Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

IlluminaeI’m always looking for book recommendations, because seriously, who isn’t? 🤷🏻‍♀️ And by far, the book that has been mentioned most often is Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. From comments like, “It’ll blow your mind,” to, “You won’t be able to put it down,” to the very popular, “IT WILL DESTROY YOU AND YOU WILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT 😭,” I knew I had to read it. (Sure, it took me 2+ years to do so, but better late than never, right…? 😅)

And listen. All of those comments were true. This book is incredible! It’s sort of a space opera with The Walking Dead vibes and some Ex Machina-esque AI creepiness combined in one fast-paced, heart-stopping adventure/horror/war/espionage story. It’s no surprise that the movie rights sold shortly after the book’s publication (although it’s hard to tell if anything is currently in production, and I do wonder how they would adapt certain parts). In short: I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it. Here are my thoughts…

What I Liked:

  • It’s a futuristic story set in outer space. There’s a war between rival tech companies, with military personnel and refugees caught in the middle. Throw in some deep, dark secrets, a possibly-homicidal AI, a mutating pathogen that renders its victims vicious and insane, and a race against the clock, and you’ve got an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will absolutely leave you desperate for the next book. 😱
  • This book is unlike anything else I’ve read, mostly because of the way the story is told — through internal memos, emails, instant message conversations, surveillance footage summaries, and so much more. (You might be saying, “Oh, well that’s just an epistolary novel. I’ve read those before,” but it’s different in some distinct and memorable ways.) And it may look like a long read — 608 pages! — but trust me when I say that, once you start reading, you will speed through this book.
  • Kady and Ezra are such believable, relatable characters. I mean, imagine you’re a teenager who’s had everything taken from you — your life, your family, everything comforting and familiar… What they go through is just insane. And yet they both still come out swinging, whether it’s with a Cyclone fighter spacecraft or hundreds upon hundreds of lines of code.
  • <error> (Read this book. You’ll get it, I promise. 😁)

What I Disliked: While I was totally cheering for Kady and Ezra the whole time, I didn’t care all that much about their romantic relationship. I KNOW, I’M SORRY, I’M A HEARTLESS MONSTER. 🙃 But I guess I was more interested in everything else that was going on. I do understand that Ezra is all Kady has left, and vice versa. I just… wasn’t invested? DON’T @ ME.

Anyway, I loved this book, and I would honestly recommend it to sci-fi fans of all ages. If you do read it (AND YOU SHOULD), I have a couple of small suggestions:
1. Don’t read the e-book edition. Because of the unique way this book is formatted, it just doesn’t look the same on an e-reader, tablet, or phone as it does on a physical page. You miss out on a lot of cool content that way, so I would definitely suggest reading a physical copy if at all possible. (I’ve also heard good things about the audiobook, but again, this is a very visual book, so just keep that in mind before selecting your preferred format.)
2. Have the next book, Gemina, ready and waiting for when you’ve finished this one, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll be VERY ready to keep reading.
3. Avoid as many spoilers as you can. This book has some truly awesome twists and turns, and it’s much more fun going into it with no knowledge of them.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Other Books in This Series:
Gemina
Obsidio
Other Books by Amie Kaufman:
Elementals: Ice Wolves
Unearthed (co-written with Meagan Spooner)
These Broken Stars
This Shattered World
Their Fractured Light
Other Books by Jay Kristoff:
Stormdancer
Kinslayer
Endsinger
Nevernight
Godsgrave
Darkdawn
LIFEL1K3

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