Hello, Bookish Buddies, and welcome to my (first ever!) review of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. For those of you who haven’t heard the synopsis, here it is:
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.
First off, I want to talk about the awesomeness that was the formatting of this story. It was told in IM conversations, emails, conversation transcripts, graphics, and a bunch of other awesome documents. This format made the beginning of the novel a little confusing, since you’re not introduced to the characters and the setting in a traditional way, but it made the book all the more intriguing and hard to put down. Most of the documents were totally epic and engaging, however there were these footage surveillance summaries in the first half of the novel that were so boring that they made me zone out. They were pretty epic in the second half of the novel, though. Throughout the story there were witty little briefing notes in front of some of the documents, which made me wonder who the documents were intended for and how they obtained them, adding another level of complexity to the reading experience. One nit-picky thing that really got on my nerves was the many censored curse words that kind of took me out of the story after a while. Seriously, who gives a fuck if there are uncensored curse words in the story? Anyway, throughout reading Illuminae, it kept me guessing and never knowing what was coming next. The reader got to see different sides of the characters through each form of media, making the reader really feel for them.
Another thing I loved about Illuminae was the characters. First, there is Kady, a sarcastic computer genius who you can’t help but root for. One of my favorite medium that this story was her diary entries. You really got to look deep into her character and feel for her throughout all of her trials and tribulations. Next, there’s Ezra, a sassy Second Lieutenant that has logic and the ability to think things through that an overwhelming amount of YA characters lack. Last but not least, there’s AIDAN, a psychotic yet surprisingly poetic AI system that is having an existential crisis the entire time we read from its point of view. All of these characters are witty and sarcastic, and although they may be frustrating, they’re lovable at the same time.
Something else I liked about Illuminae was all of the questions it brought up about morality and existence in general. These deeper questions were not something I was expecting out of this book at all, but they were worked in so well and added so much to it. There was also a really cool psychological aspect that I wish there was more of. Reading this book was a bumpy ride, full of both predictable and unpredictable plot twists, deep and complex characters, tragic loss and events, and just the right amount of humor and fluff to balance it all out.
Overall, I gave Illuminae a 4/5 for its uniqueness and totally epic reading experience.