Illuminae

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Illuminae
Author(s)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
13+
Release Date
October 20, 2015
ISBN
978-0553499117
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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 a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Editor reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot 
 
4.3  (3)
Characters 
 
4.3  (3)
Writing Style 
 
4.7  (3)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

Worth the hype

Lo and behold, the book that put me into a reading slump for a while because I couldn’t find anything that could top how amazing this book was and how much I enjoyed it.

Illuminae is CRAZY GOOD. It has an excellent plot and the pacing is good. It’s told in documents, IMs and other tech stuff which made the reading experience loads of fun!

The characters were strong which somehow made it typical for a sci-fi/dystopian novel. Ezra and Kady reminded me of Percy and Annabeth thrown into a sci-fi/dystopian situation. They’re very likeable and I loved their chemistry together. The romance between them was so natural that I sometimes found it too cheesy for my liking.

My favorite character though is James McNulty. His humor was the best and I loved his banter with Ezra. It was such a comic relief! Besides that, I could really describe him as strong, smart and BRAVE. He’s such a noble man.

The twists and turns of the novel were really amazing and it added depth towards the plot. I loved every single second of reading the book! The narration and writing style of both authors were unique, although I’m not sure which author wrote which character haha!

I’m definitely looking forward to the next books of the series. This book has been on everyone’s TBR, including mine of course, so once the book hit our local shelves, I could not resist buying it. Good thing it lived up the hype!

Good Points
Excellent characters, amazing storyline, unique writing style
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Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

Fantastic

Wow. This book is uniquely put together. How did it even get published in the first place? My goodness. The amount of work and sweat must be totally uncountable, and I think the authors and creators deserve a healthy round of applause. Just wow.

ILLUMINAE is a book that is just stunning. It's visual, interacting, and outstanding in its genre. I have never seen or read a book quite like this. And I have never thought that I would be able to connect with its characters from professional documents and transcripts and such, but I so did. And that is an impressive feat.

Kady and Ezra are amusing and hilarious. They are both major characters, but it is Kady whose character arc is especially followed. She is a really awesome, snarky, and intelligent girl who narrative and personality dominates most of the book. She is the hero of the story. Not Ezra who is in the military and fights against a faceless, evil corporation with a ship that's hunting the innocent, but her who is the rebel messing around with the computer systems.

Ezra has his moments, but he is not in the limelight. The other person (which is a very hard label to put on, to be honest) is actually the artificial intelligence called Aidan. Now, that AI is a true character whose character development is creepy. (Well done, by the way.)

The conflict, at first, is a bit complicated to understand. Yes, the world building is hard to picture, especially for those who don't read YA Sci-Fi. Yes, the story is in a strange format that is so unlike its sister Sci-Fi novels. Yes, it's hard to tell who exactly is who and why they are so important/relevant to the story. But I assure you all that the book isn't really difficult to understand when you go with the flow. Trust me. And the story, the battle, the action, the way it is set up... It's so engaging.

Speaking of the world building, have I mentioned how complex and amazing the setting is? Seriously. It's so well thought out, and I absolutely love it. I can't wait to see the sequel and read what the authors have planned next.

In conclusion, ILLUMINAE is a visually stunning book that goes all out. It's very creative and unlike any other book I've ever read.

Rating: Five out of Five

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(Updated: November 13, 2015)
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

Intergalactic Melange

This mashup of tried and true concepts makes for an accessible sci-fi experience, and is likely to appeal to fans of Battlestar Galactica. The plotline is notably similar, featuring a hodgepodge space-caravan of civilian refugees and myopic military personnel fleeing for their lives across vast distances—being pursued by a force committed to their eradication. Now throw in a crazed Artificial Intelligence with a god complex (a la Hal from 2001 A Space Odyssey), the horror elements of a mutating virus that turns people into high-functioning zombies (a la the Reavers from Firefly), a dash of angst-ridden teenage romance conveyed almost exclusively over text-based communication, and you have Illuminae.

