Review | Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Nail-biting book-crack told in an innovative and entertaining way. 5/5 stars.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff book cover

What it’s about: 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.

My take:

I’ve done my very best to make this review spoiler-free, so forgive me if I’m vague and cryptic!

I hemmed and hawed a while about whether to be stingy and give this 4.5 stars or give it 5. In the end, I asked myself whether I would forgo food and/or sleep to read the next installment in the series if someone were to give it to me right now. And I would. So 5 stars it is.

However. It’s not perfect. The final section with Kady and the Alexander went on for too long. And while the way the authors have made inventive use of the page to create images and other effects is mostly ingenious and highly effective, there were a couple of times it was just annoying and made it hard for me to read what was happening.

But I have decided to overlook my niggles because this is sheer genius book-crack. Do not pick up this book if you need to sleep or do anything useful for a few hours because you won’t want to put it down.

From the very get-go this is nail-biting stuff. It’s as if the authors sat down and had the following conversation (no spoilers, this is all in the blurb):

“So. The beginning. We need some trauma. What’s something bad that can happen in our main characters’ personal lives?’

“They could break up?”

“OK, great. Now. How can we make this situation worse?”

“Let’s have a massive spaceship turn up and blow up their home and force them to scramble off the planet. Lots of people die. It will be unpleasant.”

“Terrific. But we need to ramp up the stakes.”

“How about the massive spaceship is now hunting the survivors down, they have little chance of defending themselves and their time is running out?”

“Sounds good. Not quite bad enough though. Anything else?”

“How about a deadly viral outbreak?”

“Aha! Now you’re talking! Let’s go with that and we’ll see how we can make it truly dire as we go…”

*evil chuckling drowned out by the clack of the keyboard*

Overall: recommended for everyone who enjoys well-written, action-packed sci-fi. Just clear you schedule before you start.

Claire Huston / Art and Soul
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20 thoughts on “Review | Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. “In the end, I asked myself whether I would forgo food and/or sleep to read the next installment in the series if someone were to give it to me right now. And I would. So 5 stars it is.”

    Those are the strongest recommendations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Every time you thought things couldn’t get worse for the characters… they did. I could imagine the authors chuckling to themselves and rubbing their hands together with evil glee. Meanwhile, the reader is biting their nails and reading extra fast to check everything turns out ok!

      Liked by 1 person

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