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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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From the Publisher
Read all the books in the THE ILLUMINAE FILES and the new AURORA CYCLE series!
From School Library Journal
"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
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Little do they know, their problems are just beginning. Not only is a virus spreading and causing those contaminated into attempt to harm others, but the corporation who invited their planet is hot on their tail trying to wipe out any remaining survivors. The commanders of the ships are remaining tight lipped about all of the details, so Kady decides to take things into her own hands by hacking into the computer systems. It turns out that the one person who can help her uncover the truth is none other than her ex-boyfriend, Ezra.
Told through a series of case files, IM’s, emails, interviews, and more, Illuminae is a fast paced story about two regular teenagers forced to step up in order to save themselves and the ones they love.
I am a huge fan of epistolary novels, and will basically read anything told in email/text/IM format. I think they are fun and unique, and I just love reading them. That said, I was a little hesitant to read Illuminae, because generally sci-fi is not my thing. After seeing so many positive reviews coming in from people I trust, I decided to give it a try. I bought the book, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for probably 9 months. I finally decided to pick it up, and I was instantly hooked. I read the book in two sittings!
Initially, I did find myself confused until about 100 or so pages in. It took a little bit for me to understand the language and learn who the different characters were and how they related to each other, but once I got that part down, I flew through the book. I stayed up way too late reading it during my first sitting, but I was dying to know what would happen!
I really loved all of the characters. It was refreshing to not see another YA book fall down the “insta-love” rabbit hole. Instead, we see a couple who has been together for a while, but opted to break up. They’re mad at each other, but you can tell there are still feelings there. The feelings develop and change throughout the book, and I liked seeing the relationship change sort of in the reverse of what I normally see. I found Kady to be a wonderfully competent character. I hardly ever read books where a woman is into computers, coding, hacking, and other technical skills, so I loved that it was Kady who played that role and not Ezra.
I also loved that the story was told from both Ezra and Kady’s points of view, based on which one of them was IMing or interviewing at the time. It felt like it made each character more developed and well rounded, and I really enjoyed that.
Despite the fact that I’m generally not a huge fan of sci-fi, I loved this one. I felt like it was done really well, and written in a way that didn’t feel confusing on insanely far fetched. I found myself wanting to know more about the times they lived in, and to learn more about their planet and the way things worked in this new world where space travel is possible, so I actually really liked that aspect of the book, which completely surprised me.
The book was really fast paced, and there was a ton of action! The end of the book was so intense and I just loved how everything played out. Illuminae did leave on a cliffhanger, so if you plan to read it, make sure you have Gemina ready to go!
I highly recommend this one, even if sci-fi isn’t usually your thing, give it a chance and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Anyway, onto the book. I love the characters and the storyline. I won't bother with the synopsis as you can read it here but I was glued to this audiobook as soon as I started. I really enjoyed the whole outer space futuristic world Amie & Jay have created. I haven't read either of their books before but now they are in my "must read all books" folder. I felt for every character in here and there was some crazy plot twist maybe 75% in that had me shocked while listening. I even felt for Aidan the freaking spaceship. Yes... Aidan was a spaceship and I actually cared about what happened to him/it. That's good writing people... just saying. It was channeling along the lines of Baymax in Big Hero Six where I almost cried in a movie theater over a robot. *cringe*
I cannot wait to get finished with Gemina and honestly even though I am able to read and comprehend it, I really want the audiobook because if the audio version for Gemina is anything like the Illuminae one it just brings the book to life.
I'd recommend this book for anyone that loves space, science fiction, some gore, zombies, "guys", teens, not a lot of romance because the two are basically just "texting" the whole time, and anyone that just wants something different from the whole fantasy/sci fi genre that's popular right now.
I do have to say this to the publisher: Those black pages of AIDAN's data where his thoughts and Kady's speech are white and his reply to her is in a dark gray was hard to read at parts where it appeared the printer may have failed. I was not amused. It's cool looking for awhile, but it gets annoying. Stick to white pages with black ink or black with white. No gray.
Top international reviews
There is some commonality with BSG, but really this stands alone as something that feels like it has many influences (BSG, 2001: A Space Odyssey and even Bioshock) but really is a fresh story.
