Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

IlluminaeSource: Won
Publisher: Knopf Books
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
 Hardcover, 599 Pages
 Young Adult Science Fiction
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Illuminae is a unique take on the sci-fi space genre, that went right past interesting into addicting and consuming!

I was a bit hesitant about Illuminae. I knew I wanted to read it, but I wasn’t sure what to expect when everyone spoke of the different layout of the story but it turned out to be one of the most of visually appealing books outside of children’s picture books that I’ve read in recent years. Our story is told through a series of ‘documents’ like instant messenger chats, emails, computer logs, and debriefs. So instead of getting an up close and personal view of the action we see everything unfold through a secondary play by play. While it does put some distance between the reader and the character, I really loved the format. Some of the pages were far more powerful because of the images and the way the words we displayed, and it’s really amazing how much of the story you can glean from a simple pictograph.

Our main characters have three very different roles within the fleet that is fleeing a warship. Kady, is a bit of a technological genius who doesn’t like being kept in the dark and begins her hacking into the databases of the fleet to find out the truth. I really love her sarcasm and attitude, any character who sasses their way through a crisis is a kindred spirit. Then there is Ezra, Kady’s former boyfriend, who is the opposite of her but wholly devoted despite their falling out. He takes on the roles of a pilot, on a different ship in the fleet. I really love the email interactions between these two, because even though they are limited to contact purely in text form they really have a nice dynamic Then there is AIDAN, the AI on the ship Alexander…and probably my favorite character and the only one you really get to be inside the ‘mind’ of. Ever since HAL came to the screen, we’ve had an obsession with AI taking things into their own ‘hands’ and AIDAN is no exception to that. I loved getting to see it’s self awareness grow and just what happens to an AI that discovers it’s capable of independent thought.

Illuminae is a thrill ride from beginning to end, with a ton of different twists that I wasn’t expecting and and ending that has me ready for the second in the series. I have so many questions!

4 stars

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3 Responses to Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

  1. Christy LoveOfBooks says:

    I need to read this. I really dislike reading physical books, but I think I’ll have to with this one.

  2. I have to get a physical copy of this one for sure. I am glad that it turned out that it appealed to you. Thanks for the great review.

  3. I am looking forward to reading mine. I am glad you liked it.

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