Book Review: Illuminae

Rating: Fire star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920

After hardcore fangirling over the Starbound trilogy for all of my days, I finally read Illuminae (I’m still waiting to read Hunted). And let me tell you, THIS WAS JUST AS GOOD. It had all the plot twists and tense moments I love in the Starbound trilogy as well as the multi-dimensional characters and overall space battles. AND it was told in a completely cool format that I was wary of in the beginning but definitely grew on me by the end.

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Kady and Ezra are just going through a normal, everyday, heartbreaking break up when their planet gets attacked. Suddenly they’re fighting for their lives. When they get taken onto different spaceships to flee the attackers, everything seems fine, until they start realizing that something seems a bit…fishy. There’s a deadly plague that has broken out and is mutating, a crazy AI system that seems to be turning on itself, and the ship’s fleet that is hiding information from everyone on it. Naturally, Kady starts hacking into data and documents and etc., but it seems that Ezra is the only person that can help.

OH. MY. GOD. SO. MANY. FREAKING. PLOT. TWISTS. This book is like whiplash with all the plot twists and I am LOVING IT. While in the beginning it was a little slow, by the end it was so fast paced I was flipping through the book so fast.

Book quote graphic-2I hate that I keep comparing it to the Starbound Trilogy, but the plots are pretty similar in that they are so messy (IN A GOOD WAY I PROMISE). You never know where anyone or anything stands and what’s going to become important. Enemies come out of nowhere and plot twists are literally just thrown willy nilly. Right when you think the worst possible thing has happened…BOOM! Another heartbreaking moment occurs and you’re left wondering how anyone is surviving this.

I keep using the same words to describe this book, but it really has everything you’ve ever wanted in a sci fi book. Space battles, insane corporations, evil (?) artificial intelligence, hacking, viruses, government conspiracies. Name something typical about sci-fi, and this book has it. While some things are a bit too scientific for me it’s never too much so that I can’t understand what’s happening (well, that I don’t unintentionally not understand because I’m pretty sure Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff want there to be some misunderstandings and confusion).

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It was originally the format of this book that turned me off from reading it. It’s told entirely from hacked documents, emails, military reports, audio recordings, interviews, and any other type of document. There is no typical narration, and originally I was wary of this. How could a story be told so well if there’s no descriptors or internal thought, only dialogue? But fear not! While in the beginning it makes it a bit hard to get into, by the end it flows so well you’re wondering how it WOULD be able to be told any other way.

The only thing I will say about this format is that while it worked spectacularly for the plot, I thought it created a bit of disconnect from the characters. We only get to know them from what they present to the world, not from the inside and how others perceive them, so I felt less connected to them. Don’t get me wrong, I still felt sad when all the sad moments happened, but I didn’t cry like I was expecting to (and there were a ton of cry-worthy moments). And I still liked them a lot and thought they were great characters, but I just felt disconnected. I think that as the series goes on though I’ll get used to the format and then still become connected to the characters anyway.

But you must do one thing. YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK IN PHYSICAL FORM. No eBooks here! There is absolutely no way the eBook can do this justice with all the different media forms and images used.

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With that said, let me introduce the amazing characters of this book.

We have Kady Grant, the pink haired spunky hacker. She is so incredibly badass. SheBook quote graphic-3 takes no one’s sh*t, and is so strong and resilient. She bounces back from things that should’ve crushed her. I mean, everything is taken from her and yet here she is, fighting this space corporation with everything she’s got. It’s surprising how she can be so strong nd capable yet break my heart so easily. Because her heart is hugeShe hides it by acting so tough but really she cares so strongly about other people and is the ultimate hero. She is willing to sacrifice everything just for others and she doesn’t deserve all the heartache she got.

Then we have Ezra Miller, the romantic sweet and innocent military person. I just wanted to bundle him up and keep him safe. All he ever wanted was for Kady to love him and he is just so pure!

Since I’m a giant ball of cheese and therefore love other balls of cheese, I was rooting for Kady and Ezra’s romance from the start. They fought, the got on each other’s nerves, but they loved each other SO MUCH and honestly would die for the other person. Their conversations were oh so sweet and definitely cheesy but the good kind, where it added a nice lighthearted touch to the whole fighting for their lives and quite possibly might die bit. 

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And we have AIDEN, the “villain”? Somehow these authors manage to make you love an artificial intelligence system. I’m still not sure how it was done, but it was. I felt sympathy for it! And It isn’t even a human! And somehow AIDEN has the most character growth in the entire novel. huh???????? I STILL DON’T KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED BUT IT DID. Even though it was clearly insane I loved it and hated when it went into self doubting mode.

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Overall impression: READ THIS BOOK! Read it and love it and become engrossed in it and cry at the heartbreaking moments (because trust me, there are heartbreaking moments) and sit in shock after you finish thinking “I don’t know what it was that I just read and I have no words but wow did I love it”. Because you will.

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31 thoughts on “Book Review: Illuminae

  1. onespeculiar says:

    illuminae was AMAZING i’ve not read that many YA sci-fi i wasn’t that intrigued. but illuminae was something else! Lady and Ezra are the sweetest the way you described them is the exact same way of how i feel about them and AIDEN!! i wasn’t expecting the plot twists and i wasn’t expecting to find an AI that interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kirstychronicles says:

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I’ve read the first book in the starbound trilogy and really enjoyed it so I have a sneaky suspicion that I’ll like this as well. Plus the formatting does sound so interesting! Great review πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sydney @ Fire and Rain Books says:

      I love love love love love the Starbound Trilogy! One of my favorite series EVER. This book is similar in all the good ways but also different in good ways. And the writing is just as beautiful although a different format. But the Starbound Trilogy also has a bit of an interesting format as you’ll find out if you keep reading. Thank you ❀️


  3. Sophie Li says:

    Hi Sydney!
    I am listening to the audiobook of Illuminae (around 30% through). I wasn’t used to the format in the beginning (the narrator reads out when each message/briefing note is written, etc), but I think I am liking this version so far. They have 4 different narrators and they added in some sound effects and background music for certain scenes, which I like! After reading your review, i am curious what the actual book is like! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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