So I Read a Sci-Fi Book… Thoughts on Illuminae!

Posted February 8, 2018 by Mallory in Bookish Things, Reviews / 5 Comments

So I Read a Sci-Fi Book… Thoughts on Illuminae!Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 602
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal Copy

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.

BRIEFING NOTE: 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.

I read “Illuminae” as part of my self-imposed 2018 reading challenge.  At the beginning of the year, I identified 12 types of books I wanted to read more of, and resolved to check-one of the list each month.  

January was all about trying something Sci-Fi!  Despite an undying love for all book’s Star Wars related when I was younger, I haven’t laid hands on a sci-fi book in over one two decades.  I realize I can’t pass judgment on an entire genre from one book… let’s just call this dipping my toes in the water.


Illuminae is the first book in Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae Files trilogy.  Yes, I realize I must have been living under a rock to not have heard of this book until now (apparently Brad Pitt is turning it into a move?).  However, I’d seen amazing reviews for Gemina – the second book in the series – that made me think Illuminae could be a good fit for my Sci-Fi book goals.

Illuminae centers on Kady and Ezra, two teenagers who flee their illegal mining settlement after a rival mining company attacks. Forced to escape into space aboard a hodge-podge space fleet, the two face a series of disasters.  First, the rival mining company is chasing them through space.  Then, a plague breaks out aboard one of the ships – with some truly terrifying side effects.  Of course, this causes the ship’s artificial intelligence system to take matters into its own hands…. Oh, and did I mention that no one in charge is willing to fess-up to what is going on?  Sounds like a great challenge for the master hacker, Kady!

What I liked…

I completely judged this book by its cover (pages?) and fell in love right away.  Illuminae caught my fancy because it looked like MORE than just words on a page.  The story is told through a series of interviews, classified documents, and emails.  I’ve read in with similar writing styles; however, Illuminae’s authors paid meticulous attention was to formatting and page detail. There were lots of graphics and creative page layouts.  I’m not sure what the ebook edition looks like, but the paperback was fierce!  

I was originally worried the case-file writing style would prevent me from getting “into” the book.  I expected a disjointed writing style and was concerned there wasn’t going to be an all-knowing author to us what-was-what.  However, the authors clearly took time to make sure the story and characters are clearly defined. I even found myself shedding the occasional tear/crying uncontrollably.  Some of the emotion was from heartbreaking situations, and others were because there was beautifully stunning prose.

Kady was by far my favorite character.   Not because she reacted in fear, but because she reacted in fury. She was the one rushing into the mess where I know I would have conveniently stuck my head In the sand.

Final thoughts…

I have no idea what common tropes are in a Sci-Fi novel.  However, I did find the out-of-control AI system to be a little cheesy.  Anyone else remember Disney’s made-for-TV movie,  Smart House, from the late 90’s?  That aside, I’d definitely pick-up more Sci-Fi in the future and can’t wait to get my hands on Gemina!  

Recommendations needed!  I loved Illuminae’s layout and artistry. I want to jump into Gemina and am wondering if I should stick with the physical book or if the ebook has the same visual effects.  Let me know in the comments below!

5 responses to “So I Read a Sci-Fi Book… Thoughts on Illuminae!

    • Mallory

      I’m headed to Barnes and Noble tomorrow to pick-up Gemina… there goes my weekend plans 🙂

    • Mallory

      I plan on devouring the second one this weekend so I can jump in on the hype when the third one comes out… I feel like I’m always late to the party on new releases 😀

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