Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

As Marie Lu, author of the Legend Trilogy (which I am not a fan of, in case anyone was wondering) aptly said, this book is “wholly unique and utterly captivating”. It truly is. I started off a skeptic, because the whole “found documents/recordings/we blacked out half the words” thing was a bit offputting, but the story and the execution of this unique writing style quickly drew me in. And then blew me away with its originality and complexity.

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.


As mentioned, I started off feeling quite skeptical about the writing style of this book, however as skeptical as I was, I was also equally intrigued. I’d heard good, no great things about the book, and the odd found documents style wasn’t so off-putting as to turn me away from the book.

Things I Liked:

  • The complexity of the story. Kaufman and Kristoff did a fantastic job weaving an intricate tale in this novel, especially in regards to differentiating and merging the two main plot points.
  • The pace of the story was also quite well done. It never got so slow that I felt bored, but it also never became too overwhelming. The plot was evenly paced, building to an eventual, inevitable climax that felt well-timed (how could it not, with a built in doom-clock every couple pages?).
  • Those pages. If you’ve read the book, you know which ones I’m talking about – the cool pages that are more artwork than story, more visual than reading. It’s something I’ve never experienced while reading a book before, and it was super cool.
  • The ending.

Things I Didn’t Like:

  • The whole teen-romance-star-crossed-lovers-end-of-the-world deal that was basically the driving force of the plot. Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve said before, i love a good romance, but it just seemed unnecessary to the story. In addition, it really detracted from the originality of the plot for me; YA fiction has become far too saturated with star-crossed lovers who always seems breaths apart. Give me romance and a relationship, or give me a good story, not something in between.


So basically, I really loved this book. Illuminae is a much needed, refreshing read that was both original and exciting. While the story may not have been as original as it could have been, essentially using the star-crossed lovers as a crutch, the writing style and pace of the plot kept me hooked, and had me loving the book more than I disliked it. Overall, I’d definitely recommend reading Illuminae in your down-time this summer!

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