Review: Illuminae, Amie Kaufman & Kay Kristoff

My story with Illuminae kind of started like everyone else’s on the blogosphere: because of the hype. This is one of these crazy books that I feel like everyone but me has read, and if I’m being very honest here, I didn’t until just now because I was scared. If you are a reader of my blog posts (thank you!), you probably remember me talking about how I ended up reading this book anyway. So, thank you, sister, for pushing me to get this mind-blowing book.

NEW FORMAT, A BIT OF CONFUSION

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A book with so much hype surrounding it can either be very scary, or very tempting, and both of these feelings gripped me as I first started this book. Because it’s nothing like what I’m used to read. I’m not a massive sci-fi reader, I don’t read a lot of books about spaceships and this star wars vibe, mainly because I am a bit scared of the whole big universe and (green aliens) and stuff. Because I was VERY nervous about the formatting of this book, even more when I finally got it in my hands. Transcripts, pictures, vessels schematics of sorts, chats, a bunch of letters and numbers, black pages, white pages…well it just all seemed very confusing to me. To sum it up in a couple words, I just wondered β€œhow the hell are you supposed to read this book?!” Since this formatting is so unusual, it did take me some time to get into the story, to grasp the rhythm, the setting, the characters and everything that’s happening thanks to the little information we have. Once I managed to do that, which took me a little bit of time, well… I just couldn’t stop reading.

CHARACTERS (AND A COMPUTER??) TO ROOT FOR

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Despite all odds, I managed to FEEL everything while reading this book, which is, when you think about it, completely insane and impossible. We don’t know these characters more than from what we read, obviously, but we don’t even know their feelings: not once are we inside the characters’ minds. And I NEED my characters, I love them, hence why I love contemporaries so much: they’re character-driven and we get to follow their actions and course of thoughts, see them evolve and grow up as we read the story. There, without even being able to get into their minds, I managed to grow attached to them, to feel for them and to want the best for them. I don’t know what kind of trick they pulled here, but it was fantastic. Kady was a fierce, determined, independent character, I absolutely loved her. She’s this strong hacker, yet she feels like someone with feelings and so much more deep inside than she shows it. Ezra was my favorite of the lot, (spoilers) and to be honest I cried here for a second when we didn’t know what had happened to him.(end of spoilers), he grew on me so, so fast. Also, obviously I shipped them together, even if their conversations were kind of on the marshmallow side…Well, I’m a marshmallow, so no complains here for me.

Obviously I have to talk about AIDEN here, as well. And I have just one question: how do you manage to fall in love with artificial intelligence? Even if he’s not human, and no ordinary character for sure, even if his way of thinking and talking is completely rational and unable of making a joke, getting irony or anything, well… I felt something here. Which was plain weird. But no complains here for me either.

DARK, GRIPPING, UNSTOPPABLE.

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Despite all odds, Illuminae was a gripping read, and where I was confused at first, I ended up being obsessed, looking for the next formatting I loved, the next time I’ll hear about the characters I want, the next time there’ll be footage description or chat or just, anything. The world-building here is not made of many descriptions: images are here to help you think about the surroundings, and some footage description helps you set the action in your mind, but…there is a lot that’s left to the imagination, and this surprisingly did wonders for my brain. I thought I wouldn’t be able to picture it, and if, at times I was a bit confused, I still fell like I was inside of the story, I felt the tension, I felt the darkness surrounding the characters, I felt time and air leaving them. I did not get bored while reading this for sure: there was no time to. It was unpredictable, and I loved that about it, even if it turned my knuckles white while I was holding onto the book.

OVERALL

To keep up with my trail of thoughts, well…despite all odds, I ended up loving Illuminae. It was confusing at first, which is why, to be honest, I took a star off my rating because of that, but don’t let that mean too much to you. That book is dark, it made me laugh and cry, it made me feel SO stressed while reading it, a bit confused, sure, but I couldn’t stop reading. And if that’s not the sign of a great book, then I don’t know what is. Also, I can’t WAIT to get Gemina.

Final rating:Β  4 drops!

Did you read Illuminae? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it?

How’s Gemina, if you read it? Share your thoughts in comments!


Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, Illuminae, Β Published by Knopf Books For Young Readers, October 20th 2015.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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 Ezraβ€”who are barely even talking to each otherβ€”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 documentsβ€”including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and moreβ€”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.

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

70 thoughts on “Review: Illuminae, Amie Kaufman & Kay Kristoff

  1. I tried reading it, but I couldn’t keep up with the formatting after a while. Even by giving up at page 100, though, I totally got that Kady and Ezra were characters lots of readers will love. And my oldest son (13) loves this series. He finished Gemina recently, and already is champing at the bit for another instalment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I AM SCARED OF THIS BOOK!!!! I’m the last one I guess, hahaha! Your review tells me I still have a chance to like it despite the hype and my tendency to go against the general opinion. Okay, I’ll muster the courage to get to it in 2017! Fab review from a fab Sweechie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha oh no don’t worry, I’m sure you’re not! πŸ™‚ Thank you so, SO much! I hope you’ll enjoy it when you get to read it. Hype CAN be very scary ahah, and this is a very unusual book, but I hope you’ll be surprised by it as much as I was πŸ™‚ thank you!! ❀

      Like

  3. I was so scared that I would be confused by the formatting of Illuminae, but once I’d read a couple of pages I actually found it okay – my main worry was that I’d miss out on some of the plot details and not understand what was going on, but this just didn’t happen. I absolutely loved AIDAN! He’s such a brilliant character and I particularly liked how his narrative was displayed.