It starts the ground running and the first part of the book quickly brings us up to speed on the main characters and the story background. I love a new universe like this and want to know more.
The authors don't pull their punches - quiet happy to deal with dark topics, violence and a fair amount of death. I understand this is a 'young adult' book but aside from the main characters being young and a bit precocious this felt every bit a book for all ages.
The story did dip a bit in the second quarter... and my interest waned. Lots of chat based interactions where it's really quite annoying having to navigate the slang writing, for example wut = what. It seemed pointless as they would then use overly long words and in other texts showed they were capable of writing properly. But in the chats, they then suddenly regressed and had to talk like "wut u doin cuz im chill". Additionally they use swearing then censor it, so you're constantly slowing down to try and work out what the word is.
But that was soon pushed aside when the story picked up pace again at the half way point - and I blew through the rest in days. It took me along for the ride and had plenty of twists and turns.
The format is very interesting and for the most part worked, but a word of warning that some dialog in the images is almost impossible to read on Kindles. It's easily solved by reading those bits on a phone or tablet... but it does make me think i'll go with the paper version next time.
All in all, heartily recommended.
During my read I found myself wondering which parts were written my Amie and which by Jay.. Did they sit down and say: ‘Edit that, write this… this will cause more emotional heartache!’ Did they??! UGH!
I am never going to recover from this. It was chilling, outright horrifying at times, and sweet, and painful.. The pain. I have never cried so much while reading a book, and I’m a crier so that’s really saying something.
^^ My brain is just.. Okay, taking out the gore, horror, fear and heartache let’s talk about the format.
This book is written unlike any other I’ve ever seen, after seeing pictures of it online my immediate thought was ‘nope' I didn’t think it’d be easy to follow or enjoyable. I was wrong. The format is in part, why this book is so incredible. It made it, more.. It made it feel real, like you were right there amidst it all. If anyone is putting it off because of the formatting, trust me, it’ll blow your mind!
I’m torn between wanting to read the next one and scheduling a therapy session. 😅 My heart feels heavy.
Amie and Jay are definitely a force of nature. This is my first read from either of them, and from what I’ve been told there’s lots more pain incoming… I need to stock up on chocolate. 🤦🏻♀
I can’t get my head together enough.. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, hands down. There’s not much more I can say.
"She is catalyst.
She is chaos.”
I had a lot of fun with this novel and, despite the fact that it's over 600 pages long, I sped through it because of the format it's told in.
In Illuminae we follow teenagers Kady and Ezra who, on the day Kady breaks off their relationship, end up fleeing their planet on two separate fleets with the warship that has destroyed their home in pursuit. What follows is a story that twists and turns as Kady, in particular, tries to find out the hell's going on and why so many lives have been ruined by hacking into government documents.
To be honest that's all I want to say about this novel because I went into it knowing practically nothing about it and I enjoyed it so much more because of that. The less you know, the more it feels like this story is unfolding in front of you and you're simply along for the ride.
Parts of this novel are pretty dark, and I loved those moments. The mixed media format, sometimes a string of dialogue from an online forum and sometimes a report from someone examining CCTV footage, keeps you on tenterhooks because you're experiencing the story as the characters are experiencing it and finding things out as they're discovering them.
I have to say that, without the way it's written, I'm not sure how original this idea is. To be honest that doesn't bother me; I haven't read enough sci-fi to feel bogged down by tropes and there's no such thing as a completely original story anymore anyway. I want to mention it, though, because I think there may be some sci-fi aficionados who might go into this book expecting a completely original concept when it's actually the way this story is written, and not necessarily the contents of the story itself, that makes Illuminae so original.
The characters are great; when Kady and Ezra are back on speaking terms their banter is really fun, and you get a sense of the history between them and how, now that their entire lives have changed so drastically, the problems they thought they had don't seem all that big.
There was also one plot twist that took me completely by surprise and I loved it. When I say this is a twisty, turny book I mean it in every sense of the word, and I was well on the way to giving this book 5 stars. Then there was another twist, nearer the end, and unfortunately it lessened the impact of that earlier twist for me. I'd've loved this novel even more if Kaufman and Kristoff had been a little braver. If you've read Illuminae then I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about.
