Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Release Date: October 20th 2015
Page Count: 599
“If I breathed, I would sigh. I would scream. I would cry.”
Wow. This was so much more than I thought it would be! I know that Illuminae was extremely hyped up in the book blogging universe and I’m not too sure how I managed to avoid all spoilers and even a general knowledge of what this book was about. I went into it pretty blindly, only knowing that it was set in a far away future and that it takes place in space. I also knew that the story was told in a unique way through a file, or “dossier”, that included a lot of emails, IMs and other technological forms of communication.
What I didn’t know was that Illuminae tells the story of two mega-corporations that have gone to war over a small planet…and no one thought to inform the habitants of said planet, thus creating mass chaos. The story then turns into a war throughout space where a deadly virus is now spreading through the ships that are transporting survivors to a safe haven known as Heimdall station.
While all of this is going on, we meet our hero and our heroine. Kady Grant and Ezra Mason. These two had recently broken up shortly before the war began and constantly bicker with one another towards the start of the story. Both made it out alive but are now separated on two different ships that are transporting them to the safe haven that is Heimdall station. We get to see a lot of their interactions as we go through their emails and IMs which provides the reader with a sense of who they are as people.
Kady is sassy and outspoken and will not take any of your bull. She’s sarcastic and cynical and, funny enough, I find her to be extremely relatable. Ezra is kind and goodnatured which is pretty much the opposite of Kady. Although the two have their differences, they are both extremely brave and genuine heroes.
On top of these two main characters, we have quite a few minor ones. Of course, due to the nature of the story, many of these characters don’t last very long, but thankfully we don’t get too attached to them either. Now, there is a third “character”, but I’m afraid that talking about it too much may give away huge plot points so I therefore will not be talking about this certain character in this review. Just know that I find this character to be quite unsettling and for some reason, kept picturing it’s voice to sound like Kevin Spacey…probably because of this.
What I wasn’t expecting from this novel was the amount of violence that it contained. Yes, I know there is a war going on, but I didn’t know that when I first started the novel. There were quite a few moments that were darker and more disturbing than I expected from this story, but it wasn’t terrible enough to deter any young adults from reading Illuminae. If anything these scenes were assets to the story that helped set the tone for how brutal this war and virus are.
Honestly, the events within Illuminae don’t seem that unrealistic. This could easily be an event that takes place in the not-too-distant future. Certain elements of the story could happen within the next 10 years if you ask me. Technology has advanced so quickly it’s insane when you really think about it. I was born in 1991 (only 24 years ago) and I remember my first piece of technology as a kid was a Sony Cassette Walkman that my dad bought for me. Televisions were cubes. What’s the internet? VHS players all day. 20 some-odd years later and we now have personal cellphones that unlock with your thumbprint, easy streaming of your favourite movies and music built right into your TVs and Laptops with a simple Wi-Fi connection and, of course, there’s “the Cloud”. Who knows how far technology will advance within the next 20 years.
As you can probably already tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Illuminae and I am beyond excited for the second installment in the series! The only piece of criticism I have is that it was a bit hard to follow at first, but once you got a hang of the storytelling style, it became much easier. Illuminae truly made me think while also keeping me really entertained all within a unique story told in an extremely unique way!
I read Illuminae as part of a 2016 Reading Challenge called Around The Year in 52 Books! Click the link to join in on the fun!