Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff Review: DOES NOT COMPUTE

November 6, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff Review: DOES NOT COMPUTEIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Allen & Unwin on November 1, 2015
Source: Publisher
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


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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57 responses to “Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff Review: DOES NOT COMPUTE

  1. danielleisbusyreading

    Lovely review, Jeann! This book absolutely blew me away. I love how the story was told, and that we still get such a great picture of Kady and Ezra's personalities. Both characters still stood out so much to me. And their romance! One of my favorites.

  2. As soon as I saw this one popping up on instagram hauls I went out and bought it and it sounds like I didn't make a mistake-I'm SO excited to start this. It's a little sad that we don't get to really establish a connection to the characters personally but everything else seems great, and I absolutely love a book that can make me laugh. Nice review 🙂
    My recent post Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

  3. I think everyone is a ball of messy emotions after reading this book! GAH. SO MUCH BRILLIANCE. Although you do bring up an interesting point about how we never get to experience what's inside of the characters' heads. But I think the creative way with how they did this made up for that fact. Because we get to see the WHOLE of these people, and not just THEIR own perspectives and experiences. It's basically 3rd person, right, except we're not actually in their perspective? I don't know, but it was damn good. Loved your review, Jeann! 🙂
    My recent post The NaNoWriMo Tag

    • I completely agree, it was done so creatively and I liked Kady's diary portions which allowed us to see that you know? It was done really well, at first I worried about how it would be told and how we would connect to the story but turns out I didn't have to worry about that. Thank you Holly! Hope you're doing well with Nano!

  4. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    This book was incredible. AIDAN's voice was definitely one of my favorite parts. I think it's one of the most realistic depictions of AI I've read/seen in a very long time. I think the most terrifying thing about the virus was that even though they were "zombies", they appeared to still have conscious thought… GAH it was terrifying to think about it like that. I'm in a huge book hangover, seriously!

    • I know, I haven't read a book with an AI character before so it was amazing to hear his point of view. They were fast, intelligent zombies which made it even scarier I reckon! It gave me a huge hangover as well!

  5. Eugenia

    OMG I HAVE SEEN SO MUCH RAVING ABOUT THIS BOOK! I feel weird that I haven't read it yet but when I do I am expecting big things 🙂 The unique format definitely seems to set this book apart, and when it comes to a sci-fi adventure executed well, it can't get much better than that! Thanks for the fantastic review Jeann 🙂

  6. Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm

    Wow this sounds so good. I've been putting off reading it because I know it's a series and I was hoping I could just binge it one day, but I don't think I can resist! I had no idea until your review that it had ZOMBIES. I love zombies. I need to read this ASAP!
    My recent post #T5W: Top Authors I Discovered This Year

  7. LOVED this book. I feel like I have nothing to say other than like, "holy crap, HOW?" How did the authors do this?! I want to just sit in front of them and interrogate them and then inquire if maybe they are some kind of wizards? Because how they had me so emotionally connected to computers and people who never actually told the story is beyond me. It's just brillianT! Fabulous review, far more coherent than mine would be 😉
    My recent post This Week At Midnight (86)

    • I know right? It just felt like a beautiful visual medium and a great way to tell a story, it was just done so well! HAha thank you so much, I tried 😉

  8. YES TO THIS! I am so glad you liked this as much as I did. It's such an amazing book, isn't it? Kady is so kickass, and Ezro is hilarious. And the twists and turns are just mind-blowing. So glad you liked it so much Jeann, and thanks for sharing! <3

    "Am I not merciful?"

  9. Kara Terzis

    I literally have NOT read one bad review of this book so far! Gah. It looks so brilliant. I have this sitting on my shelf just waiting to be devoured–and every time I look through it, I'm blown away by how amazing the art is. <3

  10. aentee @ read at midnight

    Although I had some problems with this book, I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I agree that the designs were stunning, kudos to the designer for pulling it off. Aidan was my favourite character in the book 😀

  11. Yes the hype is reallllll! For me, the format was a change, and I thought I also wasn't going to be affected by these characters because how could that possibly happen through case files and chats and the likes? Well I was wrong big time lol.

    So glad you enjoyed this just as much as I did Jeann!

  12. booksbonesbuffy

    Couldn't agree more Jeann! Such a fun experience, right? I thought they did a great job with the action scenes too, since everything has already happened, but it feels very immediate. Awesome review!


  14. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    Everyone loves this!! So glad it is living up to the hype. I am so excited to get this because it just sounds (and looks) amazing. I am still a little worried how the story will move along with this format but I am sure it will be fin. Great review!
    My recent post Review ~ The Murderer’s Daughter

  15. I was very hesitant to add this book to my TBR because I prefer tradional writing format. But couple of days ago I caved in and purchased it from Bookdepository. Now while I wait for it to arrive, this review is heaven sent! Your review makes me sooo super excited to read it. Especially after your comment about how "it’s for the intelligent reader and I think I’ll have to read it again to grasp fully". Guess I am in for another Matrix 🙂
    My recent post NO MORE WAITING #4: Fire and Thorns series

  16. AFDJAKLSD I AM SO EXCITED TO START THIS I AM BASICALLY FLAPPING AROUND LIKE A DERANGED OCTOPI!! Actually, I have to finish Mosquitoland first. XD And then I have to decide between Illuminae and Every Word and it's looking to be a very hard decision. hehehhh. But still! I'm so excited and so glad you totally adored it! 😀

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