ARC Review: Illuminae

illumTitle: Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Romance
Source: ARC (thank you, Knopf Books!)
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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.

Yes, I stayed up until the early morning hours to finish this book.
No, I don’t have any regrets.

F—— brilliant.

How do I even review this masterpiece of a book? Because that’s exactly what this is – a visual, visceral, stimulating, awe-inspiring masterpiece. My brain is receiving only < error > messages. There’s too much to tell and to convey, and I don’t think I’m the right woman for the job.

But I’ll give it a try.

By now I’m sure you’re aware of the hype surrounding Illuminae. Even without the early reviews shouting its greatness, this book would have been a huge hit. Emphasis on huge because the size is one thing – it’s a massive book with over 600 pages – but the breadth and scope of what co-authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff accomplish is beyond any praise I could come up with. Illuminae is truly epic in every sense of the word.

It’s the year 2575, and Kady and Ezra’s home planet has just been attacked by the mega-corporation Beitech. They are forced to flee onto separate spacecrafts, and what follows is a race across space to make it safely out of Beitech’s reach. But it’s not long before Kady realizes something more sinister is at work, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of it.

We have —

*A space setting, as big and vast and lonely and beautiful as you can imagine.
*A mass-spreading and mutating virus that causes victims to go insane. The phrase “Don’t look at me” will be a haunting refrain in your mind for weeks after you finish.
*A corporate conspiracy involving bio-weaponry and the suppression of any and all data related to the incident.
*AIDAN, the artificial intelligence programed into the spaceship, who decides the humans don’t know what the hell they’re doing so, for their own protection, takes control.
*A romance that is the beating heart and soul of this book. You feel Kady and Ezra’s longing as it’s stretched across space and time.
*Kickass characters whose personalities shine. Kady, Ezra, and the other supporting characters are all complex and compelling, you’ll root for some while others will test your limits for understanding and forgiveness. The emotions, the conflict, the anxiety are so great because you truly care about these people.
*And, last but not least, the unconventional format in which the story is told. It’s a visual feast, a collection of hacked documents including emails, Wikipedia-like logs, diary entries, IMs, transcripts, video reports, and diagrams. This is a book you absolutely want to own physically, as opposed to electronically. It’s told in a linear fashion, but having both visual and textual clues is such a thrilling and unique way to tell this story. It adds layers of mystery and suspense and amps up the creepy and sinister factors.

There’s not much more I need to say other than: READ THIS BOOK. Kady and Ezra are such amazing characters, and though we’re never really “inside their heads” I felt such a strong connection to them. Kady is a fierce girl, intelligent and clever and seemingly fearless, but she’s also got a huge heart. In the beginning of the book her and Ezra had just broken up, but it’s clear how much she still loves him and wants to be with him. Their exchanges over IM were my favorite part of the book, definitely. I was shipping them like crazy. And Ezra is a great complement to her – funny, down to earth, sarcastic, and protective. The book, for me, was all about how they were going to make it back to each other. Of course, there’s a lot more going on, and Illuminae like any epic story will make you think about life and what it means to be human. All the while your heart will be racing (and breaking) and you’ll be furiously flipping the pages to find out what the outcome will be.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It deserves all the hype it’s been getting and more. I can’t wait to have the finished copy sitting gloriously on my shelf.

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12 thoughts on “ARC Review: Illuminae

  1. I had so much fun reading this one! I also turned into a very unattractive cussing sailor. Haha! I don’t think I’ve ever cussed so much as I was while reading this one.
    But omg the freaking twists and turns. Especially at the end with AIDAN when he made that revelation. I nearly died. I’m pretty sure Wendy was annoyed with all my screeching texts to her. I can’t wait to read book 2! :)
    Lovely review, Danielle!

  2. Yes yes yes yes. <3 Stunning review Danielle :D SO HAPPY that you loved this precious book too. I loved it to pieces :D SO GOOD. I am dyyyying for the sequel. So thrilled it was a five star for you as well :) Agree with most of what you say. <3 Hugs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts :)

  3. Danielle I’m thrilled to see that this was such a winner of a book for you. I love the sound of the unique concept and you know me I adore my books which keep me up until the wee hours of the morning. I wish I was able to love it as much the first time I picked it up, but I will definitely be giving it another go soon! Lovely review! :)

  4. I loved this book too, it was AMAZING!!! And I got my finished copy yesterday, it was so hard to read it on my computer so I wanted a real copy. Plus I plan on rereading it now that I know what I know. Cannot wait for the next one, but I do love that it ended in a good place, no cliffhanger. Have you read his Stormdancer series? It’s so good! Great review!

  5. I got this one from BEA and I know I’m behind on reading it, since everyone else with an ARC read it ages ago it seems. haha Regardless, I will read it ASAP. I love books told in unconventional formats and this one sounds fantastic overall. I’m really glad to hear you loved this one. It deserves to be bought in physical format for sure – I’ve seen a lot of the pages flipping through and it’s beautiful.


  6. I just picked this one up as well and I love it so much! I’m about halfway through and I really admire the artistic talent behind the book, telling the story in such an unconventional way. It’s like a work of art! Lovely review Danielle!

  7. I totally agree with you! Everything about this book just screams “genius” and “insane amounts of blood, sweat and tears”. I mean, seriously, I have NO idea how they did this. It’s a fabulous story on its own, which is hard enough- but then add in everything else, and oh my goodness, this is a labor of love. All the science stuff, and the documents, and making it all fit into place while still telling a story and somehow still connecting to the characters AND still being emotionally charged… I don’t even understand this sorcery. I feel like I need to buy this book for everyone I know for two reasons: One, it’s awesome. Two, I want to give the authors ALL the money and recognition, because my goodness, they deserve it. Fabulous review, Danielle! I am so glad you loved this one too!

  8. “a visual, visceral, stimulating, awe-inspiring masterpiece. ” YES. Gosh this book gives me chills just thinking about it. It is completely unique and completely epic and no book will ever surpass it in those two categories lol. But I think your review did it justice!

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