Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Illuminae

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Author Amie Kaufman
              Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files, #1
Released: October 20th 2015
Publisher: Knopf BfYR
Length: 599 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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.

We’ve all heard about Illuminae, a wonderfully original new book co-authored by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. After all, the hype has been almost incredible – rarely do we see such a strong and intense publicity campaign. For months before its release, Illuminae was practically everywhere. For those of us who keep track of all things bookish, it was a must read we coveted for far too long.

I must admit that all that advertising made me a bit nervous. I have a black, cynical soul, inherently suspicious of all things “wholly unique” and “utterly captivating”. I was wary of this book, reluctant to start it, somehow sure that I would end up completely let down. I was never happier to have been wrong in my life.

Illuminae IS unique and captivating, told in a series of transcripts, IM sessions, e-mails and various other documents. It has very little in the way traditional narration and that in itself is something to celebrate. Visually, it is a stunning work in which each page brings a new surprise. I can’t even begin to imagine how much effort went into compiling this book, how many hours of thinking and planning, how many drafts and ideas were discarded along the way. Illuminae is an endeavor that required brilliance and bravery, both of which Kaufman and Kristoff possess in abundance.

I’d rather not say too much about the plot, as I went into this blindly and I wish the same for those of you who haven’t read it. I’ll say this, though: Illuminae is a thrill ride with something in it for everyone: enough science fiction and technical jargon to satisfy even hard core sci-fi fans, enough action to keep the easily bored glued to their seats, and certainly more than enough romance to keep my little heart happy and content.

Another thing I want to mention is that I read this book in two formats, switching between print and audio whenever I felt like it. One would think that such a visually interesting book wouldn’t be suited for the audio format, but a full cast audio shouldn’t be dismissed so easily. Both formats bring something new and different, and both have their advantages. Whatever you choose, you can’t possibly go wrong.

In any case, Illuminae seems to be almost universally loved and I’m happy to join in on worshiping Jay and Amie. Give it a chance if you haven’t already. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Oh, and also, they named a character James McNulty, and anyone who honors The Wire is definitely a friend of mine.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. YAY! So happy to hear you loved it Maja!! I got the hardcover ARC from BEA and aside from Fall Out by Gwenda Bond that I read while I waiting for my plane back home at the airport, it was the first book I read and loved from my BEA pile! And I loved it to bits and very much agree with you on going into the book knowing as little as possible about the book, better to discover it as you read!

  2. Did I read something about this into a movie? hmm

  3. This is one of those books I'll have to read just because of the hype. I'm pretty sure I'll hate the romance though. I've been warned.

  4. I so want to read this but like you, are so leery about hyped up books. So happy this paid off and you loved it! I think I will eventually break down and read it too. ;)

  5. This book wasn't the greatest, but it's such a fun read. Great review.

  6. I've read a lot of good reviews for this one :) May need to pick it up.

  7. I really loved this one too! I'm not a big sci-fi read either, so that's kind of saying something. I'm glad to hear you think it works fairly well in audio format too.

  8. I'm glad you loved this one, Maja. The overwhelming love for this book was pretty daunting. So much so that I've not quite gotten over it yet. It's probably why I have not finish the book as well. Someday soon...

  9. It looks really different and intriguing. One of my guest reviewer did send me a review for this one but she wasn't as taken. I need to try!

  10. I'm like you Maja, I'm instantly wary of books that get a ton of hype and are touted as unlike anything else out there, but I'm so glad that it lived up to all the press it's gotten! I don't know much about it because everyone has been nicely vague in their reviews, so I think I'll be able to go in blindly as you did:)

  11. I'm really glad that you gave this a chance, Maja and found yourself enjoying it. I was very very scared of the hype, but the book lived up to it. I was curious about the audio, so thanks for letting me know that it also adds something to the story.
    Beautiful review! :)

  12. Yeah, so glad you loved this one. I never had a doubt as I absolutely adore Jay Kristoff and I have loved Kaufman's work with Spooner. It is interesting to note that the audio is excellent. I just read that Brad Pitt's is going to produce a movie. Can't wait.

  13. YES I KNOW I ordered this AGES ago I mean HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR PRETTY NEW BOOKS TO ENTER MY COUNTRY?! I adored Kaufman's Starbound trilogy, so I just KNOW that I will love this to bits and pieces. I am not even worried about the book not meeting my expectations - the amount of excitement that has built up inside me will make sure I enjoy and squeal through every page lol. Beautiful review ;)

  14. I enjoyed this one as well and agree with you on everything. I don't always enjoy this kind of format as it often draws me OUT of a story, but in this case it did what it was supposed to and I became a part of the story. Brilly review!

  15. I waited before I got excited about this one too. I kind of wanted to just wait and see what others I trust were saying. Now that I see that it really is good (or at least all my friends say so) I went ahead and ordered it. I ordered it for the store and if it doesn't sell I'll buy it after the holidays. I have a ban on buying more books for myself at the moment. If it does sell I'll put in another order. So glad to see your positive review!

  16. I'm switching back and forth from the physical copy to the audio and enjoying it immensely! For those who read a lot the original format is refreshing and fun. I agree the romance is good, too. Wonderful review, Maja! :)

  17. I've seen this book everywhere, which also made me hesitant in picking it up. I actually like that I have no idea what this book is about so I really have no expectations for it, but I do like how this book has a little something for everyone.

  18. YES..I am so glad it lived up to expectations and delivered for you Maja. I was excited to see there will be a movie :)

  19. Gosh, I really want to read this one, but I'm waiting for the physical copy to reach my shores, because it seems like the kind of book where an ecopy just won't cut it? Glad to see that it lives up to the hype though.

  20. -sigh- There's no doubt that I'm going to read this, but yeah, I'm still bracing myself for disappointment.


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