She's felt it before … the fear of losing control. And it's happening again.
In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She's already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. After losing her funding, she is given the unique opportunity to expand her research. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis—memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.
Crippled by a secret addiction and suffering from creeping paranoia, Gillian finds her journey becoming a nightmare as unexplainable and violent events plague the mission. With her grip weakening on reality, she starts to doubt her own innocence. And she's beginning to question so much more—like the true nature of the mission, the motivations of the crew, and every deadly new secret space has to offer.
Merging thrilling science-fiction adventure with mind-bending psychological suspense, Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart explores both the vast mysteries of outer space and the even darker unknown that lies within ourselves.
I can't remember when I started this, so I'll put the end-date down. I can remember that. I haven't got Losians. I started reading it, in the midst of a mega-slump, so it took awhile - to finish.
This would've been a solid five-star rating, if it wasn't for the epilogue, and one cast member, playing the role of Divine Intervention, causing that character to be decommissioned. Okay, I liked the epilogue - sort of - but if there's no sequel, then it's just going to wind-me-up - perpetually. I WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, NEXT. Need to know, what happens next.
Anyway. In the imminent future, a neurological disease, called Losian's - that anyone is susceptible to - has made an appearance. There's no known cure for the disease, but one person, Dr. Gillian Ryan (who has a Hydrodone addiction), is close to making a breakthrough. Unfortunately, her funding is going to be cut - which she learns about, via email. She lost her husband, Kent, to Losian's, and now her daughter, Carrie, is exhibiting signs of the ailment, too, which she calls: the fuzzies.
Someone, she has history with, Carson Lecroix, visits her at home - with a job offer, and, as part of the package, she'll receive, unlimited funding to do her research into Losians - but only if she accepts. He wants her to join him on the Discovery Six mission, to see if she can find out, what's wrong with certain crew members, as they're exhibiting signs of memory loss, anger, fugues, lapses in consciousness and hallucinations, etc. Could it be Losians?
The offer sounds good. The problem? She'll be doing it on the UNSS (United Nations Space Station), which is supposedly, orbiting, Earth, and will, ultimately - take her further away from her daughter.
She eventually, decides to visit Lecroix (after an incident at home, concerning her daughter), at NASA, and he shows her something on a tablet, which is hard to believe, and is central to the story, and has something to do with what's happening to some of the crew members on the UNSS. She watches the video, a few times, which is the first instance of...?
She agrees to join the Discovery Six mission, leaving her daughter with her sister. Her lab assistant, Birk, comes along for the ride. He doesn't fair too well, with space travel, The toilet can attest to that.
It's not long, before she realises, that she's been lied to. And she's not happy, about it - judging by her reaction, causing her to go mutinous. When she's supposed to go into stasis (sleep) - for two-and-a-half months, with the rest of the crew, she refuses, and ends-up doing her medical research (alone), instead.
This is where the fun begins: when the crew, wake from stasis. Something, isn't right. And what's behind the door, she can't access in medical-bay, I wonder? And what will happen, when she runs-out of Hydros? Her little pills.
In summation: I really enjoyed this one, despite the ridiculous amount of time it took me to read it. I liked the transcripts and audio-logs, that were interspersed, every so often. There were times, when I was feeling more paranoid and neurotic - then Gillian. There are a few, creepy scenes - and I never guessed, as to what was going on - which is good. I think. Hopefully, there'll be a sequel, someday - or, at the very least - a novella.
Obscura is a book about a successful doctor who's husband has died of a new type of dementia and whose young daughter is now dying of the disease too. The last years her research has focused on curing this disease and her work had drawn the attention of members of NASA, due to dementia like symptoms in space. On top of the doctor's grief about her husband and daughter, she deals with addiction, paranoia, dishonesty from those who want her help.
The book is told in chapters that bounce around in time. I found it an easy read and the timeline changes were easy for me to understand. I didn't want to put the book down and things became especially frightening once Gillian is in space. Add in hallucinations to her addiction and her quest to find out why people are lying to her, on top of being isolated while the other crew members are in status and the spaceship seems like closed in horror house. Things get even worse when she finds out they are going much farther from Earth than she was told they'd be going and she is accused of murder.
The only thing about the book that I didn't enjoy was the extremely graphic violence. I saw the reasons for the violence but I would have liked the book even better if the descriptions of the body damage had been toned down.
Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for this ARC
In Space No One Can Hear Y…. no wait, wrong book, wrong movie. Obscura will make you want to scream in space even if no one can hear you!
Joe Hart is well known in the Sci-Fi world for his amazing writing and horrifying books. Obscura takes that skill to a new level as Hart adds elements of Cli-Fi and thriller to the mix.
