Series: The Illuminae Files, #1
Published by Random House on 10/20/15
Genres: Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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.
An imaginative and addicting story. CRAZY CRAZY good!
This book was so not my style. It takes place in the future. It’s pretty heavy on the science fiction, and there’s a bit of horror to it, that I’m pretty much never drawn to. But, it also had great drama, a consuming love, smart writing, and an imaginative and unforgettable story. So I guess, really, it was my style.
Illuminae snuck up on me. It wasn’t really on my radar until a friend of mine recommended it, and knowing how much I love pretty books, she told me to buy it because it’s gorgeous and I’d love to hold it while I experienced one hell of a ride. She wasn’t wrong. I bought it because it was pretty (I’m one of those people), and I started reading it without knowing too much about it. I started this 608 page book, and at first it was slow going because I had to acclimate to the new world, and also I was marveling at the formatting and going over every little graphic instead of just reading it, but once I got settled, I was off like a rocket (yes, pun :)).
** A bit about the format: this story was told though a file of emails, IMs, interviews, and more crazy cool stuff (see video below). **
Illuminae didn’t waste any time getting to the gut punching stuff. I mean that; sh*t was going down on pg. 5. There was some world building, but it was brilliantly entwined in the action, so the pace never felt stagnant. In fact, for the majority of the book, the pace was nothing less than rapid, with so many twits and stomach dips; so many heart thumping moments. Too many. I was so stressed while I was reading this book, my adrenaline was flowing like mad, and I was constantly expecting to stroke out. Why do authors do this to me?
Have I told you anything about the plot yet? Well, let me give you some background, and please stick with me until the end.
Illuminae opens up with recent exes (really recent too, they had a big row the day before) Kady and Ezra on the run, trying to escape the destruction that recently befell their country. It’s a mess of terror and uncertainty, and as with the best action movies, my eyes were glued to the page. A group called BeiTech industries (a massive organization that wants to control space’s resources) attacked their country, Kerenza. (Don’t worry if you’re not into corporate warfare, that part of the story is mostly background.) Any who, Kerenza refugees were rescued by nearby ships that received their distress signals, and after a bloody battle, a wounded Ezra is placed on the Alexander, a military vessel that supports it’s companion ships, the Hypatia, which Kady is placed on, and the Copernicus. The three ships were banged up and on a mission to outrun the Lincoln, BeiTech’s deathship that’s on its mission to destroy all evidence of BeiTech’s highly illegal and insane attack on Kerenza, which basically consists of one task: kill all witnesses.
Now, don’t runaway just yet. I imagine some of you reading this, who are mostly here for the romance, are thinking, “Whhhaaatt? Battles and ships, and cooperations and weird sounding techy names? And did she mention horror? I’m not here for this.”
You are here for this! You see, Illuminae was about the aftermath of all that. Kady was left with nothing and no one after the destruction, and the only thing that kept her tethered in the vast blackness of the universe was Ezra, who she ended things with on such bad terms, but did any of that really matter when the world started to fall apart?
This was a literal star-crossed lovers story. As the brilliantly plotted story unfolded in it’s oh-so unique form, Kady began to realize that the powers that be on the Alexander weren’t giving citizen the whole story, so she used her genius hacker skills to infiltrate the system. As she dug deeper and revealed more truths, the situation grew starker, the stakes higher and every choice more dangerous – not only to herself, but also to the boy she loves. This book was intense, and thoroughly riveting. Also, it had a surprising amount of humor in it, an there were as many times that I laughed aloud as times I gasped from shock. Really, all the elements aforementioned just blended perfectly to create a book that I ended up having dreams about. The science fiction was a thrilling fantasy, the ‘horror’ was more the kind that made my stomach clench and heart hurt from anxiety more than from any gore, and the romance was that kind of epic romance that’s achieved when two people face the most harrowing situations while trying to hold on tightly to their love – it made me swoon, and yes, it made me cry too.
Illuminae was an unforgettable novel that was not only artistic and entertaining, but moving as well. It had a wonderful message about truth and sacrifice and its epic circumstances forced me to look at what’s important in life. It was about the cost of truth and love and what we’re willing to do to not only survive, but to live. I loved this book, and I can’t recommend it enough. Read it. And if it’s not your usual read, then read it anyway, because I think it’ll surprise you.
Here’s a peek at what the physical book looks like. If you do plan on reading it, then definitely get the hard copy.