Review: Illuminae

January 5, 2017 books, reviews 12

Illuminae book cover

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.

– from goodreads

I had high expectations in this book, and they were not disappointed. I’m so late to the party that the sequel is already out (which is a plus, because this way I don’t have to wait to read it), but that only means that I’ve read about how great and unique this book is ever since it’s been published. I’m often wary of books that are hyped this much, but I had a good feeling with this one. YA scifi? Megalomaniac AIs? Invasions? What could go wrong.

This book could have featured a lot of exposition, but instead we’re just thrown right into the action. I hate reading pages and pages of description when it can be avoided, so that was a definite plus. It didn’t take long to get to know the main players, and things just kept going from bad to worse to HOW ARE YOU EVEN STILL ALIVE. The book definitely doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to graphic violence. I’d say it’s placed firmly at the more mature end of the YA scale. Personally, I didn’t find it as unique as I kept hearing. Illuminae includes a lot of tried and true scifi scenarios, but it makes good use of them. There’s a twist I feel like I should have seen coming but didn’t that added an entire extra star to my rating.

I liked that the characters were flawed. Kady was mostly likeable, but she certainly had her moments. AIDAN should be renamed AWESOME, and I hope this character is heavily featured in the next books, because otherwise I will quit in protest. Ezra was a little too perfect, but I liked him overall. I was happy that there were a lot of women represented in important roles. The relationships were involving, which is why there were so many heartwrenching moments, because SO MANY PEOPLE DIE, you guys. Don’t get too attached (but you will). Something that really won me over was that the characters were often forced to decide between two horrible options without an easy out, something that reminded of The 100 (the TV show, I haven’t read the book), which is always a good thing.

I did have some problems with the book. The formatting was usually fine, but there were a few pages that were hard to read. I like that they tried to translate motions into formatting, but sometimes it was just a bit too creative to be readable. Additionally, there was a part in the middle of the book where things weren’t moving fast enough for me, and information and situations felt repetitive. Sometimes, I was a little doubtful of the probability of certain scenarios. I loved the teasing and snarkiness, but it was a little too heavily present in life or death moments.

Overall, a really good book. It was fun and hauntingly horrible at the same time, so I’ll give it a solid four cupcakes.


12 Responses to “Review: Illuminae”

  1. Greg

    Yes, I liked it too that sometimes there no good options. Comparing it to The 100 is kind of apt. I didn’t love it as much as some but I thought it was solid and quite good, and the unique format was fun. I had no problem reading it as an ebook either, well maybe a little, but not enough to care. There are some freaky moments, definitely, and “HOW ARE YOU EVEN STILL ALIVE”? LOL exactly. I wondered that a few times. :)

    Nice review.
    Greg recently posted…StarflightMy Profile

  2. Benish

    I have a copy of this book stashed in my bookshelf for the longest, and I still haven’t read it yet lol thanks for the wonderful review and the push to read it ASAP.

  3. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    OMG THAT IS WHY I LOVED IT. It DOES remind me of The 100, now that you mention it! GOOD CALL, VLORA! (Maybe I should stop caps-yelling at you now, hmmm? But this was very astute, I approve!) I had the reading problems with Gemina- as in, my elderly eyes hurt from trying to read gray-on-black writing. Like come on guys, my eyes. I loved it, I think I did find it super unique? Not necessarily in plot (although kind of in plot, though admittedly, I have not read many books in space) but the formatting just made it such a great one for me. And I loved the characters, too! Great review!
    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted…Sad, Neglected, and Not Read in 2016My Profile

  4. Lola

    Discovering a book late sometimes is a good thing as you have to wait less long for the next book. I haven’t read this one and still not sure if it’s a book for me, but it’s been fun hearing everyone’s thoughts about this one. I always enjoy flawed characters as it makes them feel more realistic, so I am glad to hear this book had that. Great review!
    Lola recently posted…Review: Speak No Evil by Jordan FordMy Profile

    • Vlora


      Yes, exactly! I used to wait until a series was finished before I read the first book, because I hated waiting, but now I’m so busy I don’t often read the sequels right away anyway, so I’ve become more adventurous. :D Yeah, sometimes a book just isn’t for you, but glad you liked the reviews regardless. :)
      Vlora recently posted…Conventions and an Avalanche of BooksMy Profile

  5. Olivia Roach

    I have not had the chance to buy or read this one yet. Mostly because I am stubborn. I’ve heard about the brilliant formatting and seen beautiful hardcovers so now I refuse to buy a kindle or paperback edition. Not gonna be reading this one till I have a hardcover in my hands :D But I really like the sound of the characters and the plot as well. Quite a few other reviews have also mentioned the dip in the middle in terms of pacing though, so I’ll be ready for it. Hope you get to Gemina soon!

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