Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Book One of the Illuminae Files series
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
If you saw my updates on either Goodreads or Twitter, you probably noticed that I sounded almost reluctant to admit that I liked this book. Don't get me wrong! I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. I've also had an ARC for months. But many people have read it by now, and the hype was killing me. So when I finally got to this book in my review schedule, I was scared. I didn't want to read it as much anymore. Plus, it is HUGE (600 pages). I'm fine with 400-450. But 600+? I don't have time for that. Luckily, this book proved to be an exception in every way!
Kady and Ezra's home planet has been invaded by BeiTech, a megacorporation that has been illegally exploiting resources from the planet. Kady is evacuated on one ship (the Hypatia), ad Ezra is evacuated on another (the Alexander). Ezra is conscripted as soon as he turns eighteen, and is trained to be a pilot - Second Lieutenant Ezra Mason. Meanwhile, Kady uses her computer and systems skills to hack into the data systems of the Hypatia and Alexander to figure out what is going on, what the General and Captain aren't telling the refugees. Kady and Ezra are up against biological warfare, surprise attacks, and speedy pursuit of the megacoporation, but nothing is going to stop either of them from trying to make it out alive.
The most fascinating and unique about this book is the way it's presented. It's not a typical narrative, in which one person (or two or three or six) tell a story, in present or past tense. This story is told via hacked documents, security footage, incognito chat logs, classified messages, etc. At first, I was like, this isn't going to be that interesting. I need a narrative! I need to know what the protagonist is thinking, feeling, and so on! The thing is, this mode of storytelling is quite genius. Kaufman and Kristoff did a flawless job of putting together the documents and messages into a clear and engaging story. It's so cool how it is done!
Kady is a unique character in YA lit. Yes, she is your typical spunky chick, overly feisty and fierce and whatnot (not EVERY girl is like that...). But she's also incredibly antisocial (not a team player at all), a bit awkward, nerdy, sarcastic. She is used to getting her way, and breaks up with Ezra because he told her no to something she wanted. I didn't like Kady at first (I thought she was conceited), but I ended up liking her a lot. Putting her in life-or-death situations really changes a person, especially when you're up to your eyeballs in dead or crazy people, contaminated breathing air, and lies.
I love Ezra. He is the perfect amount of cocky, self-confident, goofy, and honest. He is a massive guy (6'5''), an athlete, and a sweet person. He loves Kady, and he is crushed when she breaks up with him. Even when they're on two different evacuation ships, Ezra never stops trying to contact Kady. Kady ignores him for months, but Ezra keeps messaging her, I love his resilience, his attitude towards most things, his protective side. He has so many issues to work through during this story. I just want to give him a hug!
The book takes place over months. Literally the months just roll by after Ezra and Kady get evacuated, and it's made known by how quickly Ezra's birthday comes up, and then by how quickly he becomes a pilot. We know the timing of everything because there is a countdown to when the ship that is pursuing them - the BeiTech ship - will intercept them. The countdown is a good feature of this book, and very nerve-wracking!
This book is full of twists and turns, surprises and good foreshadowing. It's 600 pages and there are lots of shenanigans and general craziness that happens. A disease has been released within the refugees (while they were still on the planet), a system on the Alexander has gone haywire, and the refugees are definitely being kept in the dark about many things. Kady is on the Hypatia trying to figure out what is going on, and how to tackle the haywire system problem. Ezra is simply trying to survive, as he has had to engage in nasty military activity. The plot is very engaging, you will not be too bothered by the length of the book.
The world-building of this novel is stunning! Again, you'd think it would be hard to convey this through emails and chat logs and security logs and records. But it's all about the simple phrases, the matter-of-fact remarks, that the difference. There aren't necessarily large chunks of details about things. So you have to pay attention to nuances!
The romance consists of the exes - Kady and Ezra. As you can imagine, the made of storytelling isn't going to be very demonstrative of physical chemistry and romance. However, Kaufman and Kristoff write in subtleties. Even though they broke up, Kady and Ezra know they aren't done with each other. And throughout the story, there are so many funny and cute and sweet moments between these two. You have to read to the end of this book to figure out what happens to them!
And of course, in general! The ending is heartbreaking, yet perfect. I absolutely love the ending, though I feel like there is a part of the ending that is just totally dropped into the book (like, the reason for the book's title, for one). But I am quite satisfied with the ending. Until the next book!
What I Did Not Like:
The ending, as I mentioned, has that one thing that is totally just plopped in. I feel like that part of the ending could have been more worked into the story. There is one TINY hint in the book (when I read it, I was like, yup, this is going to reappear at some point, if Ezra made such a big deal about it), but I think it could have been more of A Thing in the story. The origin of the book's title, at the very least.
Loooong, this book was long. While I read the book fairly quickly, it was still, well, long. This is a con for me because I just do not have that kind of time! I recognize that this is entirely an Alyssa problem.
