Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

Cover- Illuminae

Published: October 20, 2015

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 602 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0


Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. 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 biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
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.

Honestly. Could this have been much cooler? I sort of avoid books that have huge amounts of hype until the hype is pretty well justified (and sometimes until the series is finished). Decided to finally check out Illuminae and just WOW. The hype was entirely justified and I loved every page of it! I highly recommend the audio format as well, because it’s a full cast performance, with sound effects and it just makes it 10x cooler than it probably is in print.

The story is told in a really interesting style – not exactly sure what to call it (epistolary?), but it’s a collection of documents, emails, transcribed video recordings, etc. It starts off on the planet Kerenza, where an illegal mining colony is attacked by a corporate competitor called BeiTech. Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have just broken up and now their day has just gotten unimaginably worse. They escape the planet with a few thousand other refugees and are now on the run from a BeiTech dreadnought that only wants to silence the few remaining witnesses. It’s a race to jump station Heimdall where they can hopefully find refuge and share their story but things just keep going wrong. BeiTech dropped a bioweapon that has infected people one one of the refugee ships and now there are raging space berserkers who only wish to kill running amok. And the AI AIDAN has gone mad. It’s just an all around bad situation.

Obviously the story is pretty non-stop just based on the details I’ve shared here. The characters are also pretty fascinating. Kady is on the path to become an extraordinary hacker and Ezra has quite the necessary hand-eye coordination to make a decent pilot so he’s drafted by the marines. They’re on separate ships and are still technically not a couple and so avoid each other for long weeks. When things begin getting a bit sketchy Kady reaches out and they begin to share info. And of course fall madly in love once again. There are tons of minor characters that really round things out, many of which you actually begin to feel for. 

This was truly a fantastic performance and I would love to see the event in a movie. It’s perfectly set up for adaptation and the writers would barely need a script. There was some cheesy dialogue, but hey, the main characters are a bunch of teenagers with raging hormones and a penchant for occasional poetry. I loved this SO MUCH and immediately picked up the sequel, Gemina which (as I type this) I have already finished.

2 thoughts on “Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

  1. For this trilogy I changed my usual reading habits and bought the printed books, because I believe that’s the best format for enjoying this weirdly (in a good sense) written story. But now you made me curious about the audio format… 🙂
    Enjoy the rest of the series, it only gets better from here on…


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