with regard to remembering the details of each reality—who the hero’s friends are, whether his parents are together or divorcing etc… Yet, the author’s way of beginning each chapter with either “Danny’s dead” or “Shira’s dead” not only helped me keep track of the plot, but was a strategy I found incredibly powerful.

Weeks before he is due to graduate high school, Kyle’s life doesn’t just fall apart; it goes up in flames and splits in two. Worse still, he has only a vague memory of how it happened. He remembers rowing with his boyfriend Danny, then cheating on him with their female friend Shira. He remembers the three of them heading out to Ghost Town later that night, recalls them all becoming drunk, and the screams of his friends as the barn caught alight. Beyond that, there’s nothing. All he knows is that somehow the barn was set ablaze and both Danny and Shira are dead…or are they?

On the same night as the fire, a strange planet scientists are calling Obscura appeared in the sky. Some fear its arrival spells the end of the world. Kyle’s main concern is that, ever since it showed up, he has been living parallel lives. In one reality, his boyfriend is still alive, though paralyzed, and Kyle is unscathed. In the other, Shira is alive, while Kyle is horribly scarred, and they are friends with benefits. But this can’t go on indefinitely. The constant shifting is slowly killing him, and Kyle can think of just one way to put things right and possibly save the world—return to the scene of the tragedy and confront the truth behind the events of that fateful night.

Obscura Burning has a fascinating premise and a protagonist who is equally intriguing. I may not always have liked how Kyle behaved, but, for the most part, it was impossible not to sympathize with him. What most appealed to me, however, was the uncertainty as to how much of what occurs during the course of the story is real. Has a mysterious planet really opened a rift in the universe, or are the alternate realities merely a figment of Kyle's imagination, brought on by the trauma of the fire? If you enjoy young adult Sci-Fi with a disturbingly realistic feel, I urge you to pick up this novel and decide for yourself.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 66249 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 07-December-2012
Price $4.99
Buy Link