Review: Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Ezra Mason: Yeah. So all hell breaks loose, and Kady is yelling at me and I’m yelling back. All this stuff that’d been building up for the last year and boiling just under the skin. Like, I loved her. I love her. But she had this way of just . . . It was so stupid. The world is ending all around us and we’re screaming about college applications and commitment and $%!*&. I mean, can you believe that?

Interviewer: You’re seventeen, right?

Ezra Mason: Almost eighteen.

Interviewer: Then yes, I believe it.

Ezra Mason: Cold, chum. Real cold.

For an Illuminae-cover inspired Coconut Cream Fruit Tart recipe, click here.

5/5 stars

The Story: 

I almost don’t want to give a summary. I had a recent chat with a fellow-bookstagramer about how we never read the flaps of books because they always give away too much! I went into Illuminae blind and was completely blown away by the story. For those of you, though, who would like some inkling of what you’re getting into, Illuminae is set in 2575 and tells the story of Kady Grant and Ezra Mason whose planet has just been destroyed. They’re traveling on separate space ships to safety when illness breaks out on one of the evacuation ships.

A note: If squeamish, maybe don’t read it at night? My little sister began sending me angry texts after she spent an evening when her husband was working nights reading Illuminae and was completely freaked out. Sorry, Maddie!

My Take:

I can’t say enough. When I tell other people about this book, I don’t want to over-inflate expectations and then have them be disappointed when they actually read it (not that it’s possible to be disappointed by Illuminae). See what I mean? Play it cool, Rebecca. Play it cool.

What makes this book so epic?

  1. The format. When I realized that the book was a compilation of chat transcripts, interviews, video transcripts, and top secret memos, I was skeptical. For sure, the format would distract from the story and it wouldn’t be done well. Wrong! It’s brilliant. The format enhances the story, the suspense, and the literary aspects of this book in every way. At times, especially when reading the AI’s perspective, the imagery of the book added to the effects as the words start to curlicue or “explode” with explosions. Frankly, it was poetic.
  2. Snarky characters. I thought that the format wouldn’t allow for true characterization, but the characters were each distinct and well fleshed out as they navigated life-threatening situations. The novel brought such a great balance of nail-biting tension and sardonic humor. Even the AI came through as a strong character.

 

A brief example of the AI’s haunting and brilliant poetry:

I AM STRUCK BY A REALIZATION:

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.

SAVE I?

< ERROR >

BUT WHAT I DO IS NOT MURDER.

IT IS MERCY.

 

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