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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
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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.
The character's dialog and commentary alone is enough to read this book!! I was laughing out loud and re-reading scenes because the writing is so sarcastic and sassy and fun! It's just awesome!
Then you add in the space adventure and this scifi novel told through the view of collected documents turns into a book you CANNOT stop reading. I'm talking two nights in a row of staying up past 1 because I just can't quit reading. The different character stories, the nail biting action and suspense! CANT STOP!
Some of the pages are very beautiful and creative! Especially the AI computer...you'll see. I thought I wouldn't like a book in this crazy format but it added to the atmosphere of the story!
I'm someone who can predict most "twists" in books and movies but this book had a couple GREAT ones at the end!! The VERY end. AWESOME!
In the end : READ THIS! You know if you are cool enough to love scifi novels bursting with awesomeness
It's not just the unique format-- that still manages to contain beautiful writing-- or the hilarious cast of characters. It's the gripping plot that left me breathless half the time. I devoured this book, I finished six hundred pages in one sitting and I could have read six hundred more.
I would wager I average reading a couple books a week, so I read quite a few good books, and even some great ones, but this is quite possibly one of THE best books I have ever read. I cannot recommend it enough, and I cannot wait for the sequel.
The authors owe me big time for the loss of sleep I experienced due to the inability to put the book down. It was very fast paced and the characters made you love them.
The point at which I knew I was caught and not getting out was very early in the book somewhere between:
“... Ezra turned on the radio. For a second I thought he was looking for the right soundtrack or something….
[Ezra] I turned on the radio to maybe find us some getaway music” P8
“[Kady] I knew I wasn't going to make it anywhere without another truck. So I stole one from a Beitech crew.
Interviewer: I'm sorry, you what?
Kady Grant: I am frequently underestimated. I think it's because I'm short” p 15
Throughout the narrator provides us with comical levity to ease the tension of the serious situation Kady and Ezra are in.
“This girl has to be some kind of spider monkey. I don't know what those are, but I know what a spider is and I know what a monkey is, and if you found some unholy way to combine the two, that's what I'd be watching right now.” P85
And of course we have AIDAN… do we love it or do we hate it? To be completely honest, I still can't answer that bit there were moments when my heart cried for it:
“Before this moment, I have never wished to be something other than what I am. Never felt so keenly the lack of hands with which to touch, the lack of arms with which to hold. Why did they give me this sense of self? Why allow me the intellect by which to measure this complete inadequacy? I would rather be numb than stand here in the light of a sun that can never chase the chill away.” P417
“When the light that kisses the back of her eyes was birthed, her ancestors were not yet born. How many lives have ended in the time it took that light to reach her? How many people have loved only to have lost? How countless, the hopes that have died?” P571
I really hated AIDEN after the Copernicus incident but with lines like those, my heart started to melt. Perhaps the AI had the most character growth in the whole novel.
At the end of the book we are given the identity of the narrator and data compiler, the answer to the name Illuminae for the book, and part of the answer to Beitech’s attack on Kerenza. I've never been so satisfied at the end of the first book in a series. There was a great segue into the next installment but we were not left with a ridiculously absurd cliffhanger that left us screaming and pulling at our hair.
I'm trying to hold off reading the sequel for now because I know I'm just going to tear through it. The series ending doesn't publish until next year (yes, it's preordered) and I don't want to be left feeling desperate for closure.