I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but I do love a well-written book. Obscura, a book club pick by our biggest sci-fi member, was an absolutely excellent choice. It’s unusual for all 7 club members to be in agreement that we liked a particular book, but that was the case here.
The protagonist in Obscura is a female researcher, Dr. Gillian Ryan (I imagine she looks like Dr. Scully from The X Files), who is trying to develop a cure for a genetic and degenerative illness that already took her husband and is now harming her young daughter. She is the preeminent force in the field and has the best odds of coming up with a way to cure Losian’s disease or at least slow down its symptoms. As she gets closer to promising developments, her funding dries up and she is at a loss for options. That’s when her old college boyfriend knocks on her door with a tantalizing offer-come work with him on a NASA mission, and her research will be funded indefinitely.
Carson, the former boyfriend, tells Dr. Ryan that the astronauts that have traveled to the international space station have been experiencing symptoms that are similar to Losian’s, which is why NASA has such an interest in her research. After some hemming and hawing about the time away from her daughter, Dr. Ryan agrees to go with him on his mission (it’s also why we have a full book to read)… and that’s when things get weird.
Did I forget to mention that Dr. Ryan is a drug addict? Ok, so she’s addicted to hydrocodone, and that part of the book REALLY aggravated me at first before I realized it was a super important plot point. My favorite scenes involved Gillian’s research assistant, Birk, who is a gigantic and protective postgrad student, who is a very well developed character that I would love to meet someday.
I would write more about it but don’t want to give away the plot. To be honest, I didn’t expect to really like this book but it was superb… and also scary! The suspense is palpable and the pages turn easily. I finished it in two days, and it came into my thoughts for days after finishing it. The book was creepy, tense, and very well written. There were some parts that I wish were more fleshed out, but I enjoyed the various formats used for describing the action, such as audio transcripts and excerpts from official government reports. All in all, this was an excellent read and I recommend it to anyone looking for something different (and of course sci-fi fans!)