The story is set 560 years into a future where starships have the ability to generate wormholes and humans have expanded throughout the galaxy, if not the entire Universe. We open straight into a survivor interview with a computer savvy 17-year-old girl named Kady, the day after her tiny mining colony was attacked by a competing corporation and she was forced to flee—making it out along with her mother and her very recently ex-boyfriend, Ezra. Their three evacuation ships are damaged, undermanned, and closely pursued--facing many months worth of travel in an attempt to reach a “jumpgate” they all hope will take them back to civilization and a chance at justice. But with the threat of a shipboard contaminant and a malfunctioning A.I. system added to their trials, their odds are steadily dwindling.

What I Liked:

Illuminae deserves the ‘Most Interesting Cover of the Year’ award—hands down. The unusual formatting and texture proves to be reasonable preparation for the book’s actual layout. Despite the daunting size of this eclectic tome, the beak-up of media types and simplicity of the YA-targeted writing makes for a fairly readable venture.

The wide array of literary material used to convey this story is impressive, allowing a sundry dynamic and sometimes frenetic ambiance. Mediums include: diary entries, typography, interview transcripts, instant messenger conversations, briefing notes, emails, casualty lists, personnel photos, classified documents, status reports, surveillance footage summaries, ship maps and diagrams, ASCII art, and disjointed pseudo-poetical A.I. commentary.

On the up side, the visual diversity does wonders to stave off eye and attention fatigue.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

On the down side, the visual diversity sometimes makes for a twitchy flow with jarring transitions.

For this reader, the incredibly modern (i.e. non-futuristic) feeling text speak was grueling to get through. While on the one hand the poor grammar, lack of capitalization/punctuation, and degraded leetspeak makes some degree of sense on the hacker side of authenticity, it also makes for rough reading that—combined with the relative immaturity of the main characters—impeded emotional connectivity. As a result, the dialogue between Ezra and Kady rarely felt natural. (Fortunately, such communications comprise a mercifully small fraction of the book’s total contents.)

Unfortunately, nothing about the second-chance distance romance actually endeared me into caring about what happened to the main characters. Kady (handle name: ByteMe) is staunch enough as a hacker-type character—brimming with scathing sarcasm and emotional constipation. But Ezra came off as dim, crude, and uninteresting. Readers may find more reason to form attachment to his semi-crazy marine friend, Sargent McNulty, than they do toward the intended hero.

Sadly, there are little by way of memorable quotes. And though it’s well-paced, few things outside of the formatting come off as particularly surprising or original. For this reader, the impulse to keep reading was driven by the desire to find out if the evil BeiTech would ever be held accountable for their genocidal act of corporate warfare.

Content Note: While there’s a fair bit of innuendo, there is no actual sex depicted at any point in this book. Coarse language is frequently implied but censored out, for cleverly explained reasons. The degree of horror/graphic violence does seem to be stabbing for shock value, following along the same disquieting lines as Event Horizon.

(i.e. If you’re looking for an experimentally artsy zombie apocalypse in space, you’ve come to the right place.)

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Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0
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5.0
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5.0

Such a unique book!

Wow! I'm not even sure what to say about this book without ruining it for everyone. I'm not normally much of a sci fi reader, but I loved this book. It took me a little while in the beginning to figure things out. The format is so different and there were a lot of names to learn (people, ships, companies, etc). I really started getting into it after a couple hundred pages and then didn't want to put it down. I had so many different emotions during different parts of the book. And the ending! I will be starting the next book tomorrow and I can't wait to find out what happens.

Good Points
Interesting story.
Fast paced.
Great illustrations.
Different than other books I've read.
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5.0
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5.0
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5.0
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5.0

My Mind is Blown!

This book jumps right into the action. Kady and Ezra's home planet; Kerenza is invaded by BeiTech. UTA (United Terran Authority) gets there and helps the WUC, to kick some BeiTech ass. Though one BeiTech dreadnought survives... the Lincoln.