Obscura is a horrifying tale set in the not too distant future where a new form of dementia, which affects young and old alike, is plaguing the world. Dr. Gillian Ryan knows first hand the horrors of the disease having first lost her husband to Losians and now her daughter is symptomatic as well. Ryan has become the leading researcher into the disease but that research needs funding and lots of it. NASA promises unlimited funding if only she will travel to their “space station” to examine the residents for symptoms. This trip, however, is not what it appears – where would a thriller be without twists and turns? From the trip itself to the station and its inhabitants – nothing could prepare Ryan for what happens next.
Hart is a creative genius with this story and his skilled writing. Obscura is not at all your typical Sci-Fi drama, rather, Hart has creatively and cleverly combined several genres together to produce an amazing thriller that happens to be set in space. The characters, particularly the very flawed Dr. Ryan, are very well developed. Even the “bit characters” are well drawn. The plot, while fantastic, never strays into the unbelievable but stays on track and within the realm of scientific probability, although it is not too heavy on hard science. Obscura remains a thriller throughout and is, therefore, perfect for readers of both the sci-fi and thriller genres.
I read Obscura in a day from start to finish; I simply could not stop reading it. There was one surprise after another so that I had to know what was happening and how it would end. Even if you are not a sci-fi reader, I would encourage you to read this one. Hart is a very effective writer whose skills will draw you in and keep your attention from beginning to the satisfying, surprising conclusion.
You can find Obscura and other Joe Hart books at your local library.
In the near future a new disease has begun to spread which causes memory loss, hallucinations, and violence among it's victims. Dr. Gillian Ryan has already lost her husband to the disease and now it wants to claim her 8 year old daughter too. Gillian has been conducting research into the disease and is just on the brink of answers when suddenly she loses her funding. Then Gillian is approached by her former college boyfriend who works for NASA to investigate a space station where the members have all begun to show symptoms.
The paranoia and claustrophobia never let up. Not for them and certainly not for the reader.
I do not know how to classify this book. Sci-fi, thriller, mystery, and even a slight nod to horror. Joe Hart has written many a cringe worthy scene that left me shivering. This book reminded me a bit of The Deep by Nick Cutter except we trade the Mariana Trench for Mars.
Would I recommend this? Damn right I would.
Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer, and Joe Hart for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
In the not-too-distant future, mankind's plagued with a merciless killer. A disease. Its origin hiding within the deep recesses of the brain. The author awakened me to a horrific storyline that drove deep into the twisting vortex of space. Kept telling myself, "This can't be real." Awash in a hypnotic trance, the pages turned in quick succession as the print danced to a tune of its own making. There was no stopping it. The character-driven scenes consumed me with an aching fear. Dread. This well-written narrative took me on a tumultuous ride of emotion. Not soon to be forgotten.
An epidemic had struck terror within the world. The culprit, known as Losian's was a devastating type of dementia. Straight from the dungeons of hell, far worse than the ravages of Alzheimer's. Fast-acting and fatal in all cases. Indiscriminately choosing victims of all ages. An extremely poor prognosis for civilization. The human race was facing extinction. Evolution had finally met its match.
Highly regarded neural radiologist Dr. Gillian Ryan was lead researcher for mapping complex contours of the brain. In this case, detection of the elusive pathways of the devastating disease. Its conquest had taken her on a perilous journey into space. Not what she signed up for. Her main motivation rested with her stricken daughter. A cure would prevent a shortened life of agony. For both. At a space station nestled above Mars, she'd study infected subjects. Able to conduct tests not sanctioned on Earth. Humans instead of rats. Even at the blinding speed of 25,000 miles an hour, it would take many weeks to arrive at the final destination. Weeks filled with horror. Spellbound, I struggled through every twist and turn riddled with dire consequences that spelled doom from the start. The deck was stacked. Not in our favor.
My thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
Dr, Gillian Ryan lost her husband to the disease, and now her daughter is battling it too. A strange disease that takes away a person's memories, leaving them in a confused, fugue state. Losian's is a lot like Alzheimer's, but it can strike anyone, young or old. Ryan is working hard to study the disease and hopes to find a cure. But the powers-that-be don't believe it's a concern and feel her research is taking too long, producing too few results. Ryan is notified that her funding has been cut. Just as she is reeling from the loss of her support funds, NASA approaches her, offering full permanent funding if she commits to a six-month mission to investigate some problems on the international space station. When it's too late to back out, she discovers that it's an entirely different, and much more dangerous mission. Someone has a secret. Someone doesn't want this investigation. And some secrets are worth killing for.
I loved this book! The plot and suspense kept my attention the entire time! There are many stories about mysterious diseases and dangerous missions in space, but this book didn't fall into old tropes. The story is creative, thrilling and suspenseful! It would be so difficult to be on a dangerous mission in space and to not know who, if anyone, you can trust. Gillian Ryan is a flawed, but very intelligent and driven main character. Several times I was so mad about how she was being manipulated, but it just made the suspense and creepiness of the plot that much stronger. The story definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. Every time I thought I knew what was going on and what would happen next, the story zinged off in a direction I didn't anticipate. Awesome!! Just brilliant!
