book review

Book Review in which I fangirl over ‘Illuminae’ a little, okay a lot


Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1). Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Rock the Boat. October 2015.

The year is 2575 and two mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice covered speck.  Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it.  With enemy fire raining down on them Ezra and Kady have to make their escape on the evacuating fleet.  But their troubles are just beginning.  A deadly plague has broken out on one of the space ships and it is mutating with terrifying results.  Their ships protection is seriously flawed.   No one will say what is going on. 

As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth its clear only one person can help her. Ezra. And the only problem with that is they split up before all this trouble started and she isn’t supposed to be talking to him…

I picked this book up at YALC last year because of HYPE, and it has sat on my shelf for almost a year gathering dust because I kept on looking at it and wondering why I had bought it. Sci-Fi isn’t my favourite genre, I’m not usually interested in anything to do with space, and it looked so long and intimidating.  But, on a whim a few days ago, I decided to finally give it a try, and OMG… I was utterly, utterly blown away by this book.

(Prepare yourself for ABSOLUTELY tons of unnecessary adverbs in this review because I got REALLY excited and expressed it by saying ‘TOTALLY’ an inappopriate amount of times!)

I was totally wrong to be intimidated by this book. I absolutely flew through the pages, because the plot was so fast paced and addictive. It may look gigantically long, and granted, it’s not a read-in-one-sitting kind of book, but it’s a much quicker read than you might imagine because of its format. The story is told using all different kinds of media; reports, interview transcripts, IM messages, pictures… There was something new and interesting to look at on every page, so I zipped through the book, totally absorbed. By the time I got to the end, I actually wished there was another 599 pages of it. (I’ve just ordered both sequels and it’s killing me that I have to wait even 24 hours to start devouring Gemina). This book is such a unique, visual experience, that you really do need to get your hands on a physical copy if you can (although I have heard good things about the audiobook!). The production that went into this book is incredible, and the whole thing is basically a stunning masterpiece I could stare at all day.

I loved the characters in this book: Ezra, Kady, and even AIDAN, the possibly insane Artificial Intelligence controlling the Alexander, the largest ship harbouring refugees from Ezra and Kady’s invaded planet. Ezra was a sweetheart; he had a romantic soul, and I would normally find some of the things he said to Kady sappy, but somehow he was cool enough and genuine enough to pull them off. Kady was just this TOTAL BADASS. I admired her so much, because she showed such bravery in the face of situations she was clearly utterly terrified of. I legit punched my fist in the air and cheered ‘YESSSS’ at basically everything she did.

And AIDAN… how do I even begin to explain AIDAN? Such a complex character, whose presence in the story had me asking so many questions. Could an Artificial Intelligence have feelings? Could it have a conscience? Could it make the wrong decisions, and should it be blamed for their outcomes? I loved all of the sections in the book made up of messages from AIDAN’s core. AIDAN’s thoughts were unexpectedly beautiful, eerie, and poetic… In fact, AIDAN subtly referenced quite a lot of the poems that I studied at university, so the English Lit graduate in me was geeking out every time I spotted one.

The plot of this book is so, so tense. At the beginning we are thrown straight into the action, and the stakes just keep getting higher and higher. There are some brilliant twists I did not see coming, and some genuinely creepy-as-hell moments. I mean, the characters are being pursued from so many different directions, and there was never a moment where I didn’t consider the possibility of them all dying horrific deaths. I read this book late into the night several times and it gave me super-intense, scary dreams about being chased because I was so charged up with excitement and adrenaline after reading. Even now I have finished the book, I am buzzing, and I am so, so ready for tomorrow to come so I can read the next book. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

If you’re unsure about picking up Illuminae because Sci-Fi’s not your thang, or you are scared of big books (I hear you), trust me when I say you will not regret reading this one. It was completely out of my personal comfort zone, but I inhaled it, and I sacrificed sleep to do so. I fell in love with the characters, freaked out many times, welled up with ALL THE EMOTIONS, and basically had the most amazing time soaking up the epicness and GLORY of this book. THIS IS DEFINITELY THE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ SO FAR THIS YEAR.

If you loved this book as much as I did, please do stop by and SQUEAL with me about it. If you haven’t read it yet, WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE?!?!?


10 thoughts on “Book Review in which I fangirl over ‘Illuminae’ a little, okay a lot”

  1. I’m so glad to hear you loved this book so much! I felt the same way about it, at first, I wanted to pick it up because of the hype, but I was so nervous because it’s not my usual kind of read. I ended up really enjoying it though, the storytelling was so unique and the characters were amazing 😀

    1. Yes I was nervous too! Such a fantastic book though. Glad you felt the same way 😀 Have you read the sequels? I’m about 75% through Gemina now, and it’s sooo good.

      1. Gemina was amazing! I loved Obsidio, although I don’t think I loved it quite as much as the other two books. It was still an amazing finale though. I hope you enjoy it when you get to reading it 😀

  2. Oh my god I love your review and I am so so glad you ended up loving Illuminae as well. 😀 I was a little scared about reading this one when I first did, because at the time sci-fi wasn’t a major genre for me so I wasn’t sure if I’d love it and the hype was insane. But I did end up getting around to it and I loved it. I really hope you enjoy Gemina and Obsidio too, you’ve got the best to come I think. 🙂
    Great review.

    1. Aww thanks so much Beth! 🙂 Sci-fi’s not usually my thing either, but I think I am going to check out more after reading this book, as I really loved it. Which is your favourite book in the series? I’m about 3/4 Gemina now and loving that one too, and I have Obsidio so I can start reading it as soon as I finish Gemina 😀

      1. That’s all right, and ohh I hope you love Gemina and Obsidio just as much then. 😀 When it comes to sci-fi I don’t think you can go wrong with anything Amie Kaufman has written, her Starbound trilogy but Meagan Spooner is amazing. Also Becky Chambers Wayfarers books are brilliant. 🙂

      2. Ooh thank you, I definitely want to check some of these books out, especially the Becky Chambers ones – I’ve heard good things!

  3. Ahhh I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this one. I bought it right when it came out, but like you it has sat on my shelf collecting dust. I kept putting it off… then I decided I would wait until the series was complete…NOW I have zero excuses lol

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