When two rival corporations go to war over
Kady and Ezra’s home planet, the two have to make their way through the sickness, treachery, and technical difficulties that occur on the fleeing survivor ships.
Why this book?: Heard a lot about it, and the unique configuration drew me in!
Note 01/13/17: Due to recent problems with Jay Kristoff, one of the authors, I would like to say that I do not support his actions with my enjoyment of this book. In fact, I would want anyone considering getting any of Kristoff’s books to check out this post by a friend, and deeply consider the events. As I said before, I do not support his actions with me enjoying this book. (And, frankly, his actions have made me not want to read Gemina, the sequel, as much.)
First things first — the format. I’ve seen a few people get put off by the formatting of this book, and I’ve seen people give up on the book because of the formatting. In case you didn’t know, Illuminae is formatted in a unique way. It’s mainly a series of documents compiled from the databases referenced throughout the book. Mainly its emails between characters, video surveillance summaries, data from AIDAN, the AI, and even IM chats. With limited format, some things are hard to understand. You don’t get the description of the characters, other than their personalities, and you don’t get to know the world or anything else. This way of telling the story, however, really made it unique in my opinion. You were able to morph the characters to look how you want, and all they really had to do was fit the personalities.
The main characters you follow in the documents are Kady Grant, the computer genius, and Ezra Mason, the ‘jock’. Of course, this being a YA novel, they’re also the pairing in the book. I’ve nothing against YA romance-y stuff, it just gets a little repetitive after a while. At first I thought the romance in this book was a bit thick, but it also adds a voice to Illuminae that wouldn’t have been there without it.
Kady is the type of girl to argue, to fight, and to push on. She’s resilient throughout the book, and in general, a strong female character. She doesn’t need to be saved, in fact, she’s doing the saving. Her development throughout the book was really something as well. At first she was just focused on surviving. But then things slowly were given more and more meaning as things happened. She did actions based on others instead of herself. One flaw that I found was that, now that I think about it, she was sort of the stereotypical “dystopian” female protagonist. Sass + hot + impulsive = stereotypical dystopian female lead. However, the setting and the ending — which I don’t want to spoil — for once completely redeemed the shortcoming. By the end of the book, Kady is no longer the stereotypical female lead, and is now her very own character.
Ezra is, as said before, the jock type. He’s love-sick for Kady, doesn’t know how to admit it, but is also kinda angry at her. And himself. We don’t really get to see him as much as Kady, as she’s more of the main character than he is obviously. I didn’t see much development from him, as he wasn’t on page as much, but he definitely got his act together by the end of the novel.
Other characters include AIDAN, the AI who kind of goes nuts. He gets a big part later on in the book, and I personally loved seeing things from his perspective. Seeing things from his end really cleared up a few things, and more things made sense. Another character is Byron. He’s not that big of a character, and you don’t ever actually meet him outright until you’re about 3/4 of the way through. He’s seen rarely through the book, but in the end, plays a HUGE role. Some others are David Torrence, James McNulty, and other various characters seen briefly.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It was something new for me, something I wasn’t expecting. I’ve read Ms. Kaufman’s other book, the one she co-wrote with Ms. Meagan Spooner, the Starbound Trilogy, and wasn’t much impressed with that trilogy. (Although, I have heard that Their Fractured Light, is a lot better than the first two, so I really can’t wait to read that!) So the fact that I really ended up enjoying this book (I stayed up to 2 am, thank you very much) was a surprise to me.
Would I recommend?
People who like a good YA, with some good thriller parts, and not to mention, sci-fi, would absolutely love this book.
Published: October 20th, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 599
Genre: YA/Science Fiction
Synopsis: via 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.