ARC Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Written by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Pages: 608, Hardback
Series: The Illuminae Files, #1
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Thanks to RandomHouse for the ARC!


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.

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.


Alright, Illuminae. Who isn’t talking about this book? Who hasn’t heard about this book already? It seems like everyone has been super crazy excited about this one. For those of you who don’t know about the book, yes it’s a space age war with a pandemic, and a good old evil Artificial Intelligence(AI) thrown in for balance. But the thing that sets Illuminae apart from every other book you’re going to read this year is it isn’t set up in the typical book format. The story is told through documents, transcripts, sometimes even drawings or propaganda that’s been found. It’s all compiled by the Illuminae group for reading.

There are few things I love more than high fantasy but sci-fi is one of those things. But it has to be well done sci-fi. Or else I wind up comparing it to my one true love: Star Trek. I’m such a Trekkie it’s a life-long problem honestly, and I’m okay with that, it’s in my blood. My mother watched Next Generation as it aired live, I watched from my high chair ‘cause I was three. (Fun side story: My parents had a groomsman in their wedding that had a hanger set up as the full deck of the Enterprise, and he and friends dressed up and acted out episodes. Forever will I be angry that I never got to go.)

But back on track now, Illuminae, and my love of it. I feel like I could make my entire review ALDFJLEIORHALSDKJ and still not fully encapsulate how much I LOVED THIS BOOK. But I swear I’ll get more in depth of this book once I get through this next section…somehow.


Nothing. Nothing in this book didn’t work.

Here’s the problem, I had notes like “AHA I FOUND THINGS!” in my phone. In fact there was a moment in the book I had to close it because I was legit terrified, and it was late at night. I was honestly worried I was going to have nightmares after that part. The next night I started a fluffy contemporary because I just KNEW I couldn’t read Illuminae at night again. So there was my Didn’t Work, right?

Wrong. Because the next day I was able to sit down and really read. That thing that terrified me? Yeah sure still scared me, but then as the book continued on that character that terrified me suddenly started making me smile. Started making me fall in love. It was a problem. Now it’s something that worked amazingly for the book.

Illuminae literally had no moments that turned me off, there was nothing I disliked about the plot, about the characters, about the development… Nothing. Anything that started as “Oh don’t do that…” it got fixed. This book was just flawless. Yes there was a large cast of characters, but it didn’t take long to get their names and understand their characters and this is turning into what did work, so I think I’m just gonna move on.


Every. Single. Thing.

I’m serious. The character development was amazing, the plot moved at a perfect pace, the story just flowed. Yes you’re reading documents of what happened, you’re never in the character’s heads but you get to know each and every one of them. You get to watch these characters grow and you cheer them on every step of the way. I literally yelled “FIGHT DAMMIT!” at the book at one point and I didn’t even care that there were random workers in my house fixing the A/C. Every character grew in unbelievable ways, they learned more about themselves and they grew. I think the best part of this book was actually once I finished I went back to the beginning and I found myself honestly shocked it was the same characters speaking. It didn’t sound like them, but at the same time I never noticed the characters growing and changing that much. But the characters that started this book are nearly unrecognizable to the ones that ended it. And that, that my friends, is the best thing of any book.

The strangest thing about this book is the formatting, the reading of the files. But, the one thing about that, that blew me away, was that these characters felt more real because of it. Because I wasn’t having to read mannerisms, or trying to read prose around the characters words it was unfiltered, and it felt so real. Any of those characters could’ve walked off the pages and I would’ve believed it. As I mentioned before a character that terrified me got under my skin until I reached the end where I was so, so glad everything was okay. That is how you write character development. That is how you write a book. Illuminae is how it’s done people.

I remember thinking as I was getting close to the end “How is this going to be a trilogy? The story is wrapping up! HOW ARE THEY GOING TO DO THIS???” and then I reached the end and I’m just… I paced around the house for hours, I voluntarily cleaned, I did the dishes, I vacuumed, I couldn’t sit down because the ending was just that FANTASTIC. The whole book was really but the end set up so much, and took what was a home run already and just knocked it out of the park.


GOD YES YES YES. JUST YES. Pre-order it. Be at B&N the moment it opens. GET THIS BOOK YOU GUYS. I read the ARC and I still plan on being at B&N the moment they open to get me a finished copy. I’m not going to say right now that this is my favorite book of 2015. But this book will be a top 5 contender.

Honestly if nothing else sells you let me say this: I liked it better than A Court of Thorns and Roses. If THAT doesn’t tell you everything you need to know then I don’t know how else to sell you on it my friends.


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