I listened to the audiobook version of this story. The audio is just over 10.5 hours long. Christina Traister narrates. She reads at a nice even pace with good inflection. I have hearing loss but was easily able to hear and understand the entire book.
Joe Hart is the author of several suspense/thriller novels including Singularity and Cruel World. I'm definitely going to be reading more by Hart!
**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
I love a good psychological thriller, I love a good dose of science fiction, I love a good mystery and I love great divisive characters. So to find them all under one magnificently readable roof was a pure joy for me.
Someone (I can’t remember who or I would credit them) described this as “Shutter Island in Space” and I can’t disagree with that assessment – Obscura follows Dr Gillian Ryan, as in an effort to find a cure for her daughter, she agrees to help out on a secretive mission – however she has been entirely deceived as to what this entails – so begins a completely mad adventure in space which is at turns thrilling, creepy as heck, thought provoking and just downright addictive. Which is strangely apt…
The story is so so good – descriptively speaking you feel every moment of this one. The tension, the claustrophobia, the isolation Gillian feels even from herself, it is all perfectly paced and beautifully written to absorb you into her world and the speculative future she resides in. There are thrilling moments, plenty of them too, alongside more considered themes, the author delves into the depths of human nature and it is a dark dark tunnel. There are also a lot heart breaking moments – the disease that takes away your memory and who you are – we know it, we have it in our lives, the horror and the sheer sadness of it is brought to vivid emotionally resonant life as Gillian fights her addiction and her feelings at leaving her daughter behind.
Surreal, intelligent and just a tiny bit crazy, this is one roller coaster ride of a novel that hits the right mark dead centre with every shot that it takes – then hits you again with one hell of an ending, I am hoping that there will be more to come, if not Joe Hart and I will be having words. Hmm.
After rereading this I had to raise my rating by one star. Somehow the first time I wasn't in the mood for this but still wanted to finish it. And during my reread I really enjoyed it (I actually listened to the audiobook and finished it in one day)! I loved the creepy vibes (some parts of the story were actually really scary), the story was unpredictable for most parts and the characters felt real. I'm glad I gave this another chance.
In the not too distant future a new form of dementia befalls people of all ages. Dr. Gillian Ryan already lost her husband to Losian's, and now her little daughter is seriously ill as well. Gillian is one of the leading experts in the field, but progress is slow, and her funding is running low. That's when NASA approaches her. Members of a top secret mission are experiencing symptoms similar to Losian's. NASA offers to fund Gillian's research if she agrees to go on a six month mission into space and helps them to find the cause of the astronaut's symptoms, which include partial memory loss and uncontrolled bursts of violence.
They have not told her all the details about their trip, though, and soon there are unexplainable things happening. Paranoia is creeping in. Is Gillian imagining things? Or is there someone aboard the ship that is trying to sabotage the mission?
The main character is addicted to painkillers, and as more and more strange things are happening, she's not sure anymore if she can trust her own mind. And neither is the reader.
In the beginning the book is a little slow, but at the same time the author creates a somber and ominous atmosphere that soon becomes a very unsettling type of suspense that completely sucked me into the tale.
The book made me think of the movies Moon and Solaris a lot, as the feeling of isolation combined with a lot of weird things that might be happening in the main character's head, or might be happening for real, create a very similar atmosphere. Later on, though, the pace picks up considerably and the pendulum swings towards action and terror. Of the very enjoyable kind.
The story also holds a lot of surprises of which I would like to name a few, but can't, for obvious reasons.
There are some interesting themes regarding our present and near future, and generally enough sci-fi elements to make this interesting for readers who are fond of the genre. But it's more a case of interesting ideas and concepts, and of course the setting, instead of lots of technical details. Things are mostly not explained in depth. But that's okay. The science-fiction is the set-up here, for what is ultimately a highly suspenseful psychological thriller.
I was happy with how the story developed, with how the pacing changed throughout the tale, happy with the characters, with the themes that are touched upon. I loved the atmosphere and even the ending. So why not five stars? I can't really tell. There was something missing for a full five stars. Something I can't really put my finger on. But I'm also not sure it really matters. I enjoyed this story immensely anyway.
4.5 stars, and recommended for fans of sci-fi thrillers and mystery. Or simply of psychological thrillers in general.
While I loved the concept behind the book, it didn't quite work for me as much as I had hoped that it would. A mother desperate to find a cure for a new form of dementia that has taken her husband and is threatening to take her only child as well. She gets the opportunity to go into space to help NASA with the implication she can further her studies for a cure and then be funded for life after her mission has been completed. How far would you go for your child? What happens when the mission isn't at all what you thought it was going to be?
