Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: Young Adult/Sci-Fi/Horror
Page Count: 602
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Notable Notables: Unconventional storytelling using unique formats
Recommended Readers: EVERYONE!
My hat is off to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for Illuminae—what a beautifully ambitious (and ambitiously beautiful) book! Their brand of crazy can only be my brand of crazy because nothing less could make me fall head over heels for a book that contains literally all of my fears concerning space in one place—and making me desperate for more!
I’m so happy I made Illuminae my first read of 2019. Talk about starting the year off with a bang.
So, how do I even describe this one? Well, first of all, let’s start with the premise. Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have had an explosive breakup, but it can’t compare to the sudden attack on their illegal mining colony by BeiTech Corporation. The two manage to survive on separate rescue vessels, but the situation is still grim. First, the main warship is severely damaged and barely evading the last pursuing BeiTech warship, the AI is malfunctioning due to the damage and may now be their worst enemy, and a virus is cycling through another vessel, mutating with deadly results. Worst, the chain of command isn’t communicating with their passengers, forcing Kady to take matters into her own hands to locate the truth and protect the people she cares about.
Okay, so, let’s recap: You’re on a floating deathtrap in the depths of space. No one else knows you’re there or will come to your rescue unless you can get your ship to safety, and the enemy will soon be at the gates with the intent to utterly annihilate you. Your AI is apparently losing it, and there’s a virus infecting countless people and it’s only a matter of time until it gets to you. Oh, and, your leaders aren’t telling you anything. Yes. These are some of my worst fears, compounded because they’re all happening in the cold, dark silence of space.
Excuse me while I just scream.
The story is so good, though, that I found a way to push through the fear, and a big part of what made it possible was how the story was told. I didn’t expect to love the format of the novel as much as I did. The more I poured over the interviews, ship logs, mission reports, IMs, and other files, though, the more fascinated I became. When it finally struck me how much was being conveyed without loads of descriptive prose was when I was simultaneously awed and humbled.
See, I like descriptive prose. I mire myself in it all the time. Aside from mission reports where action was described, there was very little of that prose—mostly it was characters talking to each other, the story being conveyed directly through their eyes and observations. Such obvious care was placed into these character interactions because so much of the story unfolded effortlessly in my head, no long paragraphs of description required. That was awesome.
And then there were the AI files. Oh man, they gave me such chills. They were gorgeous and horrifying. Did I mention I have a thing for psychotic, murderous AIs? I have a thing for psychotic, murderous AIs, especially those who honestly believe they’re “doing the right thing to protect others.” AIDAN quickly became my favorite character, despite how horrific its actions were. Actually, maybe because of how horrific they were.
I’m effed up, and this book is, too, and I loved it. I cannot recommend it anymore or sing its praises any higher.
I honestly drove ten miles above the speed limit with a broken turn signal light to get to the library before it closed to get the next two books of the trilogy. That’s dedication, guys! And also, obsession, probably.
But the Illuminae Files are worth it. I’ve been putting off this trilogy for so long because I really didn’t expect to be this hooked, but now I can see what a fool I was. But at least now I don’t have to wait for anymore releases, ha! I can’t wait to continue reading and see how dark and twisted the rest of the trilogy will be. As soon as I finish a few more January reads, I’m coming back to this immediately.
Have you guys read Illuminae? If you haven’t, what about it intrigues you or puts you off from reading it? If you have, what was your favorite part? Who was your favorite character? What shocked you the most? (There were many for me.) Let me know!