Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Series or Standalone: Illuminae Files #1
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Illuminae is one of those books where I just want to scream “THIS BOOK IS AWESOME! BUY IT NOW! K BYE!” However, that doesn’t really tell you much about anything.
With so many YA books out there, Illuminae stands out from the crowd. The story starts out with a BANG and the action doesn’t let up until the last page. This is a fat book, but I found myself engrossed and flying through it. You want to keep turning pages to see how much worse things can get for these poor characters – and, boy, do things get pretty bad.
In this book, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Not only are the character running for their lives on damaged spaceships because their planet was destroyed, they are also dealing with a crazy artificial intelligence called AIDAN while being forced to deal with an deadly outbreak of a new disease called Phobos. Kaufman and Kristoff managed to artfully juggling all this without overwhelming the reader and the story. Never did I feel like there was too much going on or that the book was getting cheesy with all these disaster happening. I relished what horrible and painful thing would come next.
One aspect that I really loved about Illuminae is the format of this book. I didn’t know going into it that it was an epistolary novel, or for those of you who don’t have an English degree, a novel told through a collection of documents. That’s not something you see in Young Adult fiction too often.
At first I wasn’t sure if I would like reading 600 page novel told through a collection of documents such as emails, chat messages, ship memos and surveillance reports. However, I don’t think there is any other way to successfully tell this story. The format made the story feel human and relatable, despite the fact that this book takes place on a spaceship. You feel like you are a part of the story, a helpless observer to events that you know won’t have a happy ending. That’s a very powerful thing to be able to accomplish.
I ended up falling in love with every character in this book. From the main character all the way down to the secondary characters, I couldn’t help but feel for them. They all felt like they were real people and seeing the things they had to go through was painful. Even if a character was introduced for a short time, I couldn’t help but sympathize with them.
The character arcs in this novel blew me away. Kady and Ezra are the main characters and I really enjoyed seeing how tragedy affected them differently. They hated each other in the beginning, but by the end, they realized the pointless of their arguments in the past and that they truly needed each other to get through everything that happened.
However, by the end of the book, my favorite character ended up not being a person, but rather AIDAN, Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network on board the battlecarrier Alexander. Don’t get me wrong, AIDAN was bat-shit crazy, but by the end I couldn’t help but sympathize with the AI. Without giving too much away, its progression through the story was one that touched me the most, despite all the horrible things it ended up doing.
There are so many things I haven’t even touched upon that made this book so amazing. I could write a novel about why Illuminae will knock your socks off, but no one wants to read that.
Illuminae is one of the best books I’ve read of 2015. It’s a stunningly unique novel that will take you on a roller-coaster of a ride, leaving you an emotional mess by the end of it. It packs a powerful punch with its non-stop action and heartbreak. I cannot wait to see what Kaufman and Kristoff think up for the next book in this series.
Bump this up to the top of your reading list as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed.
*Shout out to Gail from Ticket to Anywhere for lending me her ARC*