That aside I had a lot of fun reading this novel and both Kaufman and Kristoff are authors I'd like to read more from in future. I'm not sure if I'll continue with this series, I've seen most people say the first book is the best and the second and third are just rehashed versions of the first, but I might be tempted to read Gemina if I find a cheap copy somewhere because one of the characters in it is a member of a crime family, and I love me a crime family...
I was immediately struck by the format: the story unfolds through a dossier of hacked documents and includes emails, schematics, military reports, diary entries, interviews and transcripts of security camera footage to name but a few. I’ve not found a book told this way before, and it was fresh and beautifully orchestrated. Paperclipped ‘briefing notes’ from the Illumine Group who gathered the dossier add sardonic comments that appealed to my sarcastic streak, while the IMs and emails frequently have wonderful comedic touches that play off against the impeccably built dramatic tension superbly.
I am struck by a realisation: a computer will perform a takeoff or landing with all the grace of a person. It is only for combat – only for the artistry of ruin – that these vessels have pilot seats at all anymore. There is something in humanity more suited to the mechanics of murder than any machine yet devised.
The characters have wonderful depth. Kady, our heroine, is tough and resourceful, but we see vulnerable moments. Even tertiary characters are strongly written, relatable and lovable (spoiler: you may wish they weren’t lovable), with some delightful casual representation thrown in, such as character x thinking about his husband and daughter. Winifred grapples with her duty to follow military orders versus doing what she believes is right. Byron is a chubby, geeky hacker with hidden reserves of moral strength. AIDAN (the AI of the fleet) serves as a fascinating contrast as he has a completely different tone and viewpoint to all the human characters. These authors are evil geniuses at getting you heavily invested in characters and then doing horrible things to them!
“The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”
The story builds to edge-of-your-seat tension and at one point I even clapped my hand across my mouth in horror! This series is my favourite of all time, which is quite a statement. Brace yourself, and dive in.
Now if the characters or plot are not your cup of tea, then the format and the fact that this is written through emails, video transcriptions, instant messages, a very, very questionable AI, and just pure awesome, should definitely make up for your dislike of any other part of this book. But to be frank, there is just an abundance of fabulous spewing out of these pages. The plot, characters, format, the emotional turmoil...just...read it, ok? It is absolutely brilliant. And I’ll throw in a little warning since I don’t want others suffering as I did, make sure you have book 2 in your possession as soon as you’re finished with this one. ‘Cause really, you will be going through some stuff, and I can in all seriousness say that book 2 is the only thing that’ll help you through this tough time.
As for the conclusion to this epic adventure in space(!!!) OBSIDIO releases in March...so you won’t have that long a period of torture to finally have the last book in your grubby little hands and just devour it in one sitting. Which is the ideal way of consuming these masterfully crafted artifacts (yes, they are that precious).
Go forth and explore the amazing weirdness that will smack you upside the noggin and make your black heart...errr....your unicorn sprinkled heart...bleed from all the agony!! And also burst with all the Feelings!!
10/10 would suffer again.
'Set in 2575, a mining colony is attacked. The illuminae group is hired to investigate what happens. These are their findings. '
Anyone who reads my reviews knows I love originality and appreciate when authors take risks...
It's like AK and JK wrote this purely to test me on that! This book is entirely made up of message logs, interview transcripts and surveillance footage summaries I. E the evidence the company has pulled together.
This means there's very little description/setting the scene and a lot of action! At first I thought it could be difficult to follow or connect with the characters but I was wrong (it occasionally happens 😉) and I was hooked. The dialogue between the two main characters is funny and Ezra is totally believable as a teenage boy.
The plot is high action and fast paced, so much happens in this book that I actually think I need a lie down after reading it! 🤯😴
The book is very visual and the only downside I had was one format where the words are in a wavy line is slightly difficult to read... But I'm nit picking!
This is a scifi book but the scifi element is subtle so I think even nonfans of the genre can enjoy it.
It is one of the most fresh, uniquely structured stories I’ve ever read.
The plot just flew past, the writing was sharp and delivered to you in such a way that you were holding your breath on the edge of your seat.
I don’t normally pick up a Sci-Fi book as a first choice so I’ve had this book for almost a year and never got round to choosing it I wish I’d read it sooner.
