Synopsis: 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–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.
I was a little afraid that there was just no way that Illuminae could possibly live up to it’s pre-publication hype, but I was pleasantly surprised. With it’s numerous POVs, and a story that’s told through emails, diary entries, schematics, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and gorgeous illustrations, this could have just floundered, resulting in a confusing mess– but somehow Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have crafted an exciting and touching space opera that had me reaching for the Kleenex a couple of times.
For two people who for the most part communicate through IMs, Kady and Ezra are star-crossed lovers who will tug at your heartstrings. Their feelings for each other come through loud and clear, despite the distance between them. Ezra is sweet, funny, and courageous. He’s so in love with Kady that he’ll do anything to try to protect her. Kady actually reminds me of a sassier version of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. She’s the epitome of “girl power”, although in the beginning her constant sassiness and impulsiveness did get on my nerves. But then her vulnerabilities begin to show through her diary entries and her IMs with Ezra, making her much more likeable.
There are too many supporting characters to single out just one, but all their stories are mesmerizing, and they’re all integral to the main story. If there’s one figure that stands out it is Aidan, the AI who was created to help and support the fleet. Unfortunately, he pulls a HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey and winds up killing many of the people he’s supposed to be protecting. But what should be a cold, unfeeling entity winds up being surprisingly sympathetic. He has his own unique voice, completely separate than those of the others.
The story started out a little slow for me, I think mainly because of the multiple POVs. There were just so many that it was a little difficult to follow what was happening. But once I became used to the episitolary form of the writing, I was completely hooked. There are so many twists and turns I found myself tied up in knots through much of the book. There’s one particularly gutsy move on the part of the authors that could have derailed the story, but instead made it even more compelling.
At over 600 pages, Illuminae is a hefty read, but it’s totally worth it. I would advise you buy or borrow the print version though. The illustrations, and graphics are such a huge part of the story, and I think they will come across so much better than they do in the e-book format. I’m actually going to borrow this from my library because I think I missed quite a bit reading this on my Bluefire Reading app. Just to give you an idea, here’s a couple of examples:
This is the type of book that will appeal to any science fiction fan, whether you’re a teen or an adult. Through it’s admittedly unconventional method of writing, the story is just beautifully written. It portrays the human condition perfectly, and you’ll become emotionally invested in it’s characters, whether they’re preparing for battle, or writing last emails to their loved ones. Illuminae is the first book in a trilogy with the sequel due out next year. I can honestly say that it will be one of my most highly anticipated books of 2016.