Review: ‘Illuminae’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This mornin23395680g, 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.

[From Goodreads]

Book details

Genre: YA

Series: The Illuminae Files, #1

Publisher: Rock The Boat

ISBN: 9781780748375

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Review

I finished this book about eight seconds ago and it’s taking all of my self-control not to type in all caps right now.

Illuminae is the most captivating, heart-wrenching, stomach-churning, mind-boggling, life-wrecking book I’ve ever read. And that’s saying a lot, because I’m probably the most emotionally affected reader on this planet. There were times when I wanted to rip up the pages and burn each piece to ashes because I was crying so hard. Other times, I just wanted to cradle it in my arms and weep for all of humanity.

It was basically just a tear-filled experience. I’m considering buying another copy because mine is filled with ruined pages that show evidence of my extreme emotional trauma.

Seriously, though, I might need therapy for my PTSD.

I was a little worried that all the hype surrounding Illuminae would wreck my own reading experience. Even before the book was released, bloggers worldwide were going gaga over it. Upon buying my own copy, I felt entirely overwhelmed and more than a little terrified by the onslaught of either very positive or very negative reviews online. Steering clear of spoilers was a nightmare, but even more concerning was the fear that I would join the ranks of those wholly disappointed by a book they’d awaited for months.

Obviously, I ended up loving it, either despite all the hype surrounding it or because it simply met all my skyscraper expectations. This is a book wholly unique, both in its storyline and in its narrative. Illuminae is told through the diary entries, personal IMs and video transcripts of passengers evacuating a destroyed planet, as well as files extracted from an Artificial Intelligence core (side note: the AIDAN files were what won me over. There’s nothing better than a psychotic robot’s viewpoint of humanity. Especially when said robot throws in quotes from all the classics and has an existential crisis).

Strangely enough, even though the entire story is told through hacked files, I feel like I know Kady and Ezra on a deeply personal level. They seem entirely human, like I could look up from the page and find them standing right in front of me. It’s a terrifying concept, but it shows just how incredibly well-written the book is, and how well the authors know their characters.

Illuminae has ruined me. I don’t even know where the tiny shards of glass that used to be my heart have vanished to – there’s just a giant black hole in my chest that probably won’t go away until the sequel is released.

5 stars

Rating: 5/5

Recommended to: EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. This book will change your life. (Scrap that – this book will DESTROY you. But it will be worth it.)

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The Last Word

I don’t know if you guys have seen inside the book yet, but it’s beautiful.

(These images shouldn’t contain major spoilers, but if you’re extremely sensitive about that type of thing then I don’t recommend scrolling down.)

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