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
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 “how 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
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.
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.
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: 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, Published by Knopf Books For Young Readers, October 20th 2015.
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.