Illuminae (The Illuminae Files book 1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (book review)

December 31, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘Illuminae’ is the first in a trilogy of books called ‘The Illuminae Files’ that all take place during the same period of time but have different main protagonists. They are all told in a very unique fashion, as they are made up of files that have been hacked and take the form of emails, IM chats, military reports, medical reports, etc. At no point do you simply read a story in the traditional sense of the word.

In ‘Illuminae’, we’re following two main characters, Ezra and Kady, who just happen to break off their relationship on the same day their mining planet is attacked and destroyed. They escape on a small fleet of spaceships trying to make their way to the nearest jump station in order to try and make it home. Unfortunately, a deadly plague has also jumped onto this fleet along with the humans making this a race against time story to see who will survive long enough to make it. Oh and the AI on one of the ships, which is meant to be protecting the humans, might have other plans up its disturbingly trigger happy sleeves.

First things first, I’m not really a reader of SF, so this was a leap out of my comfort zone and I’ve never read a book that is told completely in the form of hacked files, so another leap out of my comfort zone. I was hoping that this leap would prove to have an enjoyable landing given the hype surrounding this book and…I was right! I really enjoyed this book to the point where I went out on a search to purchase the next one straight after finishing this one.

We are thrown straight into this story as we go from following Ezra and Kady to school one morning and their planet gets attacked, which means we have to follow them as they try and escape while not knowing what is happening to their families. To be honest, the pacing really does not let up at any point from the very beginning of the book. I’m very glad this story was told the way it was as I don’t think my heart could have stood it if it was told in a more traditional way. This way the book raced by, at a much faster pace, so what should have taken me a good few days to read only really took one. The things that go on during this book are so intriguing, scary and just thoroughly compelling that you have to keep reading, oh and probably exclaiming ‘No!’ at certain points as well.

Although the whole book is told in the form of hacked files, I found myself really empathising with all the characters, even those that were background had fully fleshed out back stories. I found myself fully ugly crying at so many points when people died or there were just highly emotional points. It really is odd to find yourself in tears while reading a combat report that is how good these writers are. As readers of the files, we could see certain things coming way before the characters which really ramped up the tension, but then you also get blind-sided by some twists and turns.

Overall, this book totally deserves all the hype, you need to read it, even if you don’t want to read it, trust me on this. I personally have put the third book in this series on my auto-buy list and I’ll be looking to read other books by these authors.

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Sarah Bruch

December 2016

(pub: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House, 2015. 599 paperback. Price: $18.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-55349-911-7)

check out websites: http://www.aaknopf.com/ and www.randomhouse.com

Category: Books, Scifi

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