Book Review: Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. This book redefines what it means to be a book. I need a new thesaurus just to describe my love of this books. AHHH!

5/5 stars!!!

Release date: October 20, 2015

cover illuminae

Amazon Description

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 one of the 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.

My Review Fangirling Mess

I’m having trouble forming complete sentences about this book. I can’t put into coherent words the emotional roller coaster ride that was this books. *draws deep breath* Here goes.

My favorite thing about this book’s premise was the idea of the protagonists being exes. From the first page, the romance is unique and fresh and hilarious, and I wanted to read about that.

Little did I know that this book was going to be so much more than a romance in space. It is science fiction. It is horror. It is a work of graphic design art. It is terrifying and scientific and one-of-a-kind.

I was afraid that the plot was going to be “too much.” I mean, a virus, and artificial intelligence going haywire, and secrets being kept? It could have been a mess of subplots, but it wasn’t. Everything worked together, and what seemed like separate ideas in the synopsis were actually pieces of the same (scary AF) whole.

It’s hard to talk about the plot, because it is so complex. What started as a simple attack on a planet mushroom-clouded (is that a word?) into a web of lies and death and terror. To describe it would be to spoil the surprise, so all that I will say is that the plot is heart-racing, emotionally destructive, and hair-raising.

I read this book over the course of a week and a half, which surprises me looking back on it, because it was really hard to put down. Every time I read it, my heart started pounding and I got legitimately stressed-out. I’m glad that I never read this book at night, because I don’t think I would have been able to sleep.

Ezra and Kady are two of my new favorite characters…ever. Ezra is a classic “good guy” character, the kind of guy you can’t help rooting for. He clearly did not intend to get roped into an intergalactic war–he’d rather stay on his small planet and make cheesy romatic gestures to his girl friend–but he will rise to the occasion when duty calls. He’s got a heart of gold, and I would have myself a new book crush, except that him and Kady are my new OTP and I couldn’t bear to break them up (again…awkward).

Kady is badass to the extreme. She’s a hacker, she’s sassy, she rolls her eyes at romance, she’s reckless and brave, she’s got a problem with authority–I instantly loved her. With every scene that pushed her harder and harder but didn’t break her, I was increasingly impressed by the raw power of her character. (Wow that sounds cheesy…)

What puts this book in a class of its own is the graphic design. The idea of Illuminae is that it is a dossier of compiled files from the aftermath of the attack. But the graphic designer (seriously, who was that person? They deserve a medal) took this original concept and ran with it, taking it as an opportunity to tell a story in a way I’ve never read before. The way that the words were arranged on the pages quadrupled the emotional impact of each scene. Rarely was there a time when I got to a new section of the dossier and didn’t say “wow.” I would put in examples (I’m dying to put in examples) but most of them would be spoilers. Suffice to say that this book doesn’t just create an incredibly graphic and heart-wrenching story, but it also uses graphic design to slam the story straight into your heart.

The ending of this book had me in tears. I was laughing with joy and crying with sadness simultaneously. The series of reveals in the last third of the book were all shocking and tear-inducing. I NEED the next book (and book one isn’t even out yet…fangirl pain).

I recommend this book for basically everyone. This is the kind of book that sticks with you. The kind of book that redefines what “incredible” means. The kind of book you shove into other people’s hands with abandon.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House for giving me a copy of this book at SDCC 2015! This in no way affected my review.

10 thoughts on “Book Review: Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. It’s so true that it’s nearly impossible to describe. I recommended it to my cousin and she asked me what it was about and I couldn’t really think of what to say. There’s just so much but the reveals happening in a certain order is what makes it so good. I basically told her just go get it from the library. She said, “what about my Kindle?” and I was all, “no no, this must be experienced in physical book format”. Just so good. One of my favorites of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that it would be a completely different experience in the ebook format rather than paper. Everything is hard to describe (as you said) but the role that the graphic design plays in the storytelling struck me add incredibly unique.
      Glad you liked the book!

      Liked by 1 person

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