All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

on August 21, 2017

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Allen & Unwin
2015, 599p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

One moment, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have nothing bigger to worry about than each other. Specifically, avoiding each other in the wake of their messy break-up. In the next second, their entire world falls apart.

The year is 2375 and one of the mega-corporations that control much of deep space has just fired the opening salvo in an intergalactic war, destroying Kady and Ezra’s planet. Forced to flee on a small fleet of crippled rescue ships alongside thousands of other refugees, the fear of enemy warships chasing them down is at first all-consuming but soon becomes the least of their worries. A deadly plague is ravaging the refugees on the ships; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be an enemy; and High Command is refusing to acknowledge that there may be a serious problem. As Kady plunges into a tangled web of data in search of the truth, she realises that Ezra is possibly the only person who can help her save the refugees before it’s too late.

I’ve never read anything by either Amie Kaufman or Jay Kristoff before this – both somehow authors that I’ve always had on my radar but just through circumstance, haven’t read. I had seen so much hype and love for this (and the 2nd book in the series, Gemina) but it wasn’t until I saw it on a display shelf at my local library recently that I grabbed it on  whim to see what all the fuss was about. When I signed up for #TheReadingQuest Challenge, I figured that Illuminae was a perfect book to include in that. I could’ve used it for any number of categories really! This challenge has been so good for pushing me to finally read certain books, be they ones already on my shelves or ones that I’ve just been meaning to check out for ages.

Here’s where my problem lies – the problem of how to review this book. It’s quite a difficult book to review but firstly I’m just going to say that: It. Is. Absolutely. Brilliant.

It’s a futuristic epistolary-style novel where all the information is imparted to the reader by way of a large dossier constructed on a hostile invasion of an illegal mining operation taking place on a small planet. It’s comprised of letters/emails, personal journal entries, communications circled aboard spaceships and also viewings of things like security footage.

Kady Grant and Ezra Mason are two teens on that small, invaded planet named Kerenza who have just broken up and are engaged in hostilities. During the invasion they escape their school together but are then rescued onto different ships – Kady onto the science research vessel Hypatia, Ezra onto the battlecarrier Alexander both of which responded to the distress calls coming from Kerenza during the attack. A third ship, Copernicus also responded and now all three carry refugees and information, heading for Jump Station Heimdall where they can relay that information about the attack. All three are also being pursued by dreadnought Leviathan, a ship belonging to the company that authorised and carried out the invasion with the sole purpose of destroying all three ships carrying refugees and leaving no survivors. Where things get complicated is that Alexander was damaged slightly in a battle with the Leviathan and although its artificial intelligence system is self-repairing it seems to be malfunctioning slightly and well, going rogue. Long story short: it’s up to two teenage kids to save as many people as possible and get the limping ships back to Heimdall so that their story can be told.

I think this is the sort of book where either the format will work for you or it won’t. It really, really worked for me and I thought it was a brilliant way to present the story. It gets more and more complex as the story goes on and AIDAN (the Alexander’s artificial intelligence program) begins communicating as well. There are lots of different formats and everything looks like it would if you were reading a file comprised of this information – different handwriting, fonts, files, layouts, email addresses, hacked ID’s etc. There are diagrams of the ships and probably a million other things that I haven’t listed here. Some of my favourites were the analysis of the security cam footage taken from usually the ships and transcribed with humorous detail.

Illuminae has pretty much something for everyone – it’s a crazy space adventure with lots of danger and mystery. Underpinning it all is the connection between Kady and Ezra, who have split for reasons not detailed at the beginning of the book. Their views toward each other are somewhat hostile (Kady to Ezra mostly) but evolve as they reconnect and also begin to realise the seriousness of the situation they’re in. As bad as it seemed in the beginning, it gets much, much worse and both of them play crucial roles in understanding what is happening and their romance is a big motivation for them both. I absolutely loved both Kady and Ezra – their personalities are so well displayed, even through the mediums the authors have used in order to tell the story. And this is such a smart, clever, intricate story – you don’t even realise how clever it is at first. It’s so much more complex and rich than it appears at first glance and the amount of work that must’ve gone into constructing it must be phenomenal. The details is incredible, right down to computer errors, log-ins, just…..everything. I picked up this book late Thursday afternoon and read 100p before going out to dinner. On my way I stopped in at my local bookshop and picked up Gemina because I knew already from that 100p I’d read that I would absolutely 100% need to have Gemina standing by the second I finished this (and I was right).

Even if you think you won’t really like this, try it! I wasn’t sure it was going to be my sort of thing (hence why I grabbed it from the library) but I was absolutely hooked from the first page and now I’ll be buying my own copy of this one to have on my shelf. The third novel Obsidio comes out next year and I would imagine a re-read will be in order before it’s released.


Book #140 of 2017

Illuminae was read as a part of my participation in #TheReadingQuest Challenge, created by Aentee @ Read At Midnight. The fantastic illustrations are the creation of CW from Read, Think, Ponder. It ticks off the third category on my Mage pathway – Read A Book With A One Word Title.

Here’s my updated character card. 10pts earned for completing another book taking me to 40 experience points and 60 points earned for pages read.



One response to “Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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