Review for Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman!
Quick View Review
Characters: *** (3/5)
Plot: **** (4/5)
Writing Quality: ***** (5/5)
Amazon Rating: **** (4.5/5)
Flash forward 560 years from now. It’s 2575, and you live on the tiny mining planet of Kerenza VII. You’re Kady Grant, and on one completely normal morning, you dump your boyfriend Ezra and head to class. Soon after, your planet is invaded by a mega-corporation intent on killing Kerenza’s citizens and taking control of the valuable resources. You, along with the other surviving citizens, are forced to evacuate during the attack after having watched some of your family and friends die. Not only are you forced to leave your home behind forever, but your ships are undersized and understocked. With a long journey ahead of you, you have nothing to do but attempt to uncover secrets, make a new friend aboard the ship, and attempt to solve the pressing issue of the corporation’s biggest ship trailing you to eradicate all witnesses. Meanwhile, a deadly disease is dangerously spreading, the artificial intelligence aboard the biggest of your ships has gone rogue, and Ezra’s feelings don’t seem to have been affected by your breakup. Can you juggle the chaos and save the fleet? Because you might just be the citizens’ only shot.
Told in a series of emails, chat conversations, various forms of reports, and other documents, this book is one of the most unique reads I have ever had the pleasure of picking up. I must admit, I did judge this book a little by its cover. (I mean, how could I not? The hardcover version is just beautiful!) Anyway, that first impression made me expect something truly mind-blowing (along with the format that had me wondering how in the world this book would be even comprehensible), and although the book was well-done and mostly understandable, it didn’t quite reach my favorites shelf.
Although the format was absolutely one-of-a-kind, I felt it took away one of my favorite parts of reading: truly getting to know the characters and hearing their perspectives. I felt like the character I knew best was AIDAN (the artificial intelligence) because I got to hear his inner “thoughts” and know his feelings at every twist and turn of his 15 minutes of fame during the book. Kady came in close second, though. Her diary entries allowed the reader to hear her inner fears and I loved getting to see her weaker and softer side; although these dark pages of goodness (you’ll see what I mean ;)) only really appeared in the beginning of the novel, and I missed seeing these feelings evolve as the plot thickened. Ezra, however, I didn’t feel like I knew at all. I felt like I should’ve been getting the classic fictional crush that I am SO susceptible to being affected by, but it just never came. Yes, his romantic IMs almost did the job, but I just didn’t think they were enough; I wanted to know his fears and weaker/softer side just like I saw Kady’s (although he doesn’t really seem like the type to keep a diary).
The plot, albeit being quite confusing at times, was exciting and amazingly creative. I mean, how do these authors come up with these genius ideas?! This book, similar to everything written by James Dashner, was a total page-turner and had me racing to get to the last page and I finished it within a matter of days DURING FINALS WEEK even though it was 600 pages (yes, I know, I’m a terrible procrastinator, but my weakness is page-turners). Every “chapter” was a climax and every turn of the story involved some sort of heart-racing action, which made this particular novel REALLY hard to put down.
The writing was the one part of this book that was flawless in my opinion. I honestly could never tell the differences in the writing styles of the two authors, so either they’re literal writing twins or they did an incredible job melding their styles together (what I think was the case). I loved the suspense they built up throughout the novel, and they possess an expertise for action scenes similar to the talents of James Dashner.
Overall, although this book was lacking in character development and was slightly difficult to understand at some parts, it was 600 pages of suspenseful and action-packed amazingness. The format definitely made this book completely unique, but the creativity of the plot absolutely added to the greatness that is the Illuminae files. If you haven’t guessed already, I mostly recommend this novel to fans of James Dashner (so the Maze Runner, Eye of Minds, etc.). People interested in computer science will also definitely enjoy this book, but in general, if you’re looking for a book packed with intelligence that you won’t be able to put down, then Illuminae is definitely the book for you.
Make sure to come back next Wednesday for a new review!