One thing I've learned from reading some science fiction is that you do NOT want to go to Mars! 🤣 Seems bad shit always happens there. No matter where you go though, you can never escape your demons and anything can be an addiction.
It took me about 90 pages in before things got really interesting for me. It kept a steady pace from there and will work well for those who love a little sci-fi added into the mix of a thriller.
Combining elements from science fiction and thriller-suspense, Joe Hart brings us a gripping tale set in the not-too-distant future where a new form of dementia known as Losian’s Disease is sweeping across the globe, affecting both the old and the young. No one knows the cause, but as the widow and the mother of Losian sufferers, Dr. Gillian Ryan is determined to find a cure. She has already lost her husband, and she’s not about to lose her little girl too. But even as a leading researcher of the disease, Gillian has to show results to continue receiving funding, and unfortunately she has not been making much headway in her work. Desperate to keep her research going, she lets her old friend Carson talk her into taking part in a top-secret NASA mission to examine a space station crew that has been affected by symptoms similar to Losian’s, even if being in space will take her away from her daughter for six months. But if it will save her research and get her closer to finding a cure, Gillian convinces herself that it will be worth it.
However, her journey to space is plagued by problems from the start. Not only has Carson not been completely forthright with her on the details of the mission, there appears to be a saboteur on board, and it appears he or she will go to great lengths to damage NASA’s work—including resorting to murder. As the violence mounts, Gillian finds herself the main suspect as the evidence against her becomes more and more damning. She tries telling the others that she is being framed, that she is innocent—but after a while, even she is beginning to doubt herself. With all the lies and deception surrounding her, as well as the effects of withdrawal, isolation, and being far from home, it is difficult to be certain of anything anymore.
Mysteries set in space—especially those involving murder—always have a certain appeal to me. Usually these stories are set in a small confined area, emphasizing the loneliness and claustrophobic atmosphere. The number of suspects is often limited as well, but because of everyone’s close proximity, it always makes the tension feel much more present and urgent. Joe Hart uses these elements to great effect in Obscura, deftly evoking the feelings of terror and paranoia in his main protagonist. There’s nothing more disturbing than doubting your own sanity, and in this way, Gillian is pushed to the extremes at every turn.
Speaking of which, the characterization of Gillian is fantastic. Hart sets up her background perfectly, painting a picture of a grieving widow and loving mother who has already lost so much to Losian’s Disease. Finding a cure to save her daughter is the goal that drives her, and it’s also the only thing she would sacrifice everything for. She is also under a lot of stress, and has been secretly relying on heavy prescription drugs to get her through, ultimately becoming addicted. Being away from her little girl is bad enough, but when she finds out that she has been deceived—not once, but multiple times—to get her to agree to the mission, that is the last straw. I really felt for her character then, sympathizing with her anger, regret, and frustration. And then came the murder. Gillian might not always make the best decisions, but she feels genuinely like someone who is trying all she can to get out of a bad situation, especially when everyone seems to be against her. She’s terrified and uncertain of herself, but still she refuses to give up.
The plot also makes this novel a page-turner. Just when you think you have everything figured out, Hart throws a curve ball and the story takes a different turn. There are a lot of surprises not mentioned in the publisher description, and I had a great time discovering all of them. Let’s just say I was under the impression that Obscura was more of a straight-up thriller, and I was delighted when it turned out there are actually way more science fiction elements in this book than I thought.
My only criticism is that there might be too many ideas in this book, so that sometimes the plot felt a little fractured and disjointed. I can’t go into much detail without revealing spoilers, but there are a few concepts that aren’t explained very well, and plot points that aren’t as well developed. However, Obscura is still first and foremost a thriller and not a hard sci-fi novel, so in a way, this was to be expected. As long as these shortcomings didn’t affect the overall excitement and flow of the story, I didn’t really mind too much, and the good news is, no one can fault the book’s thriller and mystery aspects. The author did an excellent job of building up the suspense, and then capped it all off with a completely engrossing climax and conclusion.
All in all, Obscura is a fine example of an effective sci-fi thriller, hooking the reader with an intriguing premise. The wonderful characterization and swiftly-paced plot successfully pulled me in the rest of the way, the suspenseful atmosphere capturing my full attention and keeping me riveted, wondering what will happen next.
Dopo il successo della serie distopica The last girl, Joe Hart torna con un autoconclusivo di genere sci-fi, e potevo mai dirgli di no?
La dottoressa Gillian Flynn è l'unica considerata capace di curare una grave forma di demenza che tormenta il pianeta. Perciò verrà coinvolta in una missione della NASA e ben presto scoprirà che anche l'equipaggio con cui viaggia è stato colpito dalla stessa malattia che sta studiando. Circondata da perdite di memoria e impulsi violenti, Gillian scoprirà che qualcosa mi molto più oscuro sta accadendo...
