Review Detail

Illuminae Featured
Young Adult Fiction 2732
Intergalactic Melange
(Updated: November 13, 2015)
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
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.)
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Walrus and the Caribou
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
When the earth was new, words had the power to...
The Elephant's Umbrella
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Elephant is always ready and willing to share her prized...
Calvin Gets the Last Word
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The dictionary as narrator? YES! ...
Goblin King (Permafrost, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Kara Barbieri's Goblin King, the stunning sequel in the...
Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #3)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Morrigan battles a new evil as a strange, frightening illness...
The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
*AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER* From New York...
Earth-Shattering Events: Volcanoes, earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis and other natural disasters
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
An atlas of the most extreme meteorological and geological disasters...
Among the Beasts and Briars
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Ashley Poston, acclaimed author of Heart of Iron, returns...
Gut Garden: A journey into the wonderful world of your microbiome
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
A journey into the wonderful world of your microbiome! Within...
ICK! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Animals--they're cute and fluffy, cuddly and puffy, and ... sometimes...
Dinosaurs Are Not Extinct: Real Facts About Real Dinosaurs
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Award-winning author-illustrator Drew Sheneman brings budding paleontologists the truth about...
The Camelot Betrayal
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New...
Soulswift
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A dark, epic fantasy about a girl who must rethink...
Goblin King
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Kara Barbieri's Goblin King, the stunning sequel in the...
Beautiful Wild
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
You are invited to set sail on the maiden voyage...
Kingdom of the Wicked
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling...

Latest Member Reviews

 
5.0
"This was an adventure from start to finish. I love Polly and her determination to not give up. Gorgeous setting..."
The Slug Queen Chronicles
 
5.0
"When Cricket finds out that the dust she's seen her whole life has magical properties and her late mother could..."
Welcome to Chanu-Con!
 
5.0
"An adorable children's story about an important subject. The story: Max and Lila are celebrating..."
The Crystal of Gaea. Aki and the Spheres of Time #5
 
5.0
"Aki and Lilith are off on another exciting adventure, this time to the world of Ancient Greek mythology. This..."
The Crystal of Gaea. Aki and the Spheres of Time #5
 
5.0
"Another amazing adventure of Aki on the Parallel Crystal"
La Petite Josette en Provence: Going to Les Baux-de-Provence (Voyage aux Baux-de-Provence)
 
4.2
"'La Petite Josette En Provence' by Ashley Davidson-Fisher, illustrated by Martinique Louise Fisher, who so happens to be the author's..."
Cloud of Witnesses
 
4.4
"The Lifters Dave Eggers, Alfred A. Knopf, 2018 Is magic enough to fix the morass of Middle America? Are..."
Ranch Hero
 
4.8
"This story deals with loss, which is usually a very sensitive and difficult subject, in an uplifting and entertaining way..."
The Black and White Ball
 
5.0
"This is a delightful story about a very vain peacock who sets about ensuring he is the most beautiful creature..."
 
5.0
"Good book for middle school kids- a true snapshot of the struggle to fit in the middle school social scene..."
The Crystal of Rea Silvia. Aki and the Spheres of Time #4
 
5.0
"The book was just simply great! Surprises, twists and stuffs! Well I just loved Aki and his amazing adventures!..."
The Crystal of Rea Silvia. Aki and the Spheres of Time #4
 
5.0
"This exciting fourth adventure begins with Aki learning about a startling family secret and having to choose between telling the..."
Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13
 
4.5
"'Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13' by Barbara Roman, illustrated by Vladimir Cebu, is a sweet..."
Sal the Seagull Stole My Lunch
 
4.2
"This one is a lot of fun. Joe and Mary are getting ready to have a picnic at..."
 
4.8
"As a mother and tutor for young children, I highly recommend this novel to add to your children's book shelves...."
The Year Santa Stubbed His Toe
 
4.0
"Santa has always been there to deliver gifts to the good boys and girls around the world, but this year,..."
Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13
 
N/A
"Have you ever noticed how people are like light bulbs? They come in many sizes and shapes, varying in their..."
Felipe Femur
 
5.0
"While this book in occupied by a cast of monsters, it is far from scary. It is also not solely..."
The Crystal Of Atum. Aki and the Spheres of Time #3
 
5.0
"I am so pleased by The Crystal of Atum. I love Aki and the Spheres of Time series. This book..."
The Crystal Of Atum. Aki and the Spheres of Time #3
 
4.8
"This is Aki’s third trip with the Sphere of Time. As usual, he ends up nowhere near the spot where..."