Illuminae 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.
BRIEFING NOTE: 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.
Nobody told me that this was a zombie apocolypse-esque book. Truly, y’all, it was horrifying. I couldn’t sleep. It was disgusting and disturbing in every way. I was expecting YA Sci-Fi, and instead I got horror. At least, it was horror to me. My suggestion: if you don’t like zombies, stay far, FAR away from this book. But if you’re into that, you’ll probably love Illuminae!
The narrative style in this book is pretty unique. It is a collection of messages, documents, and other paperwork, essentially, which gave the book a found-footage feeling. I actually enjoyed the narrative style more than I enjoyed the narrative. It was interesting and different. Descriptions suffered, but I’m okay with that. I found the blacking out of the curse words to be a bit ridiculous, however. Which, to be fair, the authors acknowledge at the beginning of the book, but if you’re going to have that much swearing, you may as well just include it.
That being said, I found the texted dialogue between the characters unpleasant to read. For one thing, people don’t type “u” instead of “you” and other abbreviations like that anymore. I had a hard time believing they would even be typing at all, that far in the future. And am I really supposed to believe text smilies would still be a thing? But mostly it was they way they talked. Ezra and the other male characters in particular were so vulgar and childish.
I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. Kady in particular was very meh for me. The hard-hearted badass would be a lot more interesting if I hadn’t read it before. The most intriguing character was the artificial intelligence, AIDAN. He raised a lot of good questions about what happens when computers get smarter than people, what it means to be a person, and whether “for the greater good” is really the greater good at all.
I enjoyed the premise and plot a whole lot. Biological warfare, inter-corporation-battles, AI getting too big for its britches, these are all things I enjoy. Well, enjoy reading, I mean. The pace was quick, often to the point of racing. Things kept taking unexpected turns in the best way. It was a great reading experience! Except for that I am apparently terrified of zombies.
Overall, a cool book, but not really for me. I’m not planning on continuing the series.