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Illuminae Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Kady Grant has typical problems: school, parents, and a boyfriend she just dumped. But life spirals out of control when Kady's planet, Kerenza, is attacked by an unknown enemy. As destruction unfolds around her, Kady manages to escape her planet on one of three ships. Kady is considered lucky, with her mother on one ship and her ex, Ezra, on another. As the convoy flees Kerenza with the enemy close behind, it is clear that the problems have just begun. A deadly virus is spreading through one of the ships; AIDEN, the onboard computer of the lead ship, has gone rogue; and the enemy is in close pursuit in an attempt to destroy the last witnesses of the Kerenza catastrophe. Using a nontraditional writing style, Kaufman and Kristoff craft the narrative using illustrated screen shots of spaceship blueprints, interviews, data, and messages that make up the "Illuminae Files." Despite the minimal presence of conventional paragraphs, there is a surprisingly natural flow as elements are seamlessly woven together to create a satisfying dossier-style reading experience. The characters are immediately real and with harrowing accounts, unexpected twists, and gut-wrenching selflessness, they become even more endearing over the course of the book. While reminiscent of the works of Isaac Asimov and Orson Scott Card, this work is a distinct piece that stands alone. VERDICT A great recommendation for middle and high school science-fiction fans.—Paige Rowse, Syosset High School Library, New York
"Prepare yourselves for Illuminae."
"One look at a hard copy of Illuminae and you know you're not in for an ordinary novel experience. . . . Illuminae is a wholly ambitious work that never sacrifices emotion or story for its unique form."
"A truly interactive experience for the reader. . . . A fantastically fun ride."
--Booklist, starred review
"Stunningly creative. Smart, funny, and romantic. This is the book I've been waiting for."
--Veronica Rossi, bestselling author of Under the Never Sky
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
-- School Library Journal
--Beth Revis, bestselling author of Across the Universe
"Brace yourself. You're about to be immersed in a mindscape that you'll never want to leave."
--Marie Lu, bestselling author of the Legend trilogy
"An edge of your seat thrill ride that left me breathless. Genre: Undefinable. Novel: Unforgettable."
--Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures & author of Unbreakable
--Shelf Awareness, starred review
-- Romantic Times, Top Pick Gold
"Not only is ILLUMINAE a twisting, heart-pounding story moving at the speed of light, but it is a truly beautiful novel that redefines the form. I have never read anything like it. And it certainly filled the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA shaped hole in my heart."
--Victoria Aveyard, bestselling author of Red Queen
"An exuberant mix of space opera, romance, zombies, hackers, and political thrills, told with eccentric aplomb. ILLUMINAE is both the weirdest and most heartfelt thing you'll read this year. "
--Scott Westerfeld, bestselling author of Uglies and Zeroes
"Ambitious, heartbreaking, and out-of-this-world awesome." —Kirkus Reviews starred review
“Kaufman and Kristoff have created a fast-paced, quasi-political sci-fi thriller that is completely unique.” —Booklist starred review
Top customer reviews
Instead of narrative, this book is presented through transcripts of interviews describing events, email conversations, reports, graphic elements…it’s very odd. At first I found it intimidating, and wondered if I would be able to read a book in this manner, but after maybe 30 pages, you’re well into it.
Because of the format, it’s not truly like reading a 600-page book. The copy is very loose, since it mimics the format of the communication type instead of being running body text.
As for the story: Kady and Ezra have just broken up when their planet is attacked. As their ships attempt to escape from their long-term pursuers, Ezra is drafted into becoming a fighter pilot, and Kady becomes a hacker. They're trying to put together what is happening, why the artificial intelligence seems to have gone haywire, and a deadly disease is spreading among the survivors. Can two teens save them all, while getting their romance back on track?
You may be thinking, "This sounds like every sci-fi movie I've ever seen rolled together. Why should I read it in book form?" I promise, the story is really, really exciting the way it's told. Also, there are some twists and turns along the way. I went from "What IS this book?" to "Yep, get me the sequel, NOW!" once I had finished. Sequel will be an auto-buy, and can't come fast enough.
I think Illuminae’s biggest strength is its characters. Kaufman and Kristoff did such an amazing job making you care about Kady and Ezra very early on. By the end of the first interview, you have a very real sense of who they are as characters. The fact that Kaufman and Kristoff were able to fully define them so early on is a testament to what great writers they are. Kady is deeply loyal and will go to any lengths for the people she loves. She has an amazing strength and is able to accomplish so much over the course of the book. She’s also sarcastic and witty and an absolute basass. Ezra is quite charming and his love for Kady is simply amazing.
The format to which Illuminae is told, through classified documents, reports, IMs, pictures, etc., is so unique and I enjoyed it immensely. It was so interesting to experience the story as if it was a file someone gave you. This definitely made for a unique reading experience and I don’t know that I’ll ever find something quite like it again (with the exception of the sequels in this series).
A few spoilery thoughts, but nothing too specific. Kady and Ezra’s relationship was fantastic (and I majorly shipped them), but I wish we would have seen more time with them together. They spend roughly 90% of the book not actually with each other and only communicating through IMs. It would have been nice to see more of their interactions in person. AIDAN was an absolutely fascinating character and I loved how you could tell he cared for Kady by the end of the story even if he didn’t know what that meant.
I am so excited to read the sequel, Gemina, and see where this story leads. Also, I got a lot of Firefly vibes from this book and would definitely recommend the book to fans of the TV show.
It took me a while to get into this story, but once I did, I was really hooked. The beginning felt kind of slow, when Kady and Ezra are dealing with the fall out of their planet being invaded and them being refugees on some space ships. Once Kady started to dive more deeply into what was going on with the commanders and the artificial intelligence AIDEN on the Alexander, things definitely picked up.
I liked how, even when things were going really terribly badly, Kady and Ezra still found time to flirt with each other and argue over things that happened in their relationship. It was a nice reminder that they were only teenagers.
This story is a part of a series, but once I finished Illuminae, I didn't feel compelled to start Gemina right away. I'll probably get around to it eventually, but it's not something that I feel like I need to start immediately. Which is nice, because I usually have no patience and end up devouring a series in a few days!