Illuminae (The Illuminae Files_01) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (2015)
YA Fiction | Sci-Fi
“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.
BRIEFING NOTE: 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.”
pooled ink Review:
This series began ages ago but I only recently decided to give it a try. There’s been a ton of consistent hype around these books so I figured I ought to see what all the fuss is about.
To be honest when the first book came out I wasn’t overwhelmingly interested in the blurb and I wasn’t crazy about the book’s unusual formatting (despite it looking admittedly epic). But hey, time goes by and people change. So, did it exceed expectations?
Well, let’s start off with the unique layout of this book. Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01 is exactly that, a giant stack of files outlaying an exciting tale triggered by the attack on Kerenza, an illegal mining colony. Told via emails, video/audio transcripts, interviews, and other files, we get to follow mostly Kady and Ezra who broke up just before their world ended only to be thrown back together if only to figure out the murky truths behind it all.
Basically this book takes all traditional guidelines for writing a novel and ejects them into space without ceremony. This series does its own thing in format and story, which makes it both refreshing and strange to read. I absolutely think that this was a really cool, ambitious, and creative way to tell a story, especially one that travels around space with warships and hackers galore. But although I think this angle worked for this book in general, and clearly with a large percentage of its readers, it didn’t quite work for me. In the end it became a DNF (unless you count skimming).
And thus it is confirmed that this will be an unpopular opinion post.
*cringes waiting for tomatoes to be thrown*
Look, I thought that the characters were intriguing, strong, and helped structure the story. I also thought that all the graphics and data included in the files were awesome. I mean, I said it already that I thought that the concept for this book was stellar, but hey, for whatever reason it failed to engage me.
I haven’t read any of Kaufman’s books, but I have read Nevernight by Kristoff and really liked it. I tend to be a bit particular about science fiction though, and I do think that this book’s plot was exhilarating and cool and refreshingly edgy, but in the end, as nifty as I thought the formatting was it didn’t work for me. Cool idea, but it ended up being a barrier keeping me from falling into the story. Everything felt exciting, but distant. I kept feeling bored or distracted and basically just kept reading (and sometimes skimming) to know what happens and to finish it for a review.
But who knows? Maybe I’ll try again in a year and I’ll fall in love with it.
I know most of you guys who have read this book/series are massive fans and I’m totally happy for you because there’s no better feeling than finding a book that can take your breath away and launch your imagination into incredible places. I wish I felt the same way, but I guess I can’t love them all. BUT if you haven’t read this book, then I’d still encourage you to give it a try if you’re a fan of sci-fi because so many people love this series, the authors are awesome, it’s gritty and exciting, and it just might become your favorite too.
Purchase here: Illuminae
Meet Amie Kaufman!
Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Illuminae (with Jay Kristoff) and These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, and Their Fractured Light (with Meagan Spooner.) She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping.
She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.
Meet Jay Kristoff!
Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, THE ILLUMINAE FILES and THE LOTUS WAR. He is the winner of four Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over thirty countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are. He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.
He does not believe in happy endings.