Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

Title: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Author: Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA/sci-fi
Date Read:
25/01/2016 – 27/01/2016
Rating: ★★★★


illuminae I’m probably going to forget half the things I wanted to mention in this review, but I’ll try my best to make it a good one anyway. Reading Illuminae was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. For the first 200 pages, I didn’t think it would get more than 3 stars, then for a while it went up to 5 stars, but there were enough things to annoy me that I brought it back down a little.

Kady and Ezra just broke up this morning, and then their planet was invaded. Evacuated and on a six-month journey towards safety, they have to deal not only with being separated (because maybe they didn’t actually want to break up), but also with a deadly virus, a psychopathic AI, and moral quandaries that most 17-year-olds would much rather avoid.

This book is written in a very unique format. The text is basically the book equivalent of a “found footage” movie. It’s a dossier of emails, IMs, security footage analysis, computer logs, etc. It was very clever, though it did leave little room for really good character development. It also got hard to read at times. There were literally pages I skipped because I had no idea which direction the text went in. Thankfully, those pages were more philosophical than plot-related, so I didn’t miss much.  (Also, I pity those of you reading it on a Kindle; I was reading the paperback and it was difficult enough!)

Maybe I’m just being cynical and nit-picky but I also felt that the book used its format to disguise the fact that the story itself wasn’t quite as original as it pretended to be. I mean, sure, there’s probably not a huge amount left you can do with self-aware AIs that hasn’t been done in some form before, but I literally had the voice of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey in my head for that character; they just felt so alike. Having said that, AIDAN was actually one of my favourite characters.

I never felt Kady had much development beyond kick-ass teenage girl. She had reason to be all hardened and cynical, but I would have liked some nuance in there somewhere. She made some choices that I really questioned, and it wasn’t because she wanted to save the 1000 people over on that other ship, it was because she wanted to save her boyfriend. If the other 1000 people got saved, that was a bonus. I also got tripped up by inconsistencies like “her hazmat suit is too big for her” including the sleeves and presumably the gloves as well, but she is managing to type IMs on a tablet just fine.

Ezra was a bit better because he seemed to actually have some friends, so we got a bit more depth out of him through his relationships with these other soldiers.  But still, there were so many occasions of them IMing each and just being lovesick at each other (despite the fact that Kady is having to hack the official systems just to get in touch with Ezra) that I didn’t really warm to either of them very much. There were some good side characters, but they never really played huge parts, unfortunately.

This is the first in a series, but I’m not 100% sure I’d be up to reading a second book in the same format. Still, I’ll wait and see.

#WWW Wednesday – 27 January, 2016

My Internet connection is being a bit dodgy tonight, but hopefully I will be able to get this posted.

First up today is WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. Click on her blog and go to today’s post to add your own link. All you need to do is answer the three questions.


Apparently this guy is known on the Internet as Unpopular Opinion Puffin. He is appropriate here.

  • What are you currently reading?

I’m just under 100 pages away from the end of Illuminae and I have dissenting opinions about it! Like, it’s probably only going to get a 3.5-4/5 from me and the rest of you have all been giving it five stars kind of dissenting opinions. Mostly my issues extend from it being a cool idea in theory, but being actually kind of hard to read in practice, and some character stuff that I’ve found irritating.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I read The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter last week. I enjoyed it though I wasn’t always sure exactly what message she was going for.

I also finished The Book of Shades by K. C. Finn. It ended up being quite different from what I expected, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. I definitely want to read the rest of the series.

Upon realising that I was only 45% of the way through it and feeling like it had been going on forever, I actually gave up on Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. It just wasn’t as funny as I expected it to be, and there were things that made sense in the original story that were altered in such a way to not make sense in this. It was really bizarre just how much time people spent at sea, or in the presence of the sea monsters given how deadly they are.

I do still want to get through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies before the movie comes out next month.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Probably The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris. Of the three books I have from the library, that’s the one I’m keenest to try. Books that I randomly pick up because they are on display and have pretty covers get less time to impress me than books I’ve had on my TBR though, so we’ll see if I get into it or not.

I think I might leave it there today and not worry about WIPpet Wednesday this week. I want to finish Illuminae and also I am really tired. And I haven’t been writing much this week because I’ve been trying to actually make sense of the timeline for Worlds Apart. However, if you are a fan of encouraging writers who share snippets of their work, you should click the little blue guy up to the right regardless, and go shower some praise (or constructive criticism) on the other WIPpeteers.