Non sono un'esperta di scienza nè una grande lettrice di fantascienza ma questo libro mi è piaciuto molto. Porta con sè un po' dell'atmosfera di The martian, un po' di quella di The cloverfield padadox con un pizzichino di Interstellar.
La maggior parte del libro si svolge in solitudine e in introspezione ma la narrazione non pesa per nulla. Mi sono chiesta se Gillian stesse impazzendo, se ciò che stava vivendo fosse reale, ho sentito di conoscerla davvero e sono entrata in empatia con lei, ed è questo che provoca un buon protagonista.
Come se l'introspezione non fosse abbastanza, Hart gioca il tutto per tutto nella seconda parte del libro, che è tutta azione, misteri e indagini. Mi è piaciuta tanto anche quella, soprattutto la parte finale, perchè l'autore è bravo a scrivere scene adrenaliniche ed è stato come essere dentro a un film.
Leggere Obscura - per altro in un pomeriggio - è stata un'avventura. Prima solitaria, poi in compagnia, e così a susseguirsi. è stato un continuo domandarsi cosa stava per succedere e sono andata bella spedita perchè fondamentalmente volevo sapere tutto e subito! Per me The last girl rimane la sua serie più bella ma anche Obscura è promosso!
Obscura would make an awesome sci-fi thriller movie. Great story, lots of action and twists and turns. This book has it all: incurable disease, murder mystery, space travel, teleportation, psychological suspense. It grips you from the beginning and keeps you engaged throughout.
I definitely recommend reading this book and looking forward to reading more from this author.
Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for a copy of Joe Hart's "Obscura" in exchange of an honest review.
In Joe Hart'sObscura,researcher Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the verge of curing the disease that killed her husband and is threatening to destroy her 8-year-old daughter's life. The disease erases one's memories, much like Alzheimer's. When Dr. Ryan's research funding is axed, she makes a life-altering choice to work for a top-secret NASA program that promises to help her cure the disease.
As part of her assignment, Dr. Ryan must leave her daughter back on Earth for six months to investigate a mysterious case of memory loss involving several astronauts marooned at a space station. Her research on the astronauts promises a cure for her daughter, but when she arrives on the space station she learns that everything she thought about her mission was a farce. While in space, Dr. Ryan also begins to question reality as she struggles with hydrocodone withdrawals, an addiction that started after her husband passed away.
When Dr. Ryan and a team of scientists from NASA arrive at the space station, they discover that there is more than memory loss afflicting the astronauts: there's a murder, a suicide, and an attempted murder on Dr. Ryan. Is Dr. Ryan going mad, or is someone or something else is trying to take the lives of the space station's entire crew? In order to save her team, her research, and her daughter's life, Dr. Ryan and her colleagues will have to figure out what dark secrets the astronauts are hiding.
This was the second book I've read by Joe Hart, and it did not disappoint. I read it in less than 24 hours - it was so addicting. I loved that this book mixed so many genres, and if I had to choose a genre, I'd call it a psychological space thriller. I appreciate that the author included a female lead, as many sci-fi/technological thrillers are lacking in this regard. This book will be a favorite for readers who loved Blake Crouch's Dark Matter, Andy Weir's The Martian, or Annalee Newitz's Autonomous. Thank you to the author, Joe Hart, Thomas Mercer, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy ofObscura.
A new kind of dementia has hit earth... one that affects young folks, and rapidly. Meanwhile, in space, similar symptoms are showing up among astronauts beta-testing a new and potentially dangerous mode of transportation... Can our heroine solve both issues at once, while struggling through her own addiction issues, grief over her husband's death, and her young daughter's dementia diagnosis?
Though there are flaws here but overall you'll be hooked by the end of the first chapter. I read it in 2 days, got real spooked at one point, and enjoyed it!!
ETA two things. 1. CW: Addiction 2. Only BARELY passes the Bechdel test.
I was given a copy through NetGalley. OMG. Losian’s. That is what I fear. A more rapid form of Alzheimer’s, it takes a person’s mind and leaves them to be a violent unrecognizable shell of their former self. Gillian, in an effort to find a cure for her daughter Carrie after losing her husband to Losian’s, agrees to join a NASA space mission after her research funding was cut. However nothing is what she had originally agreed to once she was in space. This book had all the right elements to keep me reading. Obscura is a perfect blend of science fiction, thriller, and mystery that keeps you wanting to know what happens next. If you are a fan of Stephen King books, I recommend reading Obscura
4.0 Stars This was a solid scifi thriller with a good balance of suspense and action. Throughout the story, I was never quite sure what was actually going on. Between the main character's drug habit and family history of a dementia-like illness, I could never quite trust the reliability as a narrator. I also loved the setting which primarily took place in outer space. Seriously, more thrillers and horror books need to be set in place. More suspenseful than actually scary, I would recommend this one to anyone looking for a fresh thriller with a futuristic setting.
