Illuminae Review

Illuminae - Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman

This book, this book... I honestly think it broke me.  Twice I've sat down to write this review and I found myself just staring at an empty screen with no words.  Nothing seems to be able to describe the journey I just went on with Kady, Ezra, and even AIDEN itself. I'm still trying to get my thoughts together for this review: everything I loved, every time I felt like the authors crushed my soul, and the pure dread when I was stuck in AIDEN's thoughts.  Illuminae pulled at every emotion I have is without a doubt one of my favorite reads of 2016.


Illuminae is written as a dossier re-telling the events that occurred after the events on the ice planet Kerenza.  Three ships containing all of the survivors are on the run from the last enemy ship that his hunting them down to hide the last few 1000 eye witnesses to what took place.  Our story is focuses one two survivors, on two separate ships, Kady and Ezra.  Who just a few hours ago broke up in a spectacular kind of way, but that seems a little small potatoes now they no longer have a home planet because BeiTech.  Unfortunately, the quickly approaching dreadnought is the least of their worries.  The AI on the only battleship protecting has gone crazy due to damages took in the fight to defend Kerenza.  Oh and that's not all.  It seems some sort of virus is spreading through civilians on one of the ship called Phobos.


How's that for a summary of the book? Could our main characters possibly have to slog through a few more problems trying to get to the safety of the Space Station Heimdal?  Wait until you find out just who this dossier was written for.  Even when things are bad, it can always get worse.


I have to say I adored the way Kaufman and Kristoff wrote this book: surveillance footage, e-mails, IMs, and com communication.  It's unique and a wonderful way to tell a story.  I felt engaged in the story because sometimes I'd have to turn the book sideways or upside down to read.  The entire read was an experience you don't normally get with a book.  So I thank them for putting something new in the lap of avid reader.  


Do I want all books to be like this?  Naw, this kind of the works for Illuminae because of the kind of sci-fi adventure that it was.  It works because on the characters is an AI and you have to get inside of AIDEN's mind to understand parts of the story.


I also loved all of the nods to classic sci-fi movies that came before them: Battlestar, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.  As a sci-fi nerd as well, I thank you that.  But, my absolute favorite part was the fact that there was no sound in space! Both authors did their research on what happens in space when things explode and in zero gravity and I appreciate that.  Because everyone knows that in space no one can hear you scream.


Kaufman and Kristoff's writing styles mesh well together and I honestly couldn't tell you who wrote what parts.  Everything flowed together and I never once felt like the story itself started to lag.  There was always some question that needing answered, another twist to the ever flowing lies being told to the civilians on aboard the Hepitia and Copernicus.   


Oh and AIDEN, the way that its written is beautifully insane.  Some of the things that written are almost lyrical.  A part of you feels for AIDEN despite being artificial intelligent, but a part of you hates him.  I have to admit some of the sections with the AI gave me chills and made me a bit uneasy.  The it is with Kady and how it believes so whole hardily in what it's doing.  Am I not merciful?  That's the question it would ask over and over.  Just like Commodus in Gladiator.  




There wasn't a lot that I honestly didn't like about Illuminae, but there was a couple of things.  First was the end of the book, while it was good and I sort of saw it coming when the character was first mentioned.  Which is fine, I was hoping said person wouldn't be that character, but it wasn't enough to turn me away from the book.  The second thing was the romance.  At times I found it kind of annoying because seriously, intergalactic war and the AI is clearly insane.  Can your epic love story take a back a seat?  Again, it wasn't enough to turn me away, because everyone needs someone to fight for.


All in all I loved it!  In fact I've been gushing about this book since I first opened it. To which I'm sure my flatmate is sick of hearing about it, but I've added it a list of things she needs to read.  In fact I recommend it anyone who loves the sci-fi genre.  Even if it's just to read a book that's written like Illuminae, just for the experience.  It's going to one of the books I add to my library.  Now, can we get a release date for Gemina?!  That would be great!