Review: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) – Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

Today I am switching it up from the influx of fantasy reviews that I have been posting as of late in favour of one of the sci-fi variety.

I’ve been apprehensive of picking up the ‘Illuminae Files’ series given its rather unique visual storytelling aspect.

Did I find that the ‘found footage’ aspect of Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) inhibited my ability to enjoy the reading experience? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

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23395680Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 20, 2015)

Print Length: 599 pages

Audiobook Length: 11 hrs and 41 mins

Narrator: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, Jonathan McClain

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.

The Review

So I should probably just get this out of the way, Illuminae was told via the most interesting format. Instead of the tradition event story with exposition, dialogue, and the beginning, middle, and end, Illuminae is structured through briefing notes, email communications, charts, transcribed video footage, system notes et cetera. In fact nothing is present tense until the very end of the novel, when one of the biggest twists I never saw coming, in a novel, happened. I’ve been reading for a long time, so to say I was surprised by formatting alone means I read a seriously special book.

Illuminae itself follows, primarily, teenagers Kady and Ezra as they leave behind their home planet of Kerenza, aboard two evacuating star ships, the Alexander and the Hypatia, hoping to elude an enemy warship, the Lincoln.

Besides the unique format of the book, Kaufman and Kristoff talents came through with their characters. Sometimes, when I read a book authored by more than one person, I can tell which author wrote which section, character, or twist. However, with Kady and Ezra, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which author I though brought who to life on the page. Kady, as a character, was wonderfully brave in the face of overwhelming animosity. Even though she didn’t think she had it in her to be a ‘hero’, silly trope I know, she ended up rising to the occasion to save the remaining survivors of the Kerenza genocide. Ezra, on the other hand, mainly did things in order to appease Kady, or get back with Kady, or prove to Kady that he was worth it. I know these two aren’t main characters in Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)  but I hope that if they do come back they learn to fight for others just as much as they fight for themselves. Finally, though it only comes into play for the last third of the book, I though giving AIDEN, the psychotic artificial intelligence system on board the Alexander, a humanoid quality was galvanizing. Giving it human emotions made the weight of its choices in the beginning that much more clout.

I suppose the only thing I have left to say is that when I pick up Illuminae’s sequel, Gemina, I may take the advice of several Goodreads reviewers and listen to the audiobook whilst following along with the physical copy, as I did find my mind wandered through some of the different files included.

Overall Rating:  4 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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And those are my thoughts on Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Have any YA sci-fi book recommendation? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.




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