Obscura was a surprisingly great sci-fi thriller that is Reminiscent to Blake crouch’s recursion, yet all the action takes place in space. This is my first try with Joe Hart and I really enjoyed it! His writing is fluid the sci-fi elements and concepts are unbelievable yet apply nicely to the story line. The protagonist is endearing and there is a nice mounting crescendo of tension that culminates in a massive throw down by the books end.
Joe Hart takes us into the near-future in Obscura, to a time when the Earth is severely polluted and global warming is set to pay a disastrous toll. A deadly new virus, Losian, has emerged, cursing the afflicted with an Alzheimer's-like memory loss on the way to fatality. Although science hasn't had much luck curbing mankind's deadly carbon footprint, it has made some headway into developing a new, cutting-edge method of travel currently being tested in space. Inexplicably, though, the human test subjects are developing violent psychoses and memory loss - symptoms that bear remarkable similarities to Losian. After losing her research funding, Dr. Gillian Ryan is recruited by NASA to continue her work and develop a cure for those afflicted aboard the space station. Easy, right?
Hart does a tremendous job building up the story of Obscura, giving Gillian plenty of personal reasons to be involved in the search for Losian's cure, while also making her an important and striking character in her own right. Smart, tough, and resourceful, Gillian is a terrific heroine, but one who also has an important weak spot in her addiction to pills. On the science front, Hart's fresh mode of travel will be old-hat to plenty of sci-fi fans, but the technology is given a shiny new coat of paint here thanks to some refreshing plot elements and unintended consequences.
While Obscura is a thrilling read, Hart infuses plenty of creepiness throughout, injecting some welcome elements of horror that will keep readers guessing. There are a few memorable scenes, and characters, etched into my mind thanks to Hart's vivid descriptions and scenarios that packed a lovely bit of wow factor. The story itself is what truly grabbed me, though - murders aboard a space station, drug addiction, and whole lotta paranoia - all perfectly paced and flawlessly executed. I absolutely had to know what was happening, and what was going to happen next.
Obscura is the kind of read you need to clear your calendar for because this is one hell of a page-turner from start to finish. Fans of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter and Pines should feel right at home with this cutting-edge thriller.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from publisher Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley.]
Putting my super-cheap three month Kindle Unlimited membership (thanks to Goodreads) to its best use meant staking out around 30 books I wanted to read anyway, but had not yet spent the cash for the Kindle or credit for the Audible to add to my library. A few of my choices sounded iffy, but I was certain Obscura would be a winner. Every social media site I visit screams this book at me, as "a perfect match" for a sci-fi and thriller reader like Donna.
I can't express just how wrong they were. All of them.
I chose the Audible version, because my long commute lends itself well to listening. I am perhaps four hours into Obscura and I can't take another moment of this narrator destroying this book. Is it a decent story? Who the heck knows? Certainly not me, because who can concentrate with Christina Traister's pretentious voice assailing their ears? All I can hear is her weird over-enunciation of every single word and her "awwd" PNW-styled vowel switch with every word like conscience, which awwdly comes up quite a bit in a book about a neurological disease like Losian's. *sigh*
Additionally, I read science fiction FOR THE SCIENCE. The fiction is necessary, since a lot of the plausible isn't quite here yet, but a girl can dream, am I right? This futuristic sci-fi book is way too light on the science and pretty heavy on the drama.
One question, because I'm definitely not up on the addiction lingo: Do people really call hydrocodone pills "hydros"? Every time I heard that all I could think was Gillian was chugging a bottle of water.
Aggravation and annoyance across the board. It wasn't for me, but that's okay -- it was free! On to the next KU choice on my list, fingers crossed this one won't have a narrator that tries way too hard. I want to settle into something intriguing, and sadly Obscura never even hit interesting for me.
If I had to resort to the old Hollywood 5-second pitch, I'd describe this book as "Shutter Island in space." That being said, this one deserves much more than a quick cursory glance.
Obscura hits the ground running, forcing the reader to start jogging along if you don't want to get left behind. A disease similar to dementia and Alzheimer's is now affecting healthy young individuals, from adults to children. Due to circumstances which you'll discover once you read the book -- because this IS a book you'll read -- Dr. Gillian Ryan is asked to go up to a space shuttle where some of the crew on board are experiencing similar symptoms.
From there it's one seriously messed up flight. Combining elements of horror, science fiction, and psychological suspense, Hart does an amazing job at keeping the reader constantly guessing. But it's the depth of emotions and character that really take this to another level.
While I've been a fan of the author's work for some time and have watched his career with admiration, this is the novel that sets him apart from would-be writers. High concept, brilliant ideas, but flawlessly executed. Great to have a book on the contender's list for top book of the year so early in the year. Can't recommend this one enough.
