ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: October 20th, 2015
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.
Structurally it is the coolest freaking book I have ever read. We get IMs, journal entries, artwork, emails, surveillance footage. And somehow, someway, this mashup of documents works so incredibly well and is both effective and efficient in telling this story. We don't get much from the characters, we're rarely inside their heads at all. All of the world building and character development and plot and drama comes from this packaged compilation of stuff. The most perspective we get is from an Artificial Intelligence, for crying out loud!
Honestly, this book is a work of art, and I've probably spent way too much time thinking about the complexity of the design and format. Moments of it reminded me a lot of Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is in the Massage, such as the way in which images and word worked together and just how the book was so interactive. Reading ILLUMINAE is not only a visually moving experience, it's a tactile one as well.
I couldn't stop turning the page. It really speaks to Kaufman and Kristoff's skill as writers that I'm so emotionally attached to characters that I've primarily encountered through instant messages. The details kept coming at us, building Kady and Ezra into these full and complex and awesome characters. Their voices are incredibly vivid and distinct through their interactions--both with and without each other. Also, Kady has pink hair. Just saying. It's awesome. With all of these fantastical science fiction elements, the characters were still very real and relatable to me. EMOTIONS though.
The intensity of this book, oh my god. It starts fast and then somehow keeps speeding up. There's never a dull moment, never a moment where I wanted to put the book down (just moments where assignments and sleep deprivation forced me to close it.) The stakes are always high in this universe where every decision is life or death. The introduction and establishment of the virus was also incredibly well executed, elevating this book from people on spaceships to ZOMBIES on spaceships.
ILLUMINAE one hundred percent deserves all of the hype that it is getting. This isn't even a review so much as a flailing gush session. It's hard for a sci-fi to win me over. Sci-fi is not my preferred genre, but I'm obsessed with this book and the world it has crafted. Now I'm just left wondering how the heck I'm supposed to wait at least a year for book too?
ILLUMINAE hands down won me over. How many stars? I'm going to give it all the stars.