Book Review: Illuminae


ashley | I started seeing Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff pop up online a long time ago and I was immediately intrigued. When I finally got around to buying it, I was a bit daunted by how thick it was. It’d been a while since I read something so substantial, but I can tell you, ever single page of this was worth it.

First, let’s talk the structure of the book. I don’t want to go into too many details because how this book was compiled is half of the beauty of it, but it’s also too cool not to mention. This story is told through hacked documents, including emails, military files, IMs, medical reports and interviews all collected into this file by the Illuminae Group. I’ve seen this format done really well before (The Dead House comes to mind) and I’m a big fan of this kind of compilation storytelling, but Illuminae brings this to a whole new level. It’s not just text, these documents look like documents. It’s not just documents, either. The way information from the AI, AIDAN, is represented, the way certain incidences are represented, this isn’t just a book, it’s an experience and it was really, really cool. You have to see it for yourself.

The story is also well done. It’s a story of survival and the lengths in which people will go to save themselves and the ones they love. There’s technology on the fritz, a virus turning people into crazy killers, an enemy ship in strong pursuit and a lot of other secrets going on behind the scenes that Kady eventually end ups unraveling as she fights for her life and the life of those on her ship.

I really liked Kady as a character. She was the typical sarcastic heroine that I’m usually drawn to, but she was also so selfless in what she was doing. Everything she did was for the survival of the people she loved, and that put her in some otherwise difficult situations. There was a love in her life, but their love existed over a distance and didn’t really interfere with the story or her choices. In fact, this love actually kind of drove Kady to the heroism that she fell into, which I can always appreciate.

I don’t want to give anything away but I thought the ending was pretty great. I liked how Kady handled herself and the ally she takes on even after everything that has happened to her, it was an unexpected relationship that you kind of come to respect in a way. She pushes through, she sacrifices anything she has left of herself to try and save her people. It was pretty cool to read, Kady is definitely someone you want on your side when you’re facing your end and I’m glad I met her.

There’s a lot of violence and death in this, some of which is described pretty vividly. But it all comes together in this really strong way, like I said, it’s more of an experience than anything else and I really, really enjoyed every little part of it. It is refreshing and entertaining and all around a great, fun read that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for something a little different.


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october 20, 2015