Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

(The Illuminae Files #1)
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Hardcover, 602 pages, Knopf Books
Genres: YA, Sci-fi

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.

My Review

Oh gosh. I don’t know where to start with this review. I feel like everyone and their brother loved this book, and I just thought it was okay… I mean, is there anyone else out there who didn’t love this book? Please identify yourself. I don’t want to be alone.

Okay, so I’ll stop being weird now. I just was a tad disappointed in this book. The reason I say a tad and not a lot is because I knew going in that I probably wouldn’t love it. I just don’t like epistolary-style writing in science fiction. Actually, the only other time I’ve read that style (the mix of emails, letters, etc. as the narrative of a story versus the typical chapter by chapter) is in Meg Cabot’s Boy series. I really enjoyed it in Cabot’s books, but that was a contemporary romance, not a sci-fi with intricate plot points.

What I didn’t expect, though, was for the plot to be a less captivating version of Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. Now, I haven’t read the book series, but I’ve watched the TV show, The Expanse, and it is fantabulous! But, Illuminae was eerily similar. Normally, that would be okay. I would typically be able to enjoy both without thinking too much of it, but the writing style of Illuminae just killed it for me. Sure, it’s a fast read despite being 600 pages long, but I couldn’t connect to the characters on an emotional level. I also didn’t find the plot as engaging, even when there were major twists and turns happening.

I also thought some of the language use was a little weird. I don’t want to spoil anything, but a certain “character” got a little lyrical and melodramatic, which I find strange due to the “character’s” background.

HOWEVER, despite how much I’m downing this book, I did find myself curious as to what happens in the sequels. I might pick Gemina and Obsidio up at a later date. Now, though, I have no plans to immediately go out and buy the other books in the series. They’re just not a priority. Another plus for this book is, like I mentioned, it’s a quick read. I think if someone was in a reading slump and they liked sci-fi books, this one would be a good one to try. I think I finished Illuminae in something like four days, and I wasn’t even super invested in it.

Back to why I want to read the sequels, the reason I was curious about what’s going to happen next has to do with the ending. The last few pages were very impactful. I just wish some of that impact had been in the beginning and middle of the book as well. And maybe it is or will be for other readers. Maybe I just was comparing The Expanse and this book too much.

All in all, I think if you go into Illuminae knowing how the writing style plays out and recognizing that the hype may just be a little too up there, then you could probably enjoy this book. It’s got a good story with some elements of shock value, and its short word count makes it a quick read.

*Note: I borrowed a copy of this book from my library. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

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