Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 599 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Recommended for Fans of: Marvel, contagion/plague stories
Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. 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 biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
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.
Reading this was an experience. The unique, epistolary storytelling format made for a fast-paced, action-packed, shockingly beautiful book that is a very fast read despite its 600 pages. Don’t be intimidated by this book’s size; it can easily be read in one or two sittings.
This story has so many layers: interplanetary warfare, rogue AI, a plague, cyber espionage, survival, and a teenage romance. It reminded me of a lot of other stories mashed together (Avengers: Age of Ultron meets a zombie contagion), but those familiar elements came together in a way that felt wholly original.
My favorite thing about this book is AIDAN, the artificial intelligence system. The language on AIDAN’s pages were beautiful and poetic, and the AI’s development provided the most thought-provoking elements that brought the story to a deeper, philosophical level.
I must admit, I wasn’t completely invested in the romance. It just felt like a typical YA teenage romance, and I didn’t particularly care whether Kady and Ezra were together or not. Not to mention that their modern-day slang and text speak felt jarringly out of place for a book set so far in the future (I always enjoy when futuristic stories make up new slang words). However, their interactions did keep the story grounded and provided some light humor in the midst of a life and death crisis.
This book had me laughing, crying, and literally gasping with all the twists and turns. I couldn’t read the pages fast enough. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the series!