Obscura is a sci-fi/thriller hybrid about a medical researcher in space. That was a setup I’d never heard before! I love when a book feels like a fresh and original experience.
Gillian Ryan is an expert on a dementia-like disease that can affect people of any age. She lost her husband to it, and now her daughter is showing signs as well. When she is approached by NASA about going into space to see if she can help astronauts who have been showing similar symptoms, she agrees because she hopes doing so will help find a cure to save her daughter.
There are a few problems: One, Gillian has an addiction that clouds her judgment and, at times, her perception, and two, NASA lied to her about key aspects of the mission. (Like, really really important aspects.) And that, my friends, is a recipe for a space disaster if I ever heard one!
While I got a little annoyed from time to time (I don’t like being inside a character’s head while they’re on drugs, for one thing, it’s just not my bag), mostly I was engaged with trying to put the pieces together to figure out what the heck was going on and how Gillian was going to get out of a string of impossible situations. This would be a fun thriller for your beach bag.
In the not so distant future, a lethal pandemic of unknown origin is sweeping the planet. A virulent form of dementia that spreads unchecked to people of all ages, with fatal results. The leading researcher into the contagion, driven by the loss of her husband to this plague, and the heartbreaking signs that her young daughter may be next, finds herself succumbing to addiction as her funding dries up. When an old friend offers her a chance at obtaining unlimited funding for her research, she jumps at the chance.....but there is a catch. NASA has developed a teleportation device that may be the key to interstellar travel, but the test subjects are falling victim to a similar affliction. All she has to do is travel to their space station, help discover a cure, and everything she needs to save her daughter, and the human race, will be hers for the asking. It's an offer too good to pass up. But things are not what they are advertised to be, as another form of death stalks the station, and deception shadows everything and everyone involved. She finds herself struggling with demons both internal and external as she struggles to accomplish her mission and save the one thing that means the world to her.
Hart enters the arena once ruled by Michael Crichton with this engaging thriller, and proves himself more than a match for the past master of science based thrillers, bringing a powerful human factor to his tale, along with lingering questions about the fate of the human race in the face of evolving biological threats, corporate dirty dealing, and the dark underbelly of medical ethics.....along with a talent for sustained white knuckle suspense.
Wow!! When I first read the book summary for Obscura, I knew I had to read it. From the sound of it, this book had everything I look for in a story: Strong lead (it also helped that she was an awesome woman!), interesting setting, unique concept and great writing. I reached out to the author Joe Hart, and was ecstatic when his publisher sent me a copy of the book. I had planned to read it before its release, but with our big out of state move, I found myself a bit behind in my reading. Now that I am all settled, I finally found the time to dive into this wonderful book. I loved every minute of it.
This book is set in the year 2028, which is only 10 short years away. Earth is to the point now where pollution is so bad in big cities, that people wear masks. There are landslides in China and Peru because of heavy rainfalls, and the last of the Arctic Ice is predicted to be gone in 5 years. Our main character Gillian is researching a cure for Losians disease, an intense and deadly condition similar to Alzheimers and Dementia. Scientists believe that Losians is partly caused by the changes in our environment, but also in part due to genetics and other potential markers. This disease has already claimed the life of Gillian's husband, and is now slowing killing her young daughter. Coincidentally, at the same time her research money runs out, her former boyfriend Carson shows up on her doorstep. Carson is an astronaut with NASA who has a potential solution to her financial problems. NASA wants her to research a group of astronauts on the space station who seem to have come down with Losians, and to investigate a murder that has occurred among them. She is hesitant to say the least. Gillian knows that this will take her away from her daughter for at least six months. Six months that she doesn't have to waste. But, her research will be fully funded upon her return and that is something she desperately needs. She agrees to the 6 month project, but what she expected to happen, is the exact opposite of what occurs. Gillian finds herself trapped in space with people who do not want her to succeed in her research. People who will stop at nothing to stop her. Add to this that Gillian is addicted to opiates, and things get intense very quickly.
I really don't want to spoil anything for you, so I am keeping the details to a minimum. This book is full of rich storytelling and creepy space claustrophobia. I loved the side characters like Birk, Gillian's research assistant and Carson, Gillian's ex from a lifetime ago. If I have one complaint about the book, it would be the rushed ending. I had been on the edge of my seat savoring the drawn out suspense and the ever increasing discomfort wondering what was going to happen. Then when all is revealed and the intense finale builds up, it ends fairly abruptly. I wanted that same drawn out ending so that I could really immerse myself in what was happening.
All in all, LOVED this book. Definitely add it to your must read list.
Thank you to Joe Hart and the publisher Thomas & Mercer for this Advanced Readers Edition of Obscura. It will be a lovely addition to my library for many years to come.