Would I Recommend It:
Science fiction fans (like myself!) - you will enjoy this one! It reminded me of Beth Revis's Across the Universe series. Stuck on a ship that is filled with lies and crazy people. Or something. This book is so thorough and well-put-together, and despite its length, it's a very entertaining story. Very heartbreaking at times, yet so excellent.
3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I liked this book! I'm not sure it will end up in my top ten of 2015 (hence the 3.5-star-rating), but it is definitely one I will have on my mind for quite some time. And I will definitely be getting my hands on the sequel next year, as soon as I (legally) can!
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!
EVERYBODY LOVES THIS BOOK. I want it so bad. AND YOU LIKE IT! You, who was reluctant to admit it. *le sigh* Great review!ReplyDelete
RIGHT?! It's such a scary feeling! I was like, FINE, OKAY, I liked the book. :D Thank you so much, Jackie!Delete
I'm terrified of the hype of this book but at the same time I'm excited. Kady sounds like she could be a tough character for me, but it's good to know before going in. I do really like the sound of Ezra! I hope I'll like this one as well, Alyssa!ReplyDelete
It's really nerve-wracking, when everyone seems to like it! I hope you enjoy it if/when you read it, Nick.Delete
You got my attention when you mentioned the unorthodox storytelling method. I really want to give it a go, now.ReplyDelete
Yaaasss. It is so cool! I hope you like this book, Sophia!Delete
I've been avoiding the hype around this book for months! I'm finally going to read this one next week so hopefully it'll live up to all of the hype!ReplyDelete
I know exactly what you mean! I really hope you love the book, Amber. ^_^Delete
Oh the hype and the big book! I'm glad to hear you still enjoyed this guy! I'm really looking forward to this, and happy to hear it's so unique! Erza sounds awesome! Can't wait to get my hands on this!ReplyDelete
Great review, Alyssa!
Massive book! It's a brick! I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Cyn. :DDelete
Thank you so much!
I'm glad you really liked it! I absolutely adored it and I'm itching for a re-read now!!! And of course... dying for the sequel!!ReplyDelete
Thank you! You totally should reread it right now. ;)Delete
I just finished this one yesterday and loved it! I was kind of iffy about the narrating method but I ended up really liking it. So excited to see what comes next. Great review!ReplyDelete
YAY! I'm glad you loved it, Richa! Thank you so much. <3Delete
3.5 stars doesn't seem too bad.. I have a copy of this, I love the cover but I'm not a huge fan of the files method. Oh well, atleast you enjoyed it for the most part <3 Benish | Feminist ReflectionsReplyDelete
It was great! I absolutely adore the cover. I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Benish!Delete
Long, with a not so great ending, but still good... I shall read it!ReplyDelete
No the ending was okay! Just... surprising. Definitely a first-in-the-series ending. I hope you enjoy it, Liza!Delete
Gorgeous review Alyssa. <3 But aw, I'm sorry you didn't love the book :( But so so glad that you liked the book a lot at least :D YAY for loving some parts. <3 I just loved all of it, lol. But I understand why you had some issues, even if I don't agree, lol :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it sweet girl. <3ReplyDelete
I liked it well enough though! Hehe, I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, Carina. Thank YOU!Delete
I'm glad you liked this for the most part! I thought it was so original the way it was written - it made the 600+ pages just fly by for me. Plus I really loved both Ezra and Kady - they make an awesome couple.ReplyDelete
Great review, friend!
It was interesting to see how Ezra and Kady's relationship blossomed in this book, right? Completely without narrative. Love!Delete
Thank you, Danielle!
Oh man, I was terrified to read this because of the hype (and b/c of the page count, too haha (but I finally read it!). I loved Ezra! He's just hilarious. And Kady and Ezra together, so adorbs. Glad you did enjoy this book! Can't wait for book two. Awesome review!ReplyDelete
I just posted my review if you're interested!
Right?! I was worried too! I can't wiat to read Gemina. So happy that you loved this one, Cyn!Delete
I just finished this one which has been in my kindle for a while. I didn't think I would be able to follow the story with how it's written in pieces of documentation but amazingly I was able to follow it. So creatively written. It reminds of the Sabine & Griffin Trilogy (where the story is written through actually letters thus not a traditionally written story.) But of course this is a sci fi book and boy was it very sci fi. I had a little trouble following all the tech lingo but it didn't deter me from reading it to the end and what an ending! That was the best part! Kady is such a bada**. I'm kind of confused though.. was the whole book literally sent to Ezra's mom as part of a contract she was hired to do? How much time elapsed since she was rescued and their email? Now I need to read book 2. And based on your review of that book, you also enjoyed it! Thanks for recommending it!ReplyDelete
That was one of my concerns too - that this wouldn't read quite like a story and I'd get confused! But the authors did a really great job with this.Delete
I'm not sure about that part (re: Ezra's mom) - I don't remember that quite well, so I'm not sure. Perhaps reread that and see if anything gets clearly.
Book two was really great! I think I liked Illuminae more, but I enjoyed both books a lot. =)
You're very welcome!