Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This book is a danger–to my sanity, sleep, work. I couldn’t put it down! It’s powerful and raw; it doesn’t shy away from illuminating the gritty, poignant, bittersweet truth of combat situations.

Kady Grant was in class when she realized her planet’s under attack from enemy ships. Kerenza’s citizens do illegal mining of hermium under the directives of a corporation WUC, and its competitor BeiTech discovered this and means to take it for themselves. So it was a hostile takeover and lots of lives were lost. In a call for help, the battleship Alexander was patrolling nearby and responded to their call. They had to travel for about six months in space, with BeiTech’s surviving battleship the Lincoln in pursuit, before they can reach the Heimdall station, where hopefully there’ll be someone to assist them.

However, soon they realized something was wrong. The artificial intelligence running the ship, AIDAN, was taking over the ship, and a deadly pathogen is loose. How many would succumb to the virus? How many would be killed by AIDAN? And how many would survive and live to tell the truth?

First of all, I’ve gotta applaud the ingenious way of telling the story. This is something you’ve never read before, a story told via transcripts of conversations, military documents, IMs, emails, journal entries, etc. I can’t imagine what the authors had to do to come up with this collage of information, but it works! I was enthralled and compelled to keep hitting the button on my epub reader. Still I couldn’t help thinking that this is one format that’s best read on a paper book.

If you’ve ever watched the anime tv series Robotech, you’ll be able to imagine the atmosphere and environs of this book. Well, initially anyway. That’s the feeling I got when I started reading, when Ezra and Kady were on the ship fleeing their damaged planet and BeiTech’s ships. I imagine them living in the city within the ship, the micro-environment that sprung up due to necessity, etc. Of course, there was no singing here or attack from aliens. Instead, the danger is all too near, because AIDAN is severely damaged and there’s a deadly virus loosed on Copernicus (one of the ships).

There are 3 ships in all–Alexander (the main battleship that has the guns and defense grids), Hypatia (the research vessel) and Copernicus. Kady, our heroine, is on Hypatia, and Ezra, her recent ex, is on Alexander. Kady is a computer programming prodigy, and she’s bold and brave and she has this fight-to-the-end attitude that’s very admirable. She didn’t want to give up as long as there’s a sliver of a chance. Ezra is great too, but it is Kady who carries the show.

The story is straightforward at first, as it documents the happenings on Kerenza and the people’s subsequent adaptation to life on the ship to when things start to go wrong. Then, halfway through, there’s surprising twists and turns, causing the story to go in a different direction, and shocking revelations that fried my brains and made this a totally amazing read. Perhaps I should’ve seen those revelations coming, but I love it when an author (or authors) manage to surprise me!

Lastly, this is a story of sacrifice and courage and the indomitable human spirit. I can’t tell you how many times I was moved by a certain scene or how certain words struck me. Like, “It is moments like this that kill me.” All too often, wars and battles seem so far away from us, but in reading this, I have no doubt similar situations occur in war zones, situations where a man’s actions spoke of the very person that he is, situations where in the darkest night, the human spirit, courage and selflessness shine bright.

Rating: 5 stars

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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.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. Pingback: Illuminae to be made into a Movie!! Squee! | Romancing the Books and More

  2. Pingback: My Top Ten of 2015 | Romancing the Books and More

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