I don’t think you could find a more appropriate title for this book: Obscura. Is it a word? It has a meaning-ish to it. But it’s not clear. In Obscura, everything is blurred, nothing is clean and easy…Who is doing what is kept a mystery until the bitter end.
I’m not a huge science fiction fan, but something about Joe Hart’s book piqued my interest. It could have been a new debilitating illness, or the “creeping paranoia” - I’m a sucker for that. All I knew was that I wanted to get my hands on this book.
I got so much more than I expected from Obscura. The characters were deceptive, irresponsible and had enough quirks to keep me invested. There were times that I was as confused as the characters. Hart did a marvelous job of blurring the line between reality and hallucination. I spent so much time trying to figure out what was really happening, and cursing the characters for putting themselves in this position.
Hart created some great characters. Gillian Ryan was exquisitely detailed, I felt as though I knew her. Birk added some perfectly placed comic relief. The rest of the supporting cast enhanced the story.
At a time when I am getting a bit tired of the concept of the series, this is a longer storyline that I could actually see myself getting into; and like any smart author, Hart has left a thread or two dangling.
*I received a copy of the book from the publisher (via NetGalley).
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.
Fans of Andy Weir’s “The Martian” and Blake Crouch’s “Dark Matter” will enjoy Joe Hart’s sci-fi novel, “Obscura”. (Hart pays homage to Crouch in the “acknowledgements” portion of his novel, and it’s obvious in his writing that he is a fan).
A paralyzing illness is affecting many on Earth, causing dehabiliting memory loss, blackouts and aggressive episodes. Radiologist Gillian Ryan watched the illness take her husband’s life, and now she is watching her young daughter slowly lose herself to the disease. When Gillian is asked to travel to outer space to help uncover research that may lead to a cure, she reluctantly agrees. Billions of miles away from Earth, and from her daughter, Gillian finds herself plagued with doubt. She quickly realizes that the cure is not as unreachable as she once thought and there are those who would go to great lengths to ensure that the cure never makes it back to Earth, even if it means that Gillian herself will also never see home again.
This novel starts off with a bang. It engaged me right from the start, dragging me into the terror that the paralyzing illness is causing on Earth. Soon, Gillian is forced to accompany a group of (relatively) random strangers on a space mission, and the novel lost a little bit of its pull. As Gillian struggles to survive solo while her colleagues sleep in stasis, I was reminded of Andy Weir’s novel, “The Martian”. She struggles with addiction and paranoia all alone while trying to keep the mission on its course. I am not a huge fan of the astrophysics components of this novel (or Weir’s for that matter) and, although the spooky components kept me interested, I could not wait until the crew resurfaced and the search for the cure could continue.
Although the action in this novel was far-fetched and extreme (Gillian somehow managed to survive a brief walk on the surface of Mars unprotected) , it would not surprise me if this novel was turned into a movie. The constant action and intrigue would definitely bring in box-office dollars.
I was able to guess a large component of the ending of this novel early on (I managed to determine the “who” part pretty quickly) but overall was satisfied with how it played out.
Avid science fiction readers will adore Hart’s novel, as well as anyone with a curiosity in outer space or teleportation (to avoid spoilers, I won’t go into any more detail on that one!) . It was a little too science-y for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the character of Gillian, and the idea of a crippling neurological disease plaguing Earth.
Overall, a good read. I certainly will be eager to read more of Hart’s novels in the future.
Obscura is a story about a new form of dementia that does not discriminate age and the lengths people are willing to go to survive. Dr. Gillian Ryan is desperately searching for a cure for the illness that killed her husband and is threatening to take her daughter. She’s invited on a mission in space to work on that cure only to find out she’s been lied to about the mission and her purpose.
Obscura is a fantastic mix of science fiction and mystery. Hart is able to mix the two genres in organic ways that keeps the reader hooked. Not only is Obscura a thrilling science fiction mystery, it’s filtered through the lens of an addict desperately trying to fight through her urges. Gillian is an incredibly compelling main character; she’s driven by the loss of her husband, her love of her daughter, and the demands of her addiction. I was able to connect with her immediately as she’s thrown into space layered with politics and secrets. Gillian is a layered main character thoroughly fleshed out, however the secondary and tertiary characters are not. Everyone she interacts with fulfill a purpose rather than being unique individuals.
The only issue I have with the novel, and the reason I rated it four stars instead of five, was the climax of the mystery was slightly convoluted and unclear. I’m not asking that Hart hold my hand and explain in excruciating detail what happened, however I am asking for more clarity. Despite the lack of clarity, I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion of the story and the epilogue.
I would absolutely recommend this novel for fans of science fiction and mystery. It’s a quick read that will keep you glued to the pages and will also make you think. I will definitely be reading more of Hart’s work in the future.
***I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.