Of the UTA fleet the Alexander, Hypatia, and the Copernicus survive. Kady ends up on the Hypatia and Ezra on the Alexander. The Alexander as taken a lot of damage and can no long create it's own wormhole. So now everyone's worried about the Lincoln catching up and killing them all. Scary stuff.

While all that has been going down, Ezra's been trying to reach Kady. His ex girlfriend, whom had just broken up with him the day on the invasion. The UTA are in dire need of more people and soon Ezra is scripted into being a fight pilot. Kady on the other hand, begins to work with another hacker. See, the UTA isn't giving their passengers all the information they deserve, so our hackers set out to see what that is.

The Alexander AI then decides to kill everyone on the Copernicus because a virus has broken out on board because of BeiTech. It starts slowly and then turns it's victims into zombies. Not to mention during this time that the Lincoln is catching up! So they shut down the AI but when Lincoln comes calling, they have to to turn it back on and everyone goes crazy.

Does our couple survive? Do they get back together? Does Lincoln kill them or or does the AI? Does anyone ever get back at BeiTech for going into their planet? You MUST read to find out!

This book is just so good! I didn't think I'd like it. Not really my kind of thing honestly. But the format... it doesn't read like a normal book and that's what makes it so freaking cool! It reads in a series of chat logs, diary entries, and even a few web pages. I've never seen a book do this before. Don't get me wrong, the story is good too. Though it does start off a little slow, it took me a while to really invest in these characters but when I did.... I found that I couldn't put this book down. I even took it to work with me and read on breaks. It's so amazing!

If you've not read this book already, what are you waiting for? It's worth a read and if you're like me and this isn't usually your kind of read, I'd still give it a chance, so worth it! It's such a great book, had me on the edge of my seat and it's so beautiful!

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(Updated: September 14, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
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5.0

Beautiful to look at, wonderful to read

The story follows exes Kady and Ezra after two rival corporations decide to go to war, resulting in the destruction of their home planet, Kerenza. As refugees, Kady and Ezra are taken in by two separate rescue spaceships, the Alexander and the Hypatia, with the enemy warship the Lincoln in pursuit. That, however, is the least of their problems: A deadly virus breaks out aboard the Alexander, and the ship’s artificial intelligence system, AIDAN, may secretly be trying to kill them all. Kady, a genius-level hacker, takes matters into her own hands, as the people in charge refuse to explain just what the hell is going on. The only person who is able to help her discover the truth is her ex-boyfriend, Ezra.

The most fascinating aspect of this novel is that it is told entirely through hacked classified documentation, emails, interviews, messenger-chats, and transcripts. I spent a long while before reading this book simply flipping through the pages and marvelling over how awesomely cool it looked.

You’d think that written entirely through documents wouldn’t necessarily make you fall in love with the characters, but you would be very, very wrong. Kady is kick ass: she is snarky, sarcastic and has issues with authority, though deep-down she’s a sweetheart. Ezra is an extremely cute dork, and very easy to fall in love with. The moments they talk about their year-long relationship were incredibly sweet, and made me squeal in delight.

The plot. The plot. It’s so intense and well-thought out, I was mad I didn’t come up with something like it. It’s clear the authors did their research on sci-fi, spaceships, and physics. If you’re expecting to read a Twilight-space opera, where nothing happens and everyone survives, you will be disappointed, in a good way. Although not quite on Game of Thrones level, the events and the consequence of those events are realistic. You can’t have two mega-corporations go to war, and no one dies. Kady and Ezra lose friends and loved ones, witness deplorable acts, and suffer through PTSD. It’s hyper-realistic, which is why I loved it.

My favourite character, after our protagonists, would have to be the artificial intelligence system AIDAN (can you even call an AI a character?). Sci-fi consists of a thousand different versions of AI, but I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered one as complex as AIDAN, who feels almost as much as a human does. AIDAN goes to great lengths to protect the fleet, even if it doesn’t seem like it is.

