Hey guys, what’s up, welcome back to another Blogtober post! Today I’m bringing you a review! This is the first review I have done in a long time so it’s honestly about time I wrote one! I also read Illuminae a few months ago and I have been meaning to write this review for a while and just have not gotten round to it yet so I hope I can give you my authentic opinion about this novel rather than trying to regurgitate other people’s opinions as I try to remember how I felt about this book while reading it. Let’s get at it!
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2015
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.
It would be wrong for me to say that I fell in love with this book from the get go. The opening is so action packed and interesting that I thought I was falling head over heels for this story in the first few pages. The world was enticing and exciting, the characters seemed super deep and compelling. But for the next hundred or so pages I found that I couldn’t connect with the story. When reading the first half of the novel I really wanted to love this book and I think my eagerness to enjoy it was what pushed me forwards through the difficult parts of this novel. Let’s break it down.
The first thing you may notice about Illuminae is its format. This novel is told through a number of different formats, from emails, transcripts and instant messages. The change hits you right from the beginning and, for me at least, takes some getting used to. I feel like, while I would not change the format for the world, this is why I found it so hard to really connect with the story at first. I was unable to sympathise with the characters as much, especially considering a lot of what we’re reading is very matter of fact. Sure, a story is being told, but for a while it just feels so clinical.
There are some truly stunning and incredibly creative ways of story telling that felt like pure poetry. If you have read the book I am sure you know what I’m talking about, but even the way things have been laid out on the page to look like a ship flying through the air brings another level of complexity and performance to this story.
These are just a few examples of the extraordinary form of story telling Kaufman and Kristoff have implemented and they are truly pieces of art to be admired.
I did enjoy the characters, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t feel like I could truly connect with them. I know this is something that I will develop over the next two books, but I almost felt like something was missing.
Kady is our protagonist but probably the character I liked the least. That’s not to say I didn’t like her, but I am still waiting for something to click and for me to fall in love with her. I know her character has the potential to stand out as one of my favourite characters in any story, but it all depends on where the next two books go.
I love Ezra and he’s probably my favourite character in this story. I wanted more from him and I was always eager to find out what was going on on his side of things. He was funny and charming, but not in that arrogant, annoying way that I too often find in male YA characters.
AIDAN is probably one of the best villains I have read in a long time. He (they? it?) is so delectably creepy I couldn’t ask for me. I honestly have no words to truly describe how incredible this character is and if there is one thing I have gained from reading Illuminae it’s this magnificent characterisation of a villain, stuffed to the top with so much personality, moral dilemmas, a sense of right and wrong, and all from (SPOILER) a computer. AIDAN literally could not be more perfect for this story.
The plot, generally, was rather straight forward and I liked that. The world building and format is so complex that an intricate plot would make the story unreadable. With that being said the simplicity of the plot made it rather dull to begin with. It wasn’t until around the 250 page point that I felt it started to pick up. The exposition was over, we know these characters, we understand what’s going on (ish), we’ve had time to get used to this new way of story telling, now the story really begins and the plot starts to truly drive forwards.
Overall, once I had finished the book I adored the plot. While reading it I was always asking myself why there wasn’t more going on or when things were going to change pace. By the end those questions were thrown out of the window and everything I was questioning was answered, and more.
I feel like it’s important to mention this book as part of the science-fiction genre. I have started to read a lot more science-fiction recently, but this stands out as one of the best. Implementing pieces of technology as story-telling devices is genius. The actual science parts of the book were not contrived and even I could understand. I truly hope this book is recognised for years to come as a pinnacle for this genre as the way the story is told is truly mind-blowing.
I have been doing a little bit of research into this book and I feel like I must mention the audiobook. Personally I did not listen to the audiobook, but after finding a little bit more about it I know that it is something I really want to do. There is a full cast with music and sound effects included, making this seem more like a fully fledged radio drama than a novel. There are so many layers the audiobook has to potential to unfold from this reading and if you enjoy audiobooks I would definitely recommend giving it a go.
If you have a) the time and b) the money I would recommend picking up the physical book and the audiobook because both have features that are entirely unique and I would not want to miss out on one or the other. After finishing the series I definitely plan on going back and listening to all three books as I know it will be an experience of entertainment that will stay with me for a long time.
Overall I gave this book 4 stars. I feel like it definitely is a 5 star book but due to my lack of connection with the characters for so long and the really slow moving plot at the beginning I can’t honestly say that this was a 5 star experience for me. Hopefully I will be ready for the next book and the stark contrast of what I am used to from a novel won’t be as jarring and I will be able to jump right into the world again.
Have you read this book? Do you agree with my thoughts? Do you plan on reading this book?
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Credit to: Cover and Synopsis – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23395680-illuminae