The Illuminae Files #1
by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published on October 20, 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
Illuminae is nothing like I’ve ever read before.
A sci-fi spaceship adventure, this book is told through message logs. Emails (for lack of a better word). Thoughts from an Artificial Intelligence. Interview logs. Reports. Do NOT expect prose in the sense you’re likely used to but be assured you’ll be sucked in just as quickly with little hope of survival.
To be completely honest, I’m not really sure where to start with this book.
I really didn’t connect with either of the protagonists, Kady and Exra, for quite some time. Granted, this book is around 600 pages so plenty of time to get into it but that initial hook didn’t do it for me. Their home planet is attacked and they’re forced to evacuate. In the process, they end up on different ships (also they just broke up but now are stuck in the middle of a crisis so talk about DRAMA). And all that is well and good, but because of the way the story is told, I personally found it harder to get a sense of their characters until later on.
Kady is the hacker friend I always secretly wanted. Snarky and smart, she balances Ezra’s fierce loyalty and more lighthearted nature. But outside of those characteristics, I was disconnected from their relationship, from the others they interacted with, and it comes down to this book’s overall style.
You’re told what happens through computer files, essentially. There’s something cold about computers; the emotion is taken out of it similar to how AIDAN (the artificial intelligence) doesn’t quite understand human emotion and attachment. So where this book is an absolute standout with the illustrations and unique writing, it’s also it’s biggest downfall in my opinion. I love my straight-up narratives but I also loved this book but it’s hard to compare the two.
Once I got submerged into the story-telling style of Illuminae everything unfolded at a death-defying pace. The action never stopped, the tension grew thicker and thicker, the suspense had me leaning into the pages as if on a precipice of something bigger.
Until the ending.
And I’m talking like the very end here, when everything wrapped up and holy hell wtf is with the happy ending?!
No, I’m not against happy endings.
Yes, I’m against this one.
Avoiding spoilers, I was disappointed in how this book ended. After all the heartache, the drama, the destruction in the middle of space, everything that spells BAD — it just…wrapped up. A nice little package of (relative) happiness. Not that I want everyone to die and it end in sadness, I felt like it was at odds with the rest of the story. After EVERYTHING that happens, it was just too clean.
Yet despite these few issues, Illuminae was amazing. After passing through the first chunk of the story, when the stakes skyrocketed, I didn’t put it down until the end. As in, y’all need to read this book if you haven’t already.
(And I know you shouldn’t judge a book my its cover but the plastic dust jacket plus the naked cover/spine = perfection.)