There was a lot of hype surrounding this book leading up to its release. I didn’t read it right away, because I was afraid of being disappointed.
I wasn’t. It more than surpasses expectations.
So. Take an artificial intelligence that goes off the deep end, add collapsing space-time, throw in an exploding planet and an intergalactic war between megacorporations, plus an insanity-causing deadly plague that spreads like the aforementioned exploding planet, toss in a dash of teenage romance just to spice it up, and you have book one in The Illuminae Files trilogy. Mind? Prepare to be blown.
In the year 2575, 17 year old hacker genius Kady Grant breaks up with Ezra Mason, and really isn’t looking forward to facing him in school. But then Kerenza, their ice-bound speck of a planet in the far reaches of the galaxy, is invaded by BeiTech, and the ensuing destruction makes her reevaluate her priorities. Number one is no longer avoiding eye contact. Now it is survival. Kady and Ezra fight their way through explosions to the evacuation ships, where they are separated.
And that’s just the beginning. They are not out of the woods yet. As the ships travel across the universe looking for safety, they are pursued and attacked, the plague spreads, and the AI that is supposed to guide them and keep them safe seems to have become an evil overlord. Ezra is conscripted as a Cyclone pilot to help with defence, and Kady uses her hacking skills to find the truth. And Ezra and she learn they have to depend on each other to survive.
This book is written with the sci-fi/fantasy/thriller loving reader in mind. Fans of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek and Firefly will see shades of all the beloved series throughout the plot. That is not a complaint (I love them all), it is a compliment. Illuminae is one spectacular thrill ride.
This isn’t your average novel. Authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have put together pages of hacked e-mails, interviews and documents, along with security footage, stolen medical reports and military files, to tell, by far, one of the COOLEST stories ever.
The characters are fabulous, the world building AMAZING (just the entire galaxy) and the plot an absolute page turner. It is a huge book (600 pages!) but the story never drags.
Ezra and Kady are great characters. Kady is not your typical YA heroine; yes, she is smart and independent, but she is also an antisocial computer nerd, used to getting her own way, not an overly friendly person. Ezra seems weak by comparison at first, but that changes as he discovers his own courage and drive to expose the truth of what happened on Kerenza. And he is funny. The secondary characters are ALL, without exception, a perfect supporting cast.
Because of the unique story-telling style, there isn’t an info dump anywhere in the novel. You have to pay attention to every sentence to get the information, because the course can change with one short e-mail. And the ending!! I don’t know when the second book is due out, but I think I might actually need time to recover from the first…
And holy crap. LOOK at that cover. If you can do it, it is worth the price to get the hardcover edition, just to hold it in your hands. Gorgeous. Not to mention the fact that so much of the story is in the visuals, and an e-copy just can’t do it justice.
Illuminae is published by by Knopf Books for Young Readers.