Finished reading on 7th November – review written 8th November.
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series Status: The 1st book in The Illuminae Files trilogy
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Number of Pages: 599
(Found on 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.
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.
Since I’ve been wanting to get into SciFi more lately, when I saw this book absolutely everywhere, I wanted to give it a go. I was hesitant at first, since I didn’t know if it would turn out to be one of those books where the science aspect is overwhelming, but after hearing about the formatting, I blazed full steam ahead.
And let me just say this, as a person who usually reads an average of 100 pages a day, I read 500 pages of this book in one day just to finish it. Now that doesn’t happen very often. There’s not many books that can keep me hooked for 500 pages straight.
I LOVED the formatting! The story is told through a series of emails, images, interviews, military documents…I could go on. I remember wanting to read on just to find out how the next page was set out. It was almost impossible to put the book down when you turn the page and find the words scattered all around into another shape. Or a floor plan showing all the dangers on board the ship. Or a countdown to when danger strikes. Anyway, you get the idea. There would often be times where you physically have to turn the book sideways or upside down to read the writing. And for some reason I loved that. It just gives something else to the reading experience.
As I said before, I was slightly worried that the science aspect would just confuse me. It didn’t at all. Although scientific terminology is used, it’s not overwhelming or just thrown at you, so it’s quite easy to follow. Throughout the book the vocabulary switches between being scientific and formal, to informal chatter between friends. I think this – paired with the formatting – created some interesting perspectives.
It was a complex story line, almost as if a web of problems had been built and you gradually untangled them as you read through. Just when you think there may be a solution to a problem – BAM another issue comes along and knocks that all out of scale. It was quite a convincing story. I could imagine something like that genuinely happening in the far future. There isn’t anything unbelievable that happens. The technology they use doesn’t always work. Not everybody miraculously survives in the middle of a war zone. And although these things aren’t good, they almost make the story true.
I’ve seen a few people say that you don’t get as close to the characters in this book than you would with other, and I do have to agree with that. Because the format is laid out as a set of files, you are sort of detached from what the characters are thinking and feeling. I don’t see this as a huge problem though, because I think it adds to the feeling that your reading a case file. And even though you don’t get as attached to the characters, there were moments I genuinely felt like sobbing when reading messages from random people who thought they would die soon. You don’t always have to be attached for the emotions to hit.
I think the ending was a nice touch. If a few of the last pages weren’t written, it could have easily been a standalone novel. But the last few pages hint to another problem looming ahead, instantly making me want the next book right now. Also, it made me realize that I want to know the background of the main characters. So that’s something to look forward to!
I do think this was a great book for me to read, as someone wanting to get into SciFi more. It was addictive and really fast paced, with you flicking through pages a lot more quickly than you would a normal book (because of the formatting).
Rated 4.5//5 stars!
I would happily recommend this book to anybody with even the slightest interest in SciFi. However, I would also recommend buying a physical copy of the book, instead of an E-book, because some of the formatting uses double paged spreads, and I’ve heard a lot of people claiming it just doesn’t work that well in E-book form.