Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Allen & Unwin on November 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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 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 to each other—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.
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.
I am just a ball of emotion right now. A rollercoaster of feels. A basket of incomprehensible emotions.
What a stunning way to tell a story! The most attractive thing about Illuminae is the way it tells a story through a range of data files – interviews, chat logs, surveillance footage wrapups and the thoughts of AIDAN, an A.I. computer. Watching Illuminae unfold is like a visual feast for the eyes, it is amazing.
The downside to the creative formatting of the book, is that we never really get to feel and experience what is inside the characters’ heads. We simply witness how they say things through their chat logs, their actions through the surveillance footage and their conversations they have with the people around them. This is genius though, because through this, we still get a picture of who Kady is. The brave, fierce, intelligent and snarky hacker who has a heart full of love and longing. And also who Ezra is, the hilarious, romantic and loyal soldier who cares so much about his team, and his regret for letting Kady go.
“I wonder if she is the kind to dream of happy endings and never risk tragedy. The kind to close her eyes and hope, rather than force them open and see the truth, wonderful or terrible as it is. I do not wonder long.”
Basically two amazing, intelligent people who deserve one another. Through their flirty, hilarious snarky banter, the jokes that they make, their fears and their dreams for one another, you feel just how much they care for one another. And you long for them to reunite as much as they do and you just want them to have everything.
Illuminae is not just a love story though, it’s a sci-fi space opera, with zombies (pretty much my favourite thing ever). The heroes are on two different ships – the scientific space vessel Hypatia and the battleship Alexander, shuttling through space and they have a conspiracy to unravel. Through the book, we learn about the strange virus afflicting people onboard Alexander, the attempts to cover it up from those in high commands and their quest for survival. As with any zombie horde, things get pretty dire and all odds have to be faced for survival. It’s a thrilling visceral experience, and the artwork just makes it all the more impactful while reading.
“My databases show no record of this crazytown of which you speak. A brain the size of a city burns inside me. My intelligence quotient is beyond the human scale. I would prefer if you did not refer to me in such fashion.”
It also features the best AI voice I’ve ever experienced, AIDAN in all of his glory. He speaks in a very poetic, robotic tone, void of emotion, but as he gets broken up and worn down, it’s like he actually feels, and cares about human life. I loved AIDAN’s sarcasm and robotic humour.
While Illuminae was amazing, emotional and wonderfully experiential, I do think the story dragged at times, where I struggled to grasp the emotional weight of the situation. In place of words, pictures were used to display the impact of what I should be feeling, and at every tense moment I would be like WHATTT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS NOW. I guess that’s all a part of it though. The other thing is the finer detail of what is going on; the character tensions, the plotting and conspiracy is left up to the reader to put two and two together. I like how it’s for the intelligent reader and I think I’ll have to read it again to grasp fully.
Illuminae is an experiential space adventure that places the reader at the helm, handing you data files to read and understand what happened in space. With beautiful artwork, unique case files and some beautifully strong characters, it’s an emotional, memorable and intelligent read. The hype for this book is real guys. Get on it.
Rating: 5 out of 5