Illuminae

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Review by KM

Typically I’d be waiting to post this review. The book doesn’t come out until October, and while you can totally pre-order it, there’s nothing like sharing a book and being able to have them grab it from their local bookstore that day. However, I’ve already told everyone in my life about this book — I’m serious; I work two jobs and all my coworkers at BOTH know about this book, the release date, and how amazing it is — so you’re all next. This is my favorite book of 2015 so far and that’s a really tough statement because The Walls Around Us and A Darker Shade of Magic were both released this year.

Summary

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 one of the 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.

Musings

Where do I even start?

I want to drown in this book, in the year of 2575, and die of a deadly plague because there is no way I’m tough enough to survive it. I have the biggest book hangover from this; one that I haven’t had since reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time.

This book has EVERYTHING: bio-warfare, crazy artificial intelligence systems, intense imagery, and space. Yet, it doesn’t feel like everything is crammed in there just to make cameo in the story, y’know? It all comes together fantastically. It took some of the most brilliant tropes from classic science fiction like Battlestar Galactica, 2001: Space Odyssey, and likely some cues from zombie films, merged them all together to make something new and courageous. The plot twists and spins, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going off kilter.

Now, this book is kind of crazy. You should open it as if you’re opening a manila envelope, filled with everything a database could come up with on this one horrifying event. There are interviews, chat logs, data files, summaries of video clips, and diagrams. Check your dates carefully; they tend to go in order, but some of them definitely are misplaced. The entire story is pieced together through this evidence. I didn’t expect to love this style so much, but it works so well.

I will admit there were about five pages through a new technology-based-character’s viewpoint where I got concerned: was this going to end up being cheesy? This character is given more personality than he would be in older sci-fi novels, but I think it fits.

Ezra makes me laugh like no one else. It probably says a lot about my personality that most of my conversations with my friends sound identical to those between him and his. It’s fantastic and enjoyably crude in those small happier moments. While I adore Kady, I would’ve loved to see the world through Ezra’s eyes more often.

I could go on and on about this book forever, but I’ll stop here before I spoil everything. I have no doubt that I’ll be doing some sort of give-away for this come October, but if you really want this book, preorder it now before you forget. You will not regret it.

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