Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Illuminae Files #1)


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff // VBCIlluminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published: Oct. 20, 2015 (Alfred A. Knopf)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Amanda

Rating (out of 5): 5 stars

This is going to be a difficult review to write, because all the words I have are either a) of the four letter variety or b) unintelligible. Just picture me sitting on the couch, book clutched in my hands, wide-eyed, babbling nonsense with the occasional “&!#@” thrown in for spice.

In sum: This book scared me, tore me apart, and put me back together.

Kady dumped Ezra in the morning, and in the afternoon they find themselves under attack from BeiTech, a megacorporation. Their planet is destroyed. They’ve got nothing but the clothes on their backs. They’re two of the thousands lucky enough to find refuge on the rescue fleet, but from the very beginning, they don’t feel very lucky. With a dreadnought (or war ship) giving chase, a deadly virus mutating and threatening to wipe out the remaining population, and an AI developing a twisted and absolutely insane personality, lucky is not the word to describe them. Walking dead might be a better term.

Look at all the examples we’ve been given of AI. None of them are good. HAL (2001: A Space Odyssey) refused orders. The Cylons (Battlestar: Galactica) decided to blow up the colonies because they were mad at the humans. Don’t even get me started on SkyNet (Terminator). In Illuminae, we have AIDAN, the system designed to protect the crew of the Alexander, only it starts making some…questionable decisions.

Told entirely through transcripts, IM chats, Kady’s journal entries, classified documents, and other ‘found’ information, you’d think that it might be hard to convey the absolute terror running through the fleet. You’d be wrong. Very, very wrong. From the moment they’re evacuated from the planet Kerenza to the last confrontation with the Lincoln (the ship chasing them), I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Every time something good happened, something bad would wipe it out. People die. A lot of people die. BeiTech wants to silence the survivors to keep the truth from coming out. Those survivors are fighting battles on multiple fronts: against the Lincoln and the corporation it represents; against AIDAN and its growing insanity; against themselves.

But it’s a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit that Kady and Ezra never give up. Separated during the evacuation and forced onto different ships, they struggle to repair the damage to their relationship through emails and commandeered chat windows. The physical distance between them becomes painful the more desperate the situation gets. Neither are terribly good with words, but they find them anyway. “I should have been big enough to tell him what he meant to me. Now I get to tell him in 7 minute bursts.”

Illuminae is this breath-stealing, heart-pounding, feels-inducing story that is easily the best book I’ve read all year. It’s a hell of a ride, so buckle up, because this is just the beginning.

Sexual content: none

5 Responses to “Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Illuminae Files #1)”

  1. Amy M says:

    I’m so excited about this book and your review just makes me even more excited. Just got the notification from my library that my copy is in!!!

  2. Amanda says:

    Yay! I love the library. I wanted to read this since I first heard about it almost a year ago, and I am so, so glad it didn’t disappoint.

  3. Heidi says:

    I picked this up at at B&N while waiting for to head to the airport for a flight home. I literally had it clutched in my hand as I raced through O’Hare to make my connecting flight because I didn’t want to put it down. Finished the last page about 10 minutes before the plane touched the ground, and handed it to my daughter as I walked into the house. She’s got it at school today – hopefully she doesn’t get into trouble for reading during class. So, so good.

  4. Amanda says:

    Yes! This is definitely a “read under the desk” book!

  5. Nancy says:

    I listened to the audiobook and it was amazing. The excellent readers added greatly to the story. I am definatley not their demographic and I would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction/fantasy.

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