Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release Date: October 20th, 2015
Standalone/Series: Book 1 in Illuminae trilogy
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
My rating in stars: 5 stars
My rating in words: New all-time favorite
What it’s about:
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.
My thoughts (spoiler-free):
“You have me. Until every last star in the galaxy dies.
You have me.”
So after months and months of people gently reminding me I needed to read this ASAP and me telling them I would but then actually procrastinating another few months… I finally read Illuminae. And I must admit, I kind of started this one verrry reluctantly. Even though half the world was telling me it was amazing. So why was I still so reluctant?
Well, first of all, half the world was telling me it was amazing. The hype is real. So what if I didn’t like it? (I should not have worried – I LOVED IT)
Secondly, I was worried that the unique formatting would make it hard for me to connect to any of the characters. And I love connecting to the characters, caring for them and going through emotions with them. So what if I couldn’t do that? (I should not have worried – I LOVED THESE CHARACTERS.)
Also, I was kind of going in this blindly and thought that maybe sci-fi is not really my thing. I mean, no dragons? No epic romance? No magic? Would I still love this? (I should not have worried. I mean, this book had me shipping like crazy, felt so magical even without actual magic and though there was no dragon, there was a psychotic AI that may have been even cooler than a dragon – but don’t tell them I said that.)
So if you haven’t read Illuminae yet and share some of my worries, please still give it a try. Because it may surprise you as pleasantly as it did me. Here are just a few of the highlights to help convince you.
The unique formatting. The first thing you’ll ever find out about this book is the unique formatting. Told through documents such as interviews, IM’s and military files, it is quite different to read than your average book, but it also really a joy to read. I even splurged to get the hardcover copy, because it’s just all so pretty and I love looking at it, okay?
The characters. The characters are amazing and lovable and even though it is not told in a classic way, you still get such a great feel for these characters. Especially the main characters, Kady and Ezra, who I pretty much immediately fell in love with.
Kady is such a great heroine, a badass hacker who is both tough and vulnerable and witty and OMG I love her and if I ever end up on a zombie-infested space-ship I would want her by my side. Ezra is such a sweet, lovable goof who is not afraid to show his emotions and is just hilarious and such a good guy and I love him so much too.
Also, these two, together? I shipped them so badly, pretty much from the very beginning where they had just broken up and got separated right away. Yep. That’s what this book will do to you.
But don’t get me wrong, they are not even close to being the only two characters to love here. I mean, I loved Byron. I loved McNulty. I loved Chatter. I loved the captains, even when they are making terrible decisions. Basically, I thought I’d have trouble connecting to any of the characters and I ended up connecting to basically all of them, which only spelled bad things for my poor, breakable, little heart. Because these authors love putting their characters through hell. And back. And back again.
AIDAN. Alright, I need to talk about AIDAN separately for a minute here. Because my feelings for AIDAN are weird and complicated and so they deserve a little analysis here. Basically, AIDAN is the artificial intelligence, which suffered some damage during battle and ended up a little psychotic. And slightly evil. He does some things that make me want to either run and hide or shout at random people to just SHUT HIM DOWN ALREADY. But also, I want to hug him? And I kind of love him? Like, I want him and Kady to be a super badass little hacker duo, taking over the world. But I also want Kady to take him down a few notches? Basically, I’m questioning my own sanity. But I still want more AIDAN.
The action-filled and super twisty plot. As I said before, I went into Illuminae almost blind. I knew it had unique formatting, was set in space and featured an evil AI. That’s all. But this story has so much more and I wasn’t expecting that. And there were lots of evil and genius twists and turns and I could only sit there in complete awe while reading, slightly dazed by all the awesomeness. So I’m not going to go deeper into the plot, so you can feel the same awe in case you still have to read this yourself.
The humor. Yes, you heard me right. This sci-fi, action-filled, creepy-as-hell book was funny. Really funny, actually. I felt like the humor was just the right balance with all the death and chaos and tears and mayhem, to help you get through it all.
Seriously, I’m so berating myself for not having picked this one up sooner. I really need to read outside of my comfort zone more often, if it means I could pick up some other gems like this one. I’ll definitely be continuing this story with Gemina as soon as possible!
“Am I not merciful?”
“Interviewer: So. Tell me about your mother.
Ezra: You’re taping this, right?
Interviewer: Audio only. Camera is faulty.
Ezra: Okay, well for the benefit of the sight-impaired, I am now raising my… oh, dear… yes, it’s my MIDDLE finger at Mr. Postgrad here.
Interviewer: Mr. Mason…
Ezra: Now I’m wiggling it.
Interviewer: Terminating interview at 13:58 on 03/19/75.
Ezra: Look at it wiggl-
“Most people would say I’m pretty cold, but I think of it more as…private. People are always saying “how are you?” to each other, and I guess I don’t see why I should answer such a personal question for just anyone.”
“Um, because you’re loopier than Flacky McPsycho, Mayor of Crazytown?”
“My databases show no record of this Crazytown of which you speak. A brain the size of an entire city burns inside me. My intelligence quotient is beyond the human scale. I would prefer if you did not refer to me in such a fashion.”
“Oh, poor baby. Did I hurt the mass-murdering psychopathic artificial intelligence’s feelings?”
“YOU CANNOT IMAGINE YOU ARE IN A POSITION TO EFFECT A SHUTDOWN, BYRON.”
“Can’t I?” Zhang’s eyes are wide now, gleaming with something new—a kind of madness to match the computer’s. Not the look you want to see on the face of an enemy as intelligent as this one.
“DID WE NOT ESTABLISH THIS DURING YOUR FAILED ATTEMPTS ON THE BRIDGE? YOU CANNOT HOPE TO MATCH ME. MY COMPUTATIONAL POWER IS ALMOST INCALCULABLY SUPERIOR TO YOURS. TO ONE SUCH AS MYSELF, YOU ARE THE INTELLECTUAL EQUIVALENT OF A PROTOZOA.”
“True.” Zhang pauses, glancing into the emergency supply cupboard, gaze lingering on something inside. “But I have something you and protozoa don’t.”
“AND THAT IS?”