Illuminae (Illuminae Files _01)
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
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.
When I finished this book I knew I would have trouble reviewing it, so here is my best attempt.
At 599 pages, (really? Couldn’t add one more page?) I thought it would take me awhile to get through this. I mean, I’m somewhat of a fast reader and I can read HP and the Order of the Phoenix in a day, (but that’s HP and I’ve read it so many times I can skim, but still). I thought it would take me at least the weekend. But, if I hadn’t been forced to emerge from my bedroom and interact with a houseguest I could have finished this in one sitting. It was just so exciting. I felt as if I was Kady, alone and ignorant to what had happened, and I NEEDED TO KNOW. And the format of this book was everything to making this story exciting.
While I enjoyed it a lot, I can understand that the way the story is told probably isn’t for everyone. Instead of a straightforward 1st person or 3rd person POV, we are presented with an array of different types of documents. Through interviews, chat transcripts, emails, and official memorandums, to name a few, the events of the last year unfold.
I have to admit that there were points where I was confused. In my currently reading update I mentioned that I had seen Titus Andronicus the night before I started reading. While watching, I found myself totally confused for scenes at a time until I was able to piece together what was happening. That’s how this book worked for me. I would read 15 pages, have no idea what had happened, and then get to another document that would help clarify what was going on. Unlike Shakespeare, where it is more the fact that it takes a while to get used to the language, I think this was actually the author’s intention. The book tells the story of Kady and Ezra as they try to figure out what is going on and at times we are just as lost as they are.
And while I did enjoy the format, one negative was that it took longer for me to connect with the characters. We are kept at a distance between their actual thoughts, and it is only what they put forward in their e-mails and chats that we really get a sense of who they are. Kady’s journal entries helped add an insight into her mind as well. Even with the distance, I did find myself caring for the characters and their relationship (even secondary characters). Their chats were adorable and from the start I was rooting for the two of them to work things out, despite the separation and the terrible situations they found themselves in.
It is hard for me to talk about the plot of this book without giving away important facts. Let’s just say that the first 250 pages or so were relatively normal and just when it was getting a bit tedious, shit got weird. Real weird. I don’t even want to explain what was so weird because I didn’t see it coming and I feel like it would ruin a bit of the surprise.
Illuminae didn’t answer all of the questions I had, but it didn’t bother me. This is a rollercoaster of a book and just went when you think you’ve hit the end of all the surprised and revelations, it knocks you back down and leaves you wanting more.