Book Review Time: Illuminae | Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Book Details

Series: Illuminae Files (Book 1)

Hardcover: 600 pages

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: October 20th, 2015

Book Synopsis

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.

“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

Wow. Just…wow. Now THIS is how you do a YA sci-fi. I’m not even sure where to begin with this amazing book.

I will admit that, at first, I was a bit wary about the formatting. A book composed entirely of IMs, hacked documents, emails, medical reports, military files, interviews, and schematics? An intriguing concept, but daunting. I wasn’t sure a story could effectively be carried through in such a way.

Boy, was I wrong.

Within these carefully laid out documentations and images, I received a compelling story that broke my heart more than once and revived it completely by the end. This book is a cleverly crafted work of art that pulls at the heartstrings and keeps you spellbound throughout.

The MCs, Kady and Ezra, are two of the most hilarious and enjoyable characters I’ve read in a YA. Kady is an intelligent, young heroine who is tech-savvy and more than capable of taking care of herself. And Ezra is a confident, yet charming, young hero whose humor and charisma are so off the charts, it’s ridiculous. Ezra’s conversations with Kady via emails and IMs are purely comedic, romantic, thrilling, and basically all things good. I didn’t think it was possible to create a believable chemistry between two characters who don’t speak face-to-face to one another the entire time, but Kaufman and Kristoff managed to execute one hell of an online relationship. The romance between these two characters was so well-developed that I found myself practically swooning over it. As the story progressed, I was constantly praying all went well for these kids, even as their world came crashing down around them.

Which brings us to the plot and writing. The political and scientific jargon had my eyes glossing over here and there (I am a creative writing major; numbers and anything remotely scientific rarely compute) but after a few entries, I began to understand the situation a bit better. It was confusing at first, but if read carefully, the plot comes together quite well. There were a few dangers within the story: a rogue warship under the command of one mega-corporation that is intent upon destroying the evacuating fleet Kady and Ezra currently reside on, a defective AI that commands the main warship of the evacuating fleet, a deadly virus that threatens the residents upon the fleet, and a system of command that tries too hard to cover everything up.

It’s a lot to swallow, but not too difficult to keep up with. All these dangers are heaped upon one another, but luckily they are interconnected. Not one danger stands apart from the other, and so these minor subplots and conflicts don’t tear the story apart as a whole.

The writing helped me to understand what was going on and it gave me something to smile about. There was a perfect amount of humor involved. Actually, I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a book. I’ve giggled, sure, but outright laughed? Nope. Not until this book.


The text flowed and transformed constantly as the diction demanded to be alternated for each type of character: from a know-it-all hacker, to an unruly teen, to a man or woman of military status, to an unfeeling yet thoughtful AI. It was so well done that I actually sympathized with a machine! The language was harsh and straightforward in some places and lyrically beautiful in others. Kaufman and Kristoff’s writing merged so well you couldn’t tell one from the other. And the best part about about the story, besides the action and romance, are the little easter eggs the authors leave behind. If one reads all the documents carefully, one might just catch the names of well-known authors sprinkled throughout. I managed to catch Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor, and the two authors themselves. So, be on the lookout!

Granted, some of the images were a bit difficult to read, but the entire book is an interactive experience that has left me wanting more. It was suspenseful, the pacing was phenomenal, the action was plenty, and the romance was to die for. I couldn’t have asked for a better sci-fi. Because of these amazingly executed story elements, Illuminae has easily become one of my favorite YAs. I can’t wait to see the wonders Gemina, the second book, holds.

4 thoughts on “Book Review Time: Illuminae | Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. I walked by this in the library yesterday, and never has a review made me regret that decision more! I’ve been super hesitant to pick this one up because the formatting looked incredibly confusing and irritating, like something that was supposed to be ~cool~ but disrupted the reading, and I’m glad to hear that wasn’t the case for you (when read carefully, of course). I’ll make a point to check this out soon! Awesome review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Thanks so much ❤ I'm so happy to have changed your mind. I highly encourage you to pick this one up. It really took me by surprise. I hope that if you DO choose to read it, you end up liking it (or loving it) as much as I did 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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