    Can’t wait to hear what you think about Gemina!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. See I think that might be a big reason why I haven’t picked this one up, I’m scared I won’t like it. I love the idea of how it’s formatted but the one time I even glanced at it in the store it seemed so confusing. But every single review I’ve read has been a rave rather than negative. I definitely need to give it a chance soon so I can see if I’ll end up liking it. Great review, Marie! 😊

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  5. Yay, I am so glad you enjoyed this book Marie. I remember seeing the hype surrounding this when it first came out and it took me a good few months to get around to it myself because I just wasn’t sure about it. I love sci-fi but for some reason this book intimidated me a little at the beginning. I loved the formatting through, from the first page, just because it was such a unique way to tell the story.
    AIDAN was my absolute favourite character in this book, honestly every scene he was in was amazing, and I loved Kady and Ezra together as well. I definitely shipped them from the beginning.
    Gemina is amazing, it focuses on a different couple but everything I loved about Illuminae was there in Gemina so I’m sure you’ll love it as well Marie.
    Great review! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much! OH I agree about AIDAN, I was SO confused about him at first, but then I ended up loving every single scene with him ❀
      Oh well I'm glad to hear you loved Gemina! I was a bit disappointed to hear it wasn't about Ezra and Kady anymore, but…I trust your opinion so I think I'll love it just as well πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He was a very dark character in this book but at the same time you could kind of understand his motivations as well and why he did what he did.
        I was a little disappointed as well when it wasn’t continuing Kady and Ezra’s story but you’ll love these new characters just as much! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am SO HAPPY to see that you enjoyed this book my forever crazy! It was a hard one for me to get into at first but then I ended up loving it SO HARD and I’m so happy to see that you do too! I agree with this review SO MUCH because I too am SO SURPRISED at just how much character development and other aspects of the book just WORKED in the setting? I’m still in complete awe and shock and reading Gemina now, its still just as amazing! Lovely review as always my forever crazy! ❀ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have never been happier to see that you loved a book πŸ˜€ I definitely get how the formatting could be off putting for some people, but I loved it so much. I think it helps that my attention span is all over the place so I was able to follow it pretty easily haha. I loved Ezra and Kady soo much. AIDAN was brilliant too πŸ˜€ So happy you enjoyed this Marie, great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve had this on my TBR for a very long time now, and as time passed, the book grew MEGAAA popular. I couldn’t go a day without seeing someone read this. To this day, I still haven’t finished it, but I’ve decided to read it now and get on the bandwagon. You did an excellent review that should pretty much sum it up for anyone who’s never been a HUGEEE sci-fi fan and someone who isn’t used to this kind of abnormal story-telling. Can’t wait to finish this book and see if I’m a fan or not of this series. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So glad to see you enjoyed this Marie! πŸ˜€ I was wary of the formatting too but the first scene on the book was the interview between Kady, Ezra, and the interviewer and it was hilarious I was instantly hooked! I’m marveled to see how this kind of formatting actually works well ❀ I loved Kady and Ezra and I shipped them SO HARD too, their IM conversations are my favorite parts of the book, so dorky hahaha and yes it was dark and brutal, especially that phobos virus </3 I have read Gemina but while enjoyed it, I still prefer Illuminae hehe the plot is more complicated but I'm still kind of hung up on Kady and Ezra πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much! I was surprised but in a great way at how the formatting made this book even more unique, and still managed to pull me into the story. Hahaha yes their IM conversations were SO cheesy but I loved them so much haha I couldn’t help it.
      Ohh well that’s what I’m a bit afraid of with Gemina, I’m scared not to fall in love as much as I did with Illuminae, since it’s not the same characters :/ Thank you so much! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I read this at the beginning of the year and to be honest I didn’t love it. I felt like the files were a really good idea, but also meant (for me at least) that the characters felts a bit detached, and less full. I don’t know… but I’m glad you liked it, and wasn’t it just so unique?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely understand, I had the same fear and feelings at the beginning of the book. I love to REALLY get to know the characters on a deeper level, I guess, but here I still felt like rooting for them, thankfully. I understand though that you couldn’t fully get into their minds and that it was a bit of a turn off. Thank you so much Shar! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I am glad you enjoyed Illuminae! I absolutely freaking LOVED this book and AIDAN is one of the very best creepiest villain I have ever read so it was a bonus! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha oh I get the feeling SO much. I was so scared as well, but if you don’t love it, no one’s going to throw tomatoes at you. I know I won’t πŸ™‚ and if you don’t feel like reading it, well nothing wrong with it either. I haven’t read some really hyped series such as TOG, and…well no one screamed at me yet haha πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  12. You already know that AIDAN is my favourite … apparently I have a really soft spot for twisted AIs. (I just watch too much Westworld, Humans and what not) This was a great review! It took me a bit to get into it as well, but I ended up giving it 4 stars too πŸ˜€ I hope we get to read Gemina together.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So glad you enjoyed this book! Now I’m one of the only people who hasn’t read it yet… πŸ˜‰ I’m definitely also a bit worried about the hype, but most people seem to really enjoy it so I definitely have to give it a try. I’m glad you mentioned that you were scared of not getting attached to the characters because of the format but that you still did feel all their emotions, because I was worried about that too. Definitely bumping this one up on my TBR list – thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I finished Illuminae a few days ago and I totally agree with you. I was confused as well in the beginning, but once I was pulled into the story, it didn’t let me go until I finished it. I read the last 200 pages in one sitting. I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

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