by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Well, this novel certainly caught me by surprise. It came to my attention via a NetGalley email and I thought, “Heck, why not?” I’m starting to ease my way, slowly, into mainstream science fiction. Maybe too slowly, as my husband, when I was explaining this book, kept saying…”Oh, that’s like X or that’s like Y. Haven’t you read that yet?” There are so many hours in the day, y’know? ?This is not your standard novel and I want to get my hands on a physical copy. Told in military communication documents, instant messages and pictures, Illuminae takes you on an adventure that is one part 2001: A Space Odyssey and one part The Walking Dead.
I loved Kady and Ezra, the main characters. Separated after the planet they lived on is blown to bits, they relied on one another to gather information and decipher what the commanders of their respective ships were hiding and how AIDAN, the AI on Ezra’s ship, was involved. Since the narrative is a bit unconventional, the reader puts the pieces together along with Kady. She’s the hacker (think Lizbeth Salander without the extreme hatred). When the reveal happens, it makes sense and it’s intense.
There are some sections that pack a punch emotionally. At least twice I was nearly reduced to tears…in public (this is what happens when you spend lots of time in the last month in doctor’s offices). The inevitable happened to at least one secondary character and even though you only get to know that character peripherally, the authors knew how to pack a punch. Wow.
There are only two negatives for me when it came to reading this novel and one of them may be purely a function of the format that I was reading it in.
- I chose to read Illuminae as an PDF using iBooks. There are points in novel where events are shared pictorially. I could not read these pages. In the end, I don’t think I missed any major plot points, but it was a bit frustrating.
- See the screenshot. Yeah, I couldn’t zoom in or blow that up to see what it actually said. I’m sure it wasn’t uber important, but damn, what the hell does it say?
The ending. I’m not sure I enjoyed it. I’m talking the last bit that starts with “Surveillance Footage summary, prepared by Illuminae Group Analyst ID 7213-0089-DN.” I’m sure I can’t say much more without it being a huge spoiler. I’m sure some readers figured it out. I suppose I was in denial and was hopeful the authors wouldn’t take an obvious route, but they did which bummed me out.
Is Illuminae worth the read? Definitely. It’s a tightly written novel told in an unusual way. It will appeal to those who love space adventures, suspense and sentient AIs.