A mostly Young Adult book review blog run by a mother and daughter team.
I need to start this review off by just saying that Annie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae is unlike anything that I have ever read before. From the plot to the actual storytelling—everything about Illuminae is unique. There wasn’t a moment spent while reading this novel where I wasn’t on the edge of my seat and completely into it. This book is everything. Honestly, if you don’t give it a read, you are missing out on something great.
Set in the year 2575, when Kady breaks up with her boyfriend Ezra, the very last thing she expects is for her planet to get invaded by a megacorporation that is interested in starting a war. Narrowly managing to escape on a fleet of ships, both Kady and Ezra find themselves trying to outrun a warship—the Lincoln—that is dead-set on leaving behind no survivors. The threat the warship poses is nothing compared to the threats that are beginning to appear onboard the ships Copernicus, Alexander, and Hypatia. A deadly airborne virus has begun to infect survivors, leaving them feral and bloodthirsty. And the Alexander’s AI, the only thing that can save them from the oncoming warship, is showing malicious intentions. For Kady and Ezra, safety and survival have never been so far away, and there’s no telling if they’ll make it.
I loved this book.
I cannot emphasize how much I love this book. I had my doubts before reading (because the few things I’d read about it were nothing but people raving about how fantastic it was), but now I can tell you with complete and total honesty that this book is just amazing. The way that Illuminae’s story is told is unique and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There is no typical first person or third person point of view where everything is told through chapters of prose. Illuminaeis told through transcripts of conversations, IMs, documents detailing videos from security cameras, and other ‘found’ footage. It takes a bit of time getting used to, yes, but the way that Kaufman and Kristoff present the story is immersive and innovative.
The way that the story is told makes Illuminae all the more haunting to read. Readers will feel like they’re reading something that actually happened, something that was real, making Illuminae something forbidden to them. It’s a story that leaves you on the edge of your seat, hoping that your favorite characters make it to the very end and unscathed. There were far too many moments where I was left with a horrible feeling in my stomach as I watched some of my faves meet their utter demises.
The protagonists of the novel, Kady and Ezra, are both such flawed characters. They feel very real when you read their interactions with one another and the other characters in the plot. Even though they’re both exes, you can watch as they begin to fall back in touch with one another, and readers will wonder if there’s hope for their romance yet. Will they be able to get back together even though Kady is on the Hypatia and Ezra is on the Alexander? We just do not know, but there’s hope.
In the end, Illuminae is a novel that I’m going to end up holding on very closely to my heart. It’s been too long since I’ve read something as truly unique asIlluminae. The stakes are raised with every single new piece of information that’s offered to us. The characters are all amazing. The storytelling is on point. Nothing is ever what it seems, and I’ve shed far too many tears on the pages of this ARC. It’s with great excitement that I await the next installment to The Illuminae Files. I know only greatness will come from these stories.
I would recommend Illuminae to just about anyone. Fans of sci-fi, romance, action, adventure—whatever—Illuminae has it all. If you want a storyline that will suck you in and keep you flipping pages until the very end, then you’d best get reading.