Review: Illuminae (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff)

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Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 599
Publication date: November 1, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia, MPH Online

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.

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.


“He presses the triggers. And like roses in his hands, death blooms.”  

Well, this was definitely one interesting read. As much as I wanted to enjoy this, I guess the hype didn’t really reach me for this one. I understand how this book could receive such brilliant reviews and whilst I acknowledge aspects of this book that made it a wonderful read for some, I have to take into account some parts of it that didn’t really suit me.

The Good:

Illuminae is without a doubt known for its unique format. Its unconventional way of story telling is what attracted me to read it in the first place. The story of how the Kerenza invasion was presented in files and documents obtained illegally. It’s not narrated per se, but rather the files you read allows you to piece the information together to form a story. The files consist of interview reports with Ezra & Kady, instant messages between crew members, written reports by fleet or military crew and the Artificial Intelligence (AI)’s server historical data. It’s literally like watching a movie play out in your head as you read these files. It gets a bit difficult to grow accustomed to the format, but once you get that out of the way, Illuminae does get very intense and suspense.

I definitely enjoyed the plot, because of how unpredictable it is in nature. You’ll never really know what secrets you’ll unearth whilst reading this book. And the plot twists are out of this world. Just when I got my heart broken at some point in the story, that ending blew me away. This was quite a good book in the way it grasps your attention.

Also the AI will scare the shit out of you…

“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”  

The Not-So-Good:

For this part, bear in mind it is purely my own personal approach to the book that led me to not fully enjoying Illuminae. Also, I kind of went into this one blinded and I wish I had known how violent and gory it was going to be (Why had no one told me this before??!)

I took this book on a business trip and whilst it made for a good companion on my flights and at night after work, I didn’t particularly enjoy the violent attacks and death scattered in the book like sprinkled sugar on top of a cupcake. When you’re exhausted from days of long hours working, reading about violence, death and lethal Phobos virus really turns you off. This book was so depressing in some parts that I feel like I should completely avoid books like this in the future to preserve my ever-depleting energy.

Also, the relationship between Ezra and Kady didn’t really move me. Their back and forth chats were so high-school-cliched that I couldn’t really relate much with either characters. And it didn’t make much sense to me that Kady was on this mission to uncover Kerenza’s secrets yet she seems entirely smitten by Ezra. He must have one hot bod.

But I have to give credit to the authors for making me sad at that one scene in the book where I felt all hope was lost for Kady. If you’ve read the book you’ll know which scene I’m talking about 😉

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

So those are my thoughts for the critically-acclaimed Illuminae! My thoughts may be a bit unconventional and unpopular but I do hope you enjoy this book more than I did. I’ll be reading Gemina soon and I hope that’ll be a major improvement for me!



One thought on “Review: Illuminae (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff)

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