Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff Review



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

(via Goodreads )

My rating: 5/5 stars

Pros: Unique writing style, Good characters, Exciting plot, made me think

Cons: Occasionally confusing

I’m not a big fan of 3-D movies. Perhaps it’s because I’m not used to them. Perhaps it’s because I can get immersed in a story just fine without feeling like I’m actually in it. Perhaps it’s because the experience of feeling like I’m in a story is just a little bit scary (or very scary, depending on the story). Yet the best comparison I can make for Illuminae is that it’s like a 3-D movie. While reading the book, I didn’t just feel absorbed in the story. I felt like I was an actual character in the story. Like I was from the planet Kerenza and was on a spaceship heading to safety. I’m not sure how many of you have seen the movie–or read the book–of The Neverending Story but reading Illuminae was, for me, the closest I could get in reality to reading that book (and by that I mean the book within the book/movie). While reading, I felt like I was part of the story.

This is mostly due to the unique writing style of the book. According to the Goodreads summary, the book is told in “a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more.” Reading these “hacked documents” was extremely unique and atmospheric. As I said, it felt like I was a character in the story. This feeling only helped me to enjoy the story more. I felt as if the characters were people I knew and that I was not only reading about their journey, I was on the journey with them.

Speaking of characters, the characters were all amazing and well-written. Both Kady and Ezra were well-written main characters. I loved Kady’s intelligence and determination as much as I loved Ezra’s snark and playful nature. Yet the two main characters were not the only ones I felt like I knew. Every character from the captains of the two space ships to Kady’s hacker friend and mentor to AIDAN the sometimes insane AI who becomes more humanized as the story goes on. Every single character added to the story and while reading I felt like I knew all of them well. I cared about what happened to all of them which only heightened my interest in the plot.

The plot of Illuminae was exciting. The spaceships trying to outrun the Lincoln was exciting. You rooted for them to make it to safety. All of the other plot events were exciting too from AIDAN destroying a ship to keep the virus away from the other ships to Kady going over in a pod to try to rescue Ezra. The whole time I was reading, I was on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what was going to happen next. This book was not predictable in any way. I’m quite picky with sci-fi books and one of the reasons is because I feel like they can sometimes be somewhat predictable. Maybe it’s because I don’t read a whole lot of sci-fi but I didn’t find this book predictable at all. It continuously surprised me and that made for a fun reading experience.

Illuminae was also a book that made me think. I put tabs on many quotes that were thought provoking or that I felt had special insights into human nature. I don’t want to give away all of the book’s best quotes but I will put some of them here just so you can have an idea.

“Two minutes out there is about all it takes to teach you how little you know about everything. You’re a speck of animated carbon and water with about seven centimeters of ballistics grade ceramic between you and absolutely nothing. Ninety-three billion light years of ****ing nothing. No up. No down. No sky. No ground. Just endless dark shot through with tiny spears of sunlight older than you and your entire species stacked end to end. You want to feel small? Spend sixty seconds in a Cyclone’s cockpit, chum. Look out at the nothing and feel it looking back. Then you know exactly how much you add up to.”

This quote makes me think of how small we humans can feel compared to the vastness of the universe. How no matter how big our problems and our lives may seem to us, they aren’t much in the grand scheme of things.

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

It is somewhat “crazy” to be brave. Bravery is rarely smart or cautious or what people do because it makes sense. Bravery is what people do because it’s right. Because it’s worth the risk. Because they want to make a difference in the world.

“I still cannot fathom her pattern. My brain the size of a city, and still she is beyond me. They are beyond me. These humans. With their brief lives and their tiny dreams and their hopes that seem fragile as glass.”

This is a quote from AIDAN, the AI. Yet I believe it’s something that many of us have thought. It’s sometimes hard for us people to understand each other. No matter how intelligent we may be, no matter how hard we try, it’s rare for any of us to completely understand another person.

“How many people have loved only to have lost? How countless, the hopes that have died? But not this one.”

More deep thoughts from AIDAN. People love and lose all the time. People’s hopes die all the time. Yet it is possible to not let your hope die. To keep going no matter what.

Despite all of the wonderful qualities of this book, no book is perfect. Though this one is pretty close. Although the unique writing style helps the reader to get invested and engrossed in the book, it does at times make things confusing. However, it does not happen so often or so intensely for it to be a reason not to read the book. I always ended up figuring things out eventually, and if you read the book, I’m sure you will too.

I would definitely recommend Illuminae to anyone who loves good sci-fi with interesting characters, and exciting plot, and lines that really make you think.

Goodreads link / Amazon link



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