Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: 20th October, 2015
Blurb via Goodreads:
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.
A book I initially picked out due to the rave reviews and it’s vibrant and intriguing colour, ‘Illuminae’, co-authored by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, has fought itself into my top reads of all time. The most notable stand-out feature of this book is the way the story is told – through a dossier of files, reports and chat archives. I found this to be very unique and something that I have never encountered in a book before. Although, the format was rather confusing to begin with, but became increasingly easier to follower as the plot progressed.
The heroine of the novel, Kady Grant, case across at first as a typical moody teenager and Ezra Mason, the hero (?) as a cringy macho man with a heart. From these descriptions, it’s easy to guess that I didn’t warm to the main characters automatically. I think this is less the fault of the characterisation and instead can be put down to the more distant view we get of the characters at the start of the book.
Fortunately, both Ezra and Kady did end up growing on me. Ezra showed himself as a witty character, providing comic relief to break up the often hyper-tense action scenes, which my racing heart grew to be very thankful for.
It was Kady, though, that really stole the show for me. She was a relentless machine of female badassery, adding her own dry humour to the book. I found myself empathising with her extremely deeply and even shouting at the pages when I felt a decision she had made was particularly rash or endangering.
The other main player in ‘Illuminae’ was of course AIDAN, the damaged AI of the warship Alexander, who it seems has begun to develop emotions for itself. Even prior to reading this I was weary of fictional AI with human sounding names, so when AIDAN was first introduced I was highly suspicious and went all squinty eyes. Of course he did end up being evil, or just confused by emotion depending on how you choose to perceive him. I appreciated greatly how Kaufman and Kristoff managed the feat of making AIDAN computer-like and emotional simultaneously.
Lastly, the real thing that secured ‘Illuminae’ as a new favourite were the plot twists, because there 👏🏻 were 👏🏻 so 👏🏻 many 👏🏻. It was like I was watching a lipsync on RuPaul’s Drag Race and a drag queen comes through with seven separate wig reveals. Usually when authors try and pull off this many plot twists, they end up becoming predictable and somewhat irritating – but not here. The twists we’re genuinely earthshaking in magnitude and managed to pull on my heartstrings so much I felt like I was going to explode.
Between the plot twists, lovable characters and unique narrative form, ‘Illuminae’ is a dynamic and action-packed read not for the light-hearted. It is the first in a trilogy and I cannot wait to read the next in the series, ‘Gemina’.
‘Illuminae’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff receives a rating of 5/5 stars from the How To Read Books Blog.