Book Review

In Today’s Episode of “WHY DIDN’T I READ THIS SOONER?” — Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff {Book Review}

illuminae-by-amie-kaufman-and-jay-kristoffTitle: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
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

Goodreads link

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!

Favorite quotes:

“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-
-audio ends-”

“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?”

“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.
“True.” Zhang pauses, glancing into the emergency supply cupboard, gaze lingering on something inside. “But I have something you and protozoa don’t.”
“Hands, mother******.”

Have you read Illuminae? What did you think about it?


  1. YAY!!! So glad you got to this and loved it!!! I put it off like you did and was so made I waited so long. Lovely review!!

    1. Haha, yes I totally get that 🙂 I shouldn’t have put it off that long, but on the other hand it’s better late than never, right? 😉

  2. YES I am so happy you loved this book as much as I did. I was soooo nervous just as well before reading this and kept on thinking “what if this is not my thing at all”, but I was pleasantly surprised. I shipped Kady and Ezra SO hard as well haha. Are you reading Gemina soon? Like, in the next weeks?!! I am impatient ahah

    1. Haha, OMG I felt the same way before starting this, but I’m so happy I finally picked it up! Aaah, I am in doubt about starting Gemina. On the one hand, I want to read it ASAP, but on the other hand I want to wait a bit because the wait for Obsidio is still sooo long…. Choices, choices… Did you already read Gemina?

  3. So glad you liked this! And I thought Gemina was even better. I think you’re going to like it. 🙂

    1. I’m super excited to start Gemina! I’m completely sold on this world now 🙂

  4. Eeek! So glad you loved this!! I admit I’ve also got some of the concerns you initially had – the formatting, the sci-fi, no magic, no epic romance – but it’s so encouraging to hear you still loved it 🙂

    Great review! I’m dying to read this one!

    1. Ah, I’m happy I’m not the only one who had these concerns about Illuminae! But of course I still hope you’ll give it a try and that you may end up loving it anyway like I did 🙂

  5. I have read this and OMG YOUR BLOG POST TITLE IS THE BEST! I really enjoyed it but it was a little overhyped for me! Anyway, thanks so much for the review Lindsey and it’s really great to hear you enjoyed it!

    1. Haha, thanks so much 🙂 Yes, I can totally understand how the massive hype could easily harm the reading experience for this one! Too much hype is never good.

  6. Why haven’t I read this yet?? Seriously I need to read this as soon as possible because the whole galaxy loves the book and I think it would be great time to start and prepare for Obsidio 😀 I’m really excited to read a series with such a different format and everything! Great review Lindsey 🙂

    1. Haha, yes I felt like I was one of the last persons in the galaxy who hadn’t read it yet, so I’m happy that I finally read it AND that I liked it as much as I did 🙂 I really hope you’ll enjoy this one just as much as I did!

  7. THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY!!!!!! AHHHHHH. I’M SO GLAD YOU LOVED IT 😀 😀 How amazing was it??? I thought I might not be able to connect with things because of the format but NOPE. I loved everything and everyone SO much. I have a bunch of conflicted feelings about AIDAN too. Like I hate them, but I love them??? I can’t wait to see what you think of Gemina ♥ Great review, Lindsey!!

    1. AHHH I’m so happy I loved it too! I was so scared that I might not like it, but I fell in love pretty quickly 🙂 So glad to hear I’m not the only one with the conflicted AIDAN feelings though! Hope I’ll get more AIDAN in Gemina somehow… guess I’ll find out when I read it 😉

  8. I totally understand what you mean when you say you thought that the format of this book would make it really hard to connect with the characters! I thought the same thing at first. I still thought it until about 1/4 of the way through. This series is just amazing!

    AIDAN is my faaaavourite villain ever. He was terrifying yet so freaking awesome. I’m sure we’ll see him again.

    You definitely have to read Gemina soon! Although the story line is a bit similar, but it’s still so much fun to read. And I love the science in Gemina.

    Awesome review Lindsey! 🙂

    1. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who was skeptical at first and ended up loving it 🙂
      AIDAN is so amazing, I definitely hope we’ll see him again!
      I hope to read Gemina soon, but I also want to wait a bit because the wait for Obsidio is still sooo long 😉
      Thanks so much!

  9. Haha, I am also a total hipster with this. I mean, if people tell me TO READ SOMETHING, I will just not. Eventually, maybe… But yeah. If it’s too popular, it CAN’T be good. Sound logic, huh?

    The thing with me and Illuminae was that I… didn’t even know about it o_o I happened to join the blogging picture just as everyone was going mad about Gemina, so that’s how I found out about Illuminae, and eventually read it. Totally loved it though. Waiting for my Gemina copy currently.

    1. Haha, I can totally understand your logic 😉 But seriously, too much hype can be tricky, so mostly I think it is better to let the hype die down a bit before reading it. I am still super happy I read Illuminae though, as it was worth the hype in my view and I’m looking forward to reading Gemina 🙂

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