Thursday, November 19, 2015

Illuminae

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

Illuminae is a science fiction tale set in the far future where man has colonized the stars and interstellar travel is commonplace. It's also a YA novel written in an unconventional format- the story is told entirely from reconstructed emails, IM's, and files put together by the Illuminae group, an organization that is tasked with reporting incident that happened a year ago. Kady Grant and Ezra Mason are two teenagers on an illegal mining colony that comes under attack from a rival megacorporation. Survivors of the attack are taken onto a military battlecruiser, the Alexander, and a science vessel the Hypatia. Along with a third ship, the group flees to reach a jump gate so they can return to inhabited space. Pursuing them is the megacorp that damaged the Alexander.

Things go from bad to worse when the enemy ship closes on them at the same time as a mysterious virus runs rampant, causing people to go nuts. Compounding the problem is the AI (artificial intelligence) on the Alexander, known as AIDAN. Damaged in the assault, the AI begins to behave erratically, putting everyone at risk. Against this backdrop, Kady and Ezra (who are on different ships) try to stay alive and rekindle their relationship.

This is one of the more interesting science fiction books I've read. Much has been made of the unconventional format of the book, and it's interesting to say the least. Schematics of the ships along with emails and documents present a dossier- like narrative that is truly original. Some have said this detracts a bit from getting to really know the two leads, and I agree with that to an extent, but by and large the writing is good enough that we still can engage with these characters. In fact, it becomes quote compelling at times, and I really felt for these characters at times of moral complexity.

The story is harrowing at times but also funny. Kady is a hacker and some of the stuff she does, especially early on, made me laugh. The action begins right from the first page as we learn about the initial attack, and things really get intense just before the halfway point. Not that it's boring before that- far from it. It's just that the intensity level shifts into overdrive in the second act.

9 comments:

  1. Fantastic review^^ I've read nothing but praise about this one so clearly, I'm kicking myself for not digging into it much sooner! The buzz for it at BEA in May was nuts. I remember thinking: there is NO way that that book will live up to it's own hype. Boy was I wrong haha! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here! :)

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  2. I have had the hardcover for three weeks now, and I haven't had time to read it yet. It is on my home office desk mocking me. Thanks for the review!

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  3. Great review Greg, I just loved this book so much and the second book is going to have to be an absolute belter to better this one!

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  4. The format sounds fascinating, I can see how it would distance the reader from the leads but the story sounds worth it.

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  5. Really good review Greg, the format sounds interesting. The premise is similar to the collaboration in her Starbound trilogy which I really liked. Can't wait to read this one.

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  6. I wanted to read this because I liked Amie Kaufman's other scifi books for teens (Starbound series) but the format also intrigued me. Sounds like it has plenty to offer readers. The book is rather big so hopefully teens will not hesitate to pick it up over the size since it sounds like the method of storytelling would keep the pace going. Nice review!

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  7. Hmm was really interested to see your review, because I wanted to know more about this book and you have explained it really well. Interesting format, I don't think it would put me off.

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  8. Ok... I just put this on hold at the library! I can't wait to read it.

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