I was worried due to the text conversations and the way the book actually is put down on paper I wouldn’t be able to connect with the characters as well but that wasn’t the case at all, you still had a sense of what Kady and Ezra as well as even Aiden were feeling.
And the plot twist I genuinely didn’t see coming I felt like the ground was taken from under me, sheer brilliance!!! I’m late to the party but I’m going to pick up the next book as soon as possible.
Combining elements of Hal from 2001, any plague horror and touching romance, Illuminae is a thrilling, pageturning read with a doozy of a twist.
Where it excels, however, is in the manor of storytelling, with its reporting documentation and electronic communication style of delivery. This would seem to break the golden rule of 'show don't tell' yet the book releases information brilliantly and manages to imbue every character with colour and pathos. A fabulous teaching tool for those who write sci fi and a heartfelt 5 stars from me.
I can honestly say that I have never read a book like this before. Ever. The whole book is completely told through hacked files, messages, and commentated surveillance footage. It was amazing – a completely new and unique experience. The whole premise was so imaginative and I can only describe it as spectacular. And can I just say how much I loved the surveillance dude?
Speaking of characters, I don’t think there was a single one that I didn’t love. Kady was awesome – so strong, witty and funny (and she had PINK HAIR!). And Ezra was equally as fun, and strong — I can’t decide who I love more. They were both so amazing. I especially loved them together, though — their banter and sarcasm was great and THEY WERE SO CUTE. I think I now have two new favourite characters to add to my list. 🙂 I even loved AIDAN, the crazy computer, even though, to be honest, it scared the crap out of me.
Illuminae was packed full of action, too. It was gripping, intense and engaging and I just couldn’t stop reading – from when we first saw Kady and Ezra running and fighting for their lives when their planet is attacked, to the very end, I was completely hooked. Reality became an annoying buzz in the background as I became utterly absorbed within this wonderful, wonderful book.
And it was an emotional rollercoaster of the best kind — this book has all the feels. You are shocked, amazed, amused and – I’ll admit it – terrified at every other page. And that’s not even the half of it. I loved every second of this sensational book.
The book is not in a traditional novel format, it is made up of; character interviews, footage, images, emails and reports. It contains alot of descriptive imagery of spacecrafts to help set a scene in your mind.
Kady Grant is the heroine of the story and she is independent, confident and is very badass with her pink hair and her blasé attitude. The story begins with her being interviewed about an invasive attack on her planet Kerenza. You are then introduced to her ex-boyfriend Ezra Mason where you also learn of his perspective of the attack.
The book is a action romance set in out of space, with lots of plot twists that I personally did not see coming.
I love the humourous rapport between the characters, and both are characters you warm to.
I am looking forward to where the plot goes in the rest of the series, but I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to try something different, or love sci-fi romance novels.
This book is such an interesting read, it is told in the form of a file consisting of emails, military files, interviews etc. this makes it a really interesting read and makes it so easy to fly through it!
We follow our two main characters after their world has been bombed and they have been evacuated to two different ships...all of this happens the day they've broken up and don't want to see each other again. We follow them as they face rogue AIs and infectious plagues, they realise how much they actually need each other, and how far apart they are.
Although the book started off action packed I still found it really difficult to get into the story as it was quite confusing with a lot of names of ships and characters so I did find it pretty rough during the first 10 or so pages. After that however the story really picks up. Every few pages there would be a different format of the story, whether it be in terms of instant messaging, emails or an interview. This made it a refreshing change and therefore made it really easy to get through.
This book was so tense the whole way through, one big event would come then another would be on the horizon. There was always something big just about to happen and that made it a really intense read the whole way through.
I'm not normally a fan of sci-fi books as space travel isn't something that really interests me however this book had me hooked! Like I said it is a little slow to start with however it really picks up so I definitely recommend you stick with it.
Then we get on to the plot twist! There are two major plot twists in this book that I definitely did not see coming! I won't discuss them as I don't want to spoil the book however just be prepared for a massive plot twist!
Overall I would definitely recommend this book, it was an intense read the whole way through and you will fly through it. It may look like a lok book at 600 pages but as the format changes so frequently throughout the book you can easily get through half the book in one sitting! I can't wait read the next one!
