Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Posted October 12, 2015 by Stormy in Book Reviews, Books / 8 Comments

Illuminae

 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae

Expected Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Length: 608 pages
Publisher:
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for consideration for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the final work.
#1 in The Illuminae Files
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thestory

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.

mythoughts

Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.

You know how sometimes you want to read a book that has characters you KNOW you’ll grow to love?
And maybe a little romance?
And maybe a few space explosions?
And maybe it’s told in a non-traditional fashion, because you want something NEW?
But also something that reminds you a little of your favorite things?
And that’s also a page-turner?
And intense?
And holds no punches?

Well, that’s what I got with Illuminae. Don’t get me wrong, I expected to like this book, maybe even love it. I was really excited for it. But I didn’t expect it to make me exclaim “This is the best book I’ve read in months!” a quarter through. Simply put, this book is A-MAZING. There’s so much to love about it, I don’t know where to start.

Though I should probably say that apparently I’m bad at reading summaries, because I didn’t realize the story was told completely through found documents. I knew they were included, but for some reason I had it in my head that there would be standard narrative format simply interspersed with emails, transcripts, etc. Nope. The entire book is told that way, through transcripts and at times visual imagery. I read the eARC, which was much easier to follow than expected, so I can’t say this for sure, but I expect the final copy will be a work of art. It kinda felt like a love letter to science fiction at times. There’s more pop culture references than you would expect, but they work, and it makes everything feel SO GRAND, like the characters know they’re living in the middle of this story. I don’t mean that in a meta way, necessarily. Just that Illuminae gets philosophical at times.

I’m not gonna even try to summarize the plot, because I’d be terrible at it, and the synopsis does a pretty decent job. All you really need to know is that Kady and Ezra’s planet is invaded and they end up on a evacuating spaceship fleet on two different ships. . . and even though they broke up the day their planet was invaded, if they’re going to survive, they have to talk to each other again. There’s corporate espionage and a deadly, mutating virus and AI that THINKS it’s protecting the ships but might be really harming people instead.

 Despite how long Illuminae is, it doesn’t feel long AT. ALL. I’ve never felt 600 pages fly by so quickly. I think part of that is there’s not actually 600 pages worth of words. Since the story is told through documents, the design plays around with white space and art a lot. I am so impressed by not only the writing in this book, but also by the design, and how everything is so cohesive considering it was co-authored. I just HAD to know what happened next.

I felt for these characters so much. It’s amazing how well I feel I got to know them considering the way the story is written. I liked Ezra, but I loved Kady. She’s tough on the exterior, and boy is she confident, but she had these beautiful moments of vulnerability in her journal from time to time that felt so powerful for how sparse they were. Even though the story is filtered through all these documents, I still totally got how Kady so often used that exterior as a shield when she was really broken about being torn away from everyone she’d ever love, and the only person left she had might not make it either.

This is just one of those books that has everything. I laughed, I cried(okay, well I didn’t REALLY cry, but I did tear up), I pondered. The romance is heart-warming, the characters compelling, the pacing is spot-on. The horrifying stuff sent shivers down my spine. There’s sarcasm and snark(very important to me, apparently). Illuminae is fun, but it’s also beautiful in its display of one human’s resilience despite everything. In short, I loved everything about this book and I don’t feel I’m doing it justice. I just want to keep rambling, but I could never touch on every single thing I loved about this book. . . because then I’d have a 600 page review on my hand. To sum up, do you love science fiction? And space? Then get your hands on this book ASAP.

 xyJPgl0

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I LOVE this book. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. I can’t say it’s my favorite book I’ve read this year(because that’s just too hard), but it’s top 5 for sure. Maybe even top 3.  5/5 cupcakes.

yellowaddit3

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5 Stars

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8 responses to “Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. Oh my! I do want to see a print version of this book. I wouldn’t have expected it to get such a good review because it seems like quite an unconventional format. But I’m very intrigued now.

    • Stormy

      Yeah, sometimes unique formatting like that can come across as a gimmick, but in this book’s case it worked really well!

  2. Your review makes me feel slightly less nervous about Illuminae. It’s one of my highly anticipated books this year, but I’ve also been worried that a) it’s over-hyped and b) it’s really a romance novel masquerading as a sci-fi. I haven’t read anything by Jay Kristoff yet, but I was disappointed by These Broken Stars and This Shattered World for that reason. If it passes the Stormy test, though, I think it should be alright. 😀

    • Stormy

      I do worry about the hype now! I loved it but I’ve tried to not even talk about it much on twitter because I feel it’s SO HYPED already. I thought it would be because the marketing budget was huge for it, from what I can tell, so I read my copy as early as possible before the hype really hit. . . but of course now it has. I don’t think you have to worry about the romance novel masquerading as sci-fi! The romance is there and it’s important, but it’s more of A plot point rather than THE plot point. There are lots of explosions.

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