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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I finally read Illuminae! I feel like I’m one of the last people to do it, I’ve seen it everywhere for so long and read heaps of good reviews and I don’t know why but I finally decided to read it. In hindsight, given the subject matter, during a world wide pandemic was probably not the best time to read a book featuring a deadly virus. But oh well! It was still good!

“The universe owes you nothing…It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is if you do something worthy of remembrance.” 

Illuminae follows Kady and Ezra, two teens who have just broken up. And that’s their biggest problem until the illegal mining town the live on, on a distant planet is attacked. Somehow they make it out alive, when so many don’t, onto three escaping ships. One is a military ship that came to aid the planets distress call and the others are civilian ships. All three ships are fleeing the planet, their attackers in hot pursuit and about six months from a portal that will bring them safety.

“All that matters is I love you, and the thought of you safe is the only thing keeping me going” 

But this is not simply a game of running out the clock, and when the military ships AI guns down one of the civilian ships, Kady realises there is more going on than it seems and is on a mission to get to the bottom of it.

This book is one you really have to read in a physical copy as it’s in a very unique style, made up of no dialogue whatsoever. I think that’s what drew me to this story finally. It’s told through all types of mixed media and snippets pulled together into a dossier called the Illuminae files. The files include, interview transcripts, message chats, emails, descriptions of surveillance footage, notes from the collectors of the files, maps and more. It was a little jolting to get used to at first but once I got into the rhythm of it, it was one of the books greatest assets in my opinion. It was a point of difference from your other sci fi teen novels and it made it so interesting. Thinking about all the information that was pulled from a lot of different sources to create this wholistic picture just highlighted how clever and unique this novel was. But it also meant it’s very hard to read and understand as an ebook and I think it would pull you out of the story, more than necessary trying to read it that way.

“Am I not merciful?” 

I loved the characters, especially the AI computer and his black and white world view that becomes more shades of grey the more he interacts with Kady. He reminded me a little bit of Ultron from the Avengers and I have to admit I was definitely reading his voice as James Spader in my head. I have read reviews that said the odd style meant they found it hard to connect with the characters and I do get where that comes from. But for me I still got enough of them to enjoy the book and root for them so I still maintain the style was an asset for me.

“You have me. Until the last star in the galaxy dies, you have me.” 

The novel was pretty well balanced for me, there was enough sci fi, action, humour and heartache to make it feel realistic and not over done. I cared about the characters and what would happen to them. It also didn’t shy away from the hard parts like death, self sacrifice, tough choices and bad people and that grittiness made it so much better than if everyone good had miraculously gotten a happily ever after.

At the end of the day I just found this one so exciting. I was on the edge of my seat worrying about what was going to happen and who was going to live through this disaster. I raced through the massive book, barely putting it down and I’m excited to see what happens next!

I read this for my Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt “a book with a robot, cyborg or AI character”. You can check out my progress here.

2 thoughts on “Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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  1. Great review! It makes me want to re-read Illuminae right now because it’s one of my favourite series. And I agree that it’s best read in physical form. I love the mixed-media format, it’s so unique.


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