Book Reviews · Original Posts

Book Review: Illuminae


WOW. Just, WOW. I’m suffering from a major book hangover right now. The cause of said hangover? Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

“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.”

This book picked me up and refused to let me go! I finished it in one day despite its massive size (it’s over 600 pages!).

The story of me and Illuminae is this: I needed a book to get me through this massive snowstorm we had this weekend. I bought it at Target, for $16. Now, I normally don’t buy books I’m not 100% sure I’ll love in hardcover, but I saw a few recommendations for this book online, and because of its unique formatting I knew my Kindle just wasn’t going to cut it this time.

The formatting of this book is unbelievable! I was a little skeptical at first that the characters wouldn’t be as developed in a book told entirely by a dossier of documents; in fact, I had no idea how documents would tell a story at all. Let me tell you that this book has more developed characters than many traditionally written novels I’ve read. There’s something so immediate about it, I felt as if I was Kady through most of the story. The characterization of every character is unbelievable! Even the minor characters are fleshed out to a degree I’ve rarely seen before. What Illuminae does a great, great job of exploring is the real complexities of what it means to be human. Not only does the plot line involving an AI named AIDAN emphasize these traits, but every single character is so human. The most beautiful and most terrible things about humanity, about our struggle for survival, our moral struggles, the greater good, love- it’s all here, painted in such exquisite, real beauty. I feel as if I owe Kaufman and Kristoff a giant debt for what they have created here.

The actual writing style is fabulous, beautiful and quotable, including both hilarious, romantic, and deeply meaningful words, as well as some flowery description. A few examples:

“I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.”

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


“All he cares about here on the edge of forever, is her. He does not want to die. Not because he is afraid. Simply because he cannot bear the thought of leaving her behind.”

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

As I may have already mentioned, the main characters are fabulous! I love Kady, Ezra, and their story, and the side characters broke my heart with their beauty and their realness. The plot is thrilling, with unexpected twists and turns (though I admit the final twist I did predict, simply because I’m stubborn, not through poor writing). The love story is one of the most realistic, beautiful, not-cliche stories I’ve read in a long time. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK!! 🙂

My rating: INFINITY STARS. (Which is a wonderful pun :)) Now one of my all-time favorites!

A few notes for all of you before you grab a copy of Illuminae for furious reading!

  1. BUY THE PHYSICAL BOOK! I don’t see how this format will transfer effectively, and the physical copy (hardcover!!) is so gorgeous you won’t regret it.
  2. There is a lot of language in this book. It’s all censored, but if you have much imagination you’ll know exactly what’s being said. I personally thought this added to the realism, but if it’s not your thing, you’ve been warned. However, as the complier of our dossier says:

“Sure, the story kicks off with the deaths of thousands of people, but god forbid there be cussing in it, right?”

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Now, go go go!! Come see me with your book hangover! 😉

I’m actually desperate to talk about this book, so if you’ve read it, please comment.

“First, survive. Then tell the truth.”

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


15 thoughts on “Book Review: Illuminae

  1. This sounds really cool, I love books that play around with formatting and style. I also like the sound of the themes; what it means to be human always appeals to me. It’s not often I get to see books where they have fully developed side characters either. I’ll have to pick it up! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read the first hundred pages and I need to finish it! I LOVE these kinds of books, and I kind of want to pick up the audiobook, too, because I hear it has a full cast of voice actors and I want to see how they managed to adapt the source material.

    Liked by 1 person

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