Welcome to the city of Osiris, mankind’s last hope for survival after the great storms caused catastrophic damage across the world. This glowing city, built on the water, surrounded by nothing but more water, is home to thousands of citizens living their lives without fear in a city of plenty. Adelaide is the only daughter of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Osiris and passes her days going from party to penthouse, caring about nothing except her twin brother, Axel, who has gone missing. She’ll stop at nothing to find him. Vikram comes from quite a different Osiris, the western half, populated with the descendants of the only boat of refugees to ever arrive at Osiris.
They live in poverty and squalor, likely to die of hypothermia in bed one night if they avoid getting stabbed or shot by the gangs or the city guards that keep them within their section. Vikram just wants to get some help for his people – a couple of aid parcels, a decent hospital, maybe reliable heating in a few buildings – but he can’t get these things without help. Maybe, just maybe, Adelaide could give Vikram the help he needs and maybe she might get something just as important in return.
Within just a few page, I was completely engrossed in the world E.J. Swift has created in ‘Osiris’. I passed by bus stops in a blur, totally lost track of which train station was next and very nearly missed my destination on several occasions. I was in a different place entirely and that’s the kind of book that makes me grin.
It helped that Adelaide and Vikram were such wonderful characters. Adelaide is a frivolous young woman who parties and plays, but who is also extremely concerned for her missing brother’s safety, tries desperately hard to rebel against her family and who secretly feels a bit lost and directionless. She needs something to fight for. Vikram is troubled, fighting for a future, any future, for his people, who are starving and freezing. He has hope that a better future can arrive, hope that he can escape the violence of his past, hope that somewhere there is a decent life waiting for him and the few friends he has left. They both start off seeming so simple but, as we get to know them better, they turn out to be deeply complex individuals, both snared in circumstances dictated solely by where they were born. I loved them both and enjoyed the wide range of people I met through them.
You could say similar things about the plot really. It starts off being quite simple and then further layers keep appearing to add in new twists and turns to take you by surprise. It certainly kept me reading page after page. Every time I thought I’d figured out where it was going, the plot went somewhere else and, every time the plot went somewhere new, we learned a little more about the city, its history, the people and the culture. It’s got a healthy dose of politics, some serious issues to consider, bits to make you laugh and bits to make you sad. What more do you want?
I really enjoyed ‘Osiris’ and am very glad I stumbled across this series. I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy and can’t wait to get immersed in this brilliant world once more.
(pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2013. 436 page enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-091593-05-8)