However, my main issue with this book is the length (600 pages). It didn't need to be this long and became tedious to read at points when the pace slowed. Also the two main teenage characters, Ezra and Kady, were very one-dimensional so I was not invested in either of them. This meant the overall narrative lacked the emotional impact I was hoping for unfortunately.
I should probably start by saying that I've only ever read one other Sci-Fi book before, Amid Stars and Darkness, which I absolutely loved, but besides parts of it taking place in space, it was completely alien to this book.
My reactions to this book were a progressing variation of WTF, something like this: What? What the? What the hell? WTF? OMG WTF JUST HAPPENED? WTF AM I READING? WHY BOOK GODS WHY?
Illuminae threw me off from the first page due to its format, and the unusual way in which it's presented. As a side note, some parts were unreadable on my Kindle due to the tiny font size but would probably have been much better in book form.
However, there were 4 parts of this book that I found brilliant: Kady, Ezra, Aidan and the person transcribing the video scenes.
The characters are lively, unique, funny, feisty and believable. I ached for them, almost cried for them and laughed way too often.
The story itself is phenomenal. I loved it. The storyline, the plot twists, the unexpected reveals - it was all fantastic, all of the elements in this book made it so good! Incidentally, at no point did this actually seem like a YA read, I was terrified and had trouble sleeping the entire time I was reading!!
Literally, the only reason that I'm not giving this book 5 stars is that I'm just not sure it's entirely my thing. I completely appreciate the storytelling, the characters and the unique way it was delivered but I'm not entirely sure that this type of sci-fi is my thing...saying that, I'm still a little curious to find out what happens next, so who knows.
Maybe Illuminae is my gateway drug to become a massive sci-fi fan...we shall see!
As an aside, I'm now even more inclined though to read Nevernight because this type of dark humour and insane plot twists in a fantasy novel...bring it on!
At first I didn't know what to expect from this book - I'd never seen anything like this format before - but the sample had me laughing out loud, and I bought it straight away. I was instantly sold on the witty and sarcastic characters, and my attachment to them only grew throughout their respective struggles aboard the Hypatia and the Alexander. Kady and Ezra deal with their situation in very different ways, but throughout all their difficulties I was rooting for their relationship.
While their fleet fights against the enemy dreadnought chasing them down, their greatest enemy could be within, with a deadly virus rapidly mutating in their midst, and their damaged Artificial Intelligence taking increasingly drastic measures to "protect" the fleet. AIDAN makes for a very interesting character, and it definitely falls into the "morally grey" category - the choices it makes really have you questioning whether it is right or wrong.
On the subject of characters, I have to give mention to Analyst ID 7213-0089, who may well now be one of my favourite characters of all time. His narration made me laugh out loud, and his colourful writing style made him one of the stand out features of this book for me. I'd never have guessed I could be so attached to a completely anonymous character, but then again, everything about this book surprised me.
I think the writers definitely hit their mark with this one: the humour made me laugh, the plot twists made me gasp, and the emotional scenes had me a crying wreck. If you're looking for a great sci-fi read with some stand-out characters, and a book that knows how to make you laugh, cry, and question everything, then look no further than Illuminae. It's scored a high place on my list of all-time favourites, and I have no doubts that I will be recommending this book for years to come.
I had heard a lot of buzz around this book but unfortunately I just did not feel the magic. I’m not saying I did not enjoy some parts but I was easily distracted by other books. I kept putting this book down in order to pick up another one. Which is one of the reasons it took me so long to finish it. I found it to be a book that was difficult to read if you were not in the right mind frame to read it. Mostly because of the unfamiliar format.
However, it did pick up speed in the last quarter of the book and at one point there was a little bit of a shock factor. I definitely did not see the last part coming (trust me you will know it when you read it). But even this could not make up for the 3/4 of the book with very little grip factor. Even the characters didn’t pull a lot of emotion from me. I found it confusing to keep up with who was who, and since the main couple only communicated through technology it was difficult to get a feel for what their emotions were. It was all rather robotic. Overall I gave this book 3/5 stars. The plot twists are what saved it from being less. They were numerous occasions near the end when I was completely blind sided and was surprised at a certain change in events. However, it took a lot to get there. Others have expressed their love for this book. But unfortunately it just wasn’t for me.