Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files, #1
Page Count: 599
Publisher: Knopf Books
Original Publication Date: 2015
Genre(s): Young adult, Sci-fi
The year is 2575 and 17-year-old Kady Grant just broke up with her boyfriend Ezra before class. She thought sitting in the same room as him would be the hardest thing she had to do all day. She was wrong. Two mega-corporations are at war, and Kady and Ezra’s planet soon becomes the battlefield. As their entire ice-covered planet is invaded, all hell breaks loose. Kady and Ezra somehow make it off their planet alive, though on 2 separate spacecrafts, making up a retreating fleet of 3. They’re not safe yet, though — a deadly warship is tailing them, a mutating, deadly virus begins infecting those aboard one of the spacecrafts, and the fleet’s AI suddenly goes rogue. Kady and Ezra may have broken up, but now they’ve got to work together to save their lives.
Okay okay okay okay okay. First, can I just say that this is one of the most gorgeous books I own? Seriously, it’s so brilliantly designed — the hardcover is white and looks like an official document with text and redactions and red pen all over it, and the dust jacket is colored a stunning combination of reds, yellows and oranges, and is partially transparent and just…ugh, it’s gorgeous. Not to mention some amazingly beautiful pages in between all the documents and transcripts. Like, can we just
the beauty of it all?
AHHHHH. I’m so in love!
Anyway. So, wow. I’ve never read anything quite like Illuminae, I can say that as a fact. It’s definitely a whirlwind of a story, told through a dossier of “hacked documents” such as IMs, emails, military files, interviews, medical reports, etc. At first, this made me really nervous because it seems like such an impersonal way to tell a story. It’s like an epistolary novel, but on crack. I was happily proved wrong, however, as I read this massive, beautiful book. The emotion is not lost — it’s there, and it often sends a swift kick to your gut. I will say the story gets a little lost at times, due to the strange nature of the way the story’s told. There’s a lot going on, and a constant switching between different types of documents, so it can be a little confusing, but for the most part it’s a really engaging, action-packed story.
For a YA book, I didn’t expect so much violence. I didn’t expect it to be so creepy, either! I’m a big sci-fi nerd, but rarely do I read the genre because I never seem to find any popular books. That’s why Illuminae caught my attention so quickly — a super-popular YA sci-fi is right up my alley. Well, it’s definitely science fiction, but it also borders a bit on the horror side. It’s got space and action and suspense, but it’s also got a deadly, zombie-like virus that spreads through the fleet. As my long-time readers know, zombies terrify me. Viruses that make people go crazy terrify me. The virus isn’t really a zombifying virus, though — it’s more like one of those make-you-go-crazy-like-you’re-on-bathsalts viruses. And it’s creepy. Like, I had to go downstairs into the kitchen in the midst of reading this book and the whole house was dark and I was super scared because I’m a baby and the book creeped me out so bad. I loved it. I love books that can scare me and this one definitely has an element of creep-factor to it. It honestly reminded me of a cross between Star Wars and Deadspace. Beware, though — there is a ton of violence, especially for YA.
Like I said, though, it’s action-packed and super suspenseful. I read the majority of this book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down! If you’re looking for a heart-pounding page-turner, look no further.
Since the story is told through documents, you don’t really get anyone’s internal thoughts, except the AI’s and Kady’s through her journal entries. Even so, you get a feel for these characters early on. Ezra is flirty, witty, and a good guy at heart; Kady is sarcastic, arrogant, and determined as hell. They’re both very endearing, and it’s fun to watch them interact through IMs.
I also really fell in love with Zhang and McNulty — those guys won over my heart with their wit and charm, and I was rooting for them to survive throughout the entire book.
WARNING: There’s so much death in this book, so seriously, beware falling in love with characters. No one is safe.
It’s hard to remember this is written by somebody—two somebodies, actually—since it’s all in document-form, but I’ve got to say, Kaufman and Kristoff did a really great job. The language they use is great, the world they’ve created is interesting and terrifying all at once, and they really captivated the teenage voice to a T.
I truly enjoyed this book and am eager to purchase the sequel. Sadly, I’m low on funds, so if anyone wants to give me a hardcover copy, thanks, I’d appreciate it.
Also, according to Kaufman’s website, the book is in development for film? Sooooo I’m pretty excited!!
“You have me. Until every last star in the galaxy dies. You have me.”
“Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.”