Illuminae

By: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Kerenza IV is an ice planet removed from the governing eyes of the United Terran Authority. With the advantage of a remote location, the settlement hosts an illegal mining operation that the corporation BeiTech has decided to take for itself.

Kady and Ezra are a recently separated couple who now find themselves aboard the small fleet comprised of the Alexander, Hypatia, and Copernicus after evacuation from the destroyed settlement. However, their situation is far from safe as they discover the Alexander has a defective jump drive and the nearest gate to safety is a 6-month haul away. The BeiTech battle carrier Lincoln also survived the attack on Kerenza IV and is now in hot pursuit wanting to destroy all witnesses to their crime.

The situation soon goes from bad to worse as a mysterious virus infects the Copernicus population and AIDAN, Alexander’s AI, goes insane and must be shut down. Worst of all, the nature of the fleet’s situation is being covered up by fleet command.

Beset on all sides by forces working against a safe retreat from the Lincoln, Kady must use her computer hacking skills to try and find a way to keep the civilian population safe, but she will need help from Ezra to do it.


Look, I concede, okay? You got me. Behold a YA novel that Alex Frank doesn’t think is complete shit. On the contrary, this novel was pretty freakin’ great. *sniffle* I’m so proud.

Way to be competent Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff!

This book was one of the most unique reading experiences I’ve ever had. The entire story was told through a dossier format with all dialogue coming from emails, transcripts, and IM messages. Large chunks of the story are learned through action reports and the crumbling sanity of AIDAN. It was bold and daring for the genre, but not only that it was a story that asked some hard questions. Illuminae challenges where to draw the line of right and wrong by forcing the reader into the uncomfortable zone of grey. This book will make you think.

AIDAN is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read in a sci-fi book, especially given it is an AI. I got tired of the dialogue when it got too repetitive, but otherwise, I liked AIDAN a lot. I wanted to understand the logic behind the computer program.

Yes, the dialogue back and forth between Kady and Ezra was cringeworthy at times. They are angsty…you know…because this is a YA book, but I would say that it doesn’t detract from the main positive qualities of the story. It is a noticeable flaw though. At least there were moments in their banter that genuinely made me laugh.

The style of the book with the dossier format also makes you read more actively than you may on your own. I got tired of reading the book because I was trying to pay attention to all the tiny details, but it wasn’t boring. There was a lot of work that went into the style of this book, and I appreciate that.

If you have the same reaction to this book as I did, the story and style will cause you to feel genuine anxiety for the characters. There are twists that will make you stop and go, “holy f***, what?” and that’s awesome.

Who knew the phrase, “Don’t look at me” could become the stuff of nightmares?


Overall rating: 4.5

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