This book had me on the edge of my seat. Despite being 599 pages long, I demolished it in two days. The design team over at Knopf Books deserve an award or something for what they created here. The battle scenes and the moments in AIDAN’S data core were pure art. Everything was incredibly detailed, from the subheadings on each page, down to the tabbed info provided by Illuminae.

Oh, Illuminae. That final private message scene at the very end of the novel, I did not see coming. Be prepared for a twist. An awesome one.

I cannot wait for the next book in this series. Illuminae just came out a few months ago, so undoubtedly there is still a long way to go for Illuminae #2.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

Good Points
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What I've Been Waiting For

Girl breaks up with her boyfriend, planet gets destroyed, and then there’s the viral outbreak…

If you aren’t curious yet, then maybe the format will grab your attention. Hacked e-mails, video transcriptions, ship records… You get the idea.

Kady and Ezra end up on separate evacuation ships after their mining colony is destroyed by a ruthless enemy. Despite tragic losses, they start to make new lives for themselves on board, moving on without their home and without each other. Things are bad, but there’s hope. Then things get worse. A plague has appeared and starts to turn shipmates into vicious beasts, who brutally savage anyone who get in their path. Oh, and the AI on one of the ships is taking matters into its own hands.

I adore the unconventional formatting, but all of that would be wasted if there wasn’t a compelling story behind it. Action, adventure, romance, science, horror… there’s an excellent mix of all these things. Kady is my favorite, with her ambition, tech skills, and grit. I’m thrilled that there are two more books to come. I don’t buy many hardcovers, but I have zero regrets with this one.

Good Points
The formatting was an excellent visual companion to the story.

Worldbuilding-as-we-go, enough to set the stage but it doesn't get in the way.
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Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0
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5.0
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5.0

Perfect

I thought this book would be difficult to read given the layout but once I started it I realized that it was actually quite easy. I loved the plot and needed to know what was going to happen immediately. I was gripped by the characters from the very beginning and by the end I was left with wanting more and more. I'm so happy this is being adapted to a movie.

Good Points
The plot was thrilling, I needed to know what was going to happen.
The characters were completely lovable
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Overall rating 
 
5.0
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The Ultimate Sci-fi

MY THOUGHTS
I was so excited to read this book!! I love both of the authors' other book series and add the fact that the book sounds fantastic, this book needed to be in my hands! I am glad to say that this book is the ultimate sci-fi! It tells a new story in an entirely unique way!

This book takes place in the far future. Kady and Ezra just broke up this morning and that means like the worst that can happen, until their small planet is attack. Their small planet ends up in the middle a war and ultimately destroys the planet. Three ships are able to rescue a few thousand people, Kady and Ezra included, but their problems are not over. The ships must travel through space towards help while an enemy ship is on their tail. That's not all. There's something deadly afoot in these ships...

What is very interesting about this book is how the story is told. It's told completely by various documents. Interviews, emails, IMs, camera footage transcripts, etc. It was a bit odd and confusing at first, but after awhile I got so used to it! And, really, it's such a unique way to tell the story and I became completely absorbed! First of all, you would like it would be hard to connect to the characters or really anything with this type of format, but no, it really wasn't. The characters were spectacular and while it took me awhile to understand the world, it didn't take that long. Really, the whole futuristic world was done very well. I know I'm raving here, but everything worked!

I really just want to mention the emotions that this book caused. I kind of knew that this would happen as both these authors have a history of it. I think this is something that I just loved, even if it may have ruined me. I just think it's amazing when authors can get me to connect with the book and the characters so well. Also, SO MUCH HAPPENS! That's part of why I'm being so vague in my review. Yeah, the synopsis gives a whole lot away, but I think it's for the best that you guys find things out through the documents.

Lastly, there are plot twists. Round of applause for plot twists!

IN CONCLUSION
Overall, my review is a mess, but just read this book! I was expecting awesome, but I was still blown away! This is going to be an entire series